Knitting Stitches: How to Design your Own

Do you ever get sick of the same old stitches in your stitch dictionary?

From my time studying knitwear design at university, through to working as a swatch designer in the knitwear industry, I learnt that, in order to create something interesting and "new", it's best not to rely upon stitch dictionaries for inspiration.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with using them occasionally (who can resist some of those beautiful stitches, anyway?!) but if you want your knitting to reflect your own personal style, it's a fantastic idea to challenge yourself to create your own original knitting stitches.

It's much easier that you might think! Here's my process.

Painting by Sonia Delaunay

Designing New Knitting Stitches

Mood Board

When I'm designing a new stitch, I pull together a huge mood board on Pinterest that evokes the look I want to create. Once I have a large collection of images to review, I single out a few images that I think might inspire a stitch.

When I was brainstorming stitch patterns for my Lovelock scarf (coming soon!) I discovered this beautiful painting by Sonia Delaunay. I love her work for it's graphic style and bold use of colours. It has so much character, since the lines are always a little rough.

As soon as I saw this image, I could immediately picture how it would translate into a simple, but effective knitting stitch. I didn't want to use colour. Instead I would use texture to create a relief effect.

Chart It Out

With inspiration flowing, I set to work charting it out. Whilst I use Stitch Mastery for all of my charts, this can easily be done on graph paper or even in excel. The goal here is to map out how you think the stitch would work.

In the case of this stitch, I charted out a distorted double garter stitch stripe pattern. Whilst I designed it to repeat infintitely, I think it would be more effective as a central panel on the front of a textural striped sweater... Maybe one day!

It can take a little while to figure out the scale of the pattern and how it could repeat, which is natural when designing your own knitting stitch pattern. You should expect to make plenty of edits to the chart before it is ready to swatch.

Delaunay Knitting Stitch Chart © Sister Mountain, 2017.

Choose the Right Yarn

Once the chart is finished, I choose an appropriate yarn. In this case, I chose Debbie Bliss' Baby Cashmerino in a peachy pink colour. It was left over in my stash from my Spindle Socks, so I knew that it had great stitch definition - something that was important for the stitch pattern I had designed.

Swatch It

With yarn chosen, I knit out a reasonable size swatch, which I highly recommend. If you go too small, you won't get a full understanding of how the fabric behaves.

Fresh from the needles, the garter stripes in this stitch pattern distort the fabric making the pattern not so clear, however, after a firm steam blocking, it really came into its own.

Delaunay Knitting Stitch: Front

Delaunay Knitting Stitch: Back

As you can see, I ended up with a reversible fabric with a subtle, yet very pleasing design detail. Whilst it didn't make the cut for my Lovelock scarf, I wanted to make this stitch pattern available to you to use in your own personal projects. You can find the stitch repeat below.

Delaunay Knitting Stitch Repeat

Stitch count: Multiple of 54 stitches

Row 1 (RS): Purl.
Rows 2 - 3: Knit.
Row 4: Purl.
Row 5: P25, k4, p25.
Row 6: K24, p6, k24.
Row 7: K21, p2, k8, p2, k21.
Row 8: P20, k2, p10, k2, p20.
Row 9: P17, k2, p16, k2, p17.
Row 10: K16, p2, k18, p2, k16.
Row 11: K13, p2, k24, p2, k13.
Row 12: P12, k2, p26, k2, p12.
Row 13: P9, k2, p32, k2, p9.
Row 14: K8, p2, k34, p2, k8.
Row 15: K5, p2, k40, p2, k5.
Row 16: P4, k2, p42, k2, p4.
Row 17: K3, p48, k3.
Row 18: P2, k50, p2.
Row 19: Knit.
Row 20: Purl.

Repeat rows 1 - 20.

Now, it's your turn...

Your homework for this week is to find something, whether it's a piece of art, something from an interior magazine or a pattern you found in nature, to create your very own, original knitting stitch pattern. It sounds much harder than it is and it feels so exciting to take a stitch from inspiration to swatch!

Once you've completed your homework, make sure you share it with me on Instagram. I would absolutely love to see what you create.