Stitch charts as a design element
Stitch Charts are a great way to visually understand and absorb the movement of complex cables or lace panels. If your design requires centered or mirrored stitch repeats, you can accomplish this easily using the KnitWiz platform.
Both large and small stitch repeats may benefit from charting. For a first example, let’s look at the tried and true K2P2 rib. For most designs It is not necessary to chart this pattern. It’s easy enough to follow the pattern, at least after the first round. It’s also not really important that the two knit stitches fall at the center of the garment, especially one which continues in stockinette. If it were charted as written (K2 then P2) it would look like this:
Looking at the chart above, notice how the centerline falls between the knits and the purls, resulting in an asymmetric pattern. Now imagine a centered cable panel. It would be much more pleasing for the knit stitches of the ribbing to flow into the cabled pattern. In this case, if we chart the K2P2 pattern symmetrically, the centerline falls between stitch two and stitch three of the repeat:
KnitWiz software automatically centers the pattern across the front-center. Then, your sweater (or shawl) pattern instructions tell you which chart column to begin with in order to achieve this centering. There is no need to pre-determine manually which column to start with based on a set size.
You also have the option of ‘mirroring’ your stitch pattern around the center line. When choosing the Mirroring option for your pattern piece, the centerline falls between stitches four and one of the stitch repeat. These options are available when assigning swatches to your pattern piece sections in “edit” mode. Here are some screenshots explaining how this works:
After clicking, the modal allows you to select your option under the Pattern Section Layout heading:
A few years ago, I was working on a v-neck vest for my Dad, which had a larger pattern repeat consisting of broken rib and cables. I needed to work all the numbers out on paper. Now I can create a stitch in KnitWiz and let it center the combination. For example, this swatch represents a repeating combination of staghorn cable and broken rib stitch. The staghorn cable is centered down the front and back of the garment by default:
to visualize your pattern centered vs mirrored, take 2 pictures and merge them with photo editing… so if I want to view the above mirrored across a center-line I’d end up with something like this:
To view the same swatch “centered” I positioned three copies side by side:
When you’re happy with your swatching, create a chart to use in your design. Now that I can see how the stitches work together, I’d prefer a few more stitches of rib to break up the symmetry. Here's my finished chart, ready to use:
Note that I’ve included an extra column of purl stitches on either side of the cable (columns 10 & 27). Some references, such as Barbara Walker, almost always add 2 purl, or “relief”, stitches either side, and others add none. One relief stitch is all that’s needed with this worsted weight yarn. When working cables against a background of stockinette I would recommend adding at least one, if not two, relief stitches to help your cables stand out. Three ply yarns also help your cables pop, but I’ve also used many 2 ply yarns with great results.
When charting with KnitWiz, your stitch pattern instructions are automatically generated… feel free to edit or re-write in the language of your choice. Here, I’ve left them as generated (right side is cropped out in the image):
Now when you're knitting your project, your stitch pattern will be perfectly centered (or mirrored) front and back!
Questions about stitch charting (or anything else)? We’ll be happy to respond. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.