Creating Stitch Patterns From Scratch – and Written Instructions

Creating Stitch Patterns

Everyone is unique, and so are you.

We seriously believe everyone is capable of creating stitch patterns and in this article we show you how. Let’s get started with stitch patterns for lace knitting!

The Complete Guide to Lace Knitting: Table of Contents

The Main Element of Lace Knitting: Eyelets

The main element of eyelets is the yarn over (YO) stitch. Regular locations of eyelets on the knitted canvas creates a lace pattern.

Eyelets differ in size and location of the composition’s elements: They may consist of one large or more small motives, differ in texture, can feature horizontal, vertical or diagonal direction, be a flower or other geometric ornaments. They can be worked by using single, or more yarn overs at once.

Until used as structural elements – as increases, for instance – but for creating a lace pattern, eyelets are always paired with corresponding decreases.

Creating Stitch Patterns From Scratch

Creating stitch patterns from scratch can be broken down into three major steps:

  • Select your drawing canvas,
  • Put eyelets on it, and
  • Pair all eyelets with decreases.

Let me provide you with an example to illustrate the concept.

First, we select our drawing canvas and our chart size (the number of rows and columns). Let’s use stockinette stitch as basic stitch pattern (canvas) and a chart size of 10 x 10 stitches. The resulting chart looks like the one shown below. Please note: as all wrong side rows are purl rows, only odd numbered (right side) rows are charted!

Creating Stitch Patterns From Scratch

Next, we insert eyelets (yarn overs, the round symbol) wherever we please.

Creating Stitch Patterns From Scratch

Next, start pairing the two eyelets with one knit stitch in between with a corresponding decrease. For this purpose you can either use a central double decrease (cdd, the three-legged triangle symbol in the chart below) in the middle between the two yarn overs to pair, or use a k2tog on the right side and a ssk on the left side. Only the first variant is shown below.


Creating Stitch Patterns From Scratch

Next, start pairing the outer eyelets with decreases using a k2tog (/) stitch right next to the eyelet.

Creating Stitch Patterns From Scratch

Usually, to open the eyelets properly, k2tog stitches are put right next to the yarn over, ssk (\, left leaning decrease) stitches are put on the left side of it. Use either the combination “k2tog, YO” or “YO, ssk”.

The next – final – step is to pair all eyelets left unpaired so far with ssk stitches as shown below.

Creating Stitch Patterns From Scratch

That’s it! Always make sure to pair all eyelets accordingly, otherwise your stitch count will change without intention.

How to Create Charts From Written Directions

Assume we want to transfer the following written pattern into a chart. The steps needed are the following:

  • Determine the size of the chart, and
  • Translating the written instructions into chart symbols.

The size of the chart can be determined by looking

  • Determining the number of rows from the written instructions (in our example below we have 20 rows – don’t forget to count the last wrong side row, too!), and
  • Counting the stitches in the first row to determine your number of columns. For stitch patterns not constant in stitch count, count the number of stitches in every row and take the largest number as columns needed.

The translation works by filling in the stitch symbols for the written instructions in the direction of your knitting: start with the lower most row (R1 below) and work your way upwards. Charts are always read from right to left on right side rows and from left to right on wrong side rows.

Our example has knitting symbols for right side rows only, as all wrong side rows are purl rows.

Try out to create a chart from the written instructions below by following the instructions given above. The result should be the chart we just created!

Written Instructions:

In the instructions below, all even numbered rows (wrong side rows) are worked in stockinette stitch.

R1 (RS): k4, yo, dbl dec, yo, k3
R3: k2, k2tog, yo, k3, yo, ssk, k1
R5: k1, k2tog, yo, k5, yo, ssk
R7: k3, yo, ssk, k1, k2tog, yo, k2
R9: k4, yo, dbl dec, yo, k3
R11: k2, k2tog, yo, k3, yo, ssk, k1
R13: k1, k2tog, yo, k5, yo, ssk
R15: k3, yo, ssk, k1, k2tog, yo, k2
R17: k4, yo, dbl dec, yo, k3
R19: k10


That’s it for today. Let me know if this article was helpful for you to create stitch patterns by leaving a comment below!

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  1. Faye says:

    I’m loving this series of learning lace knitting just as I have all the other series you have done. Thanks ever so much for sharing with us. Commendable job you’re doing here. I haven’t bothered to thank you for each episode, due to the fact I don’t want to waste your time reading them.

    • Jriede Knitwear Design says:

      Faye, I’m very happy you enjoy the series and even more that you take the time to let me know. Thank you!

  2. Anne says:

    I am a seasoned knitter — including lace — but never really thought of designing a pattern on my own. it sort of opens a whole new world! Thanks. I still can’t believe you do this for free! PS: I’m a former semiconductor diffusion/LPCVD engineer and also spent time as a manufacturing engineer in a solar panel plant. I find your background interesting.

    • Jriede Knitwear Design says:

      Anne, I’m happy you like my content. I believe in sharing information as widely as possible – and most of it for free as always. :)

      My background is something that separates me from most designers I think, I not only love knitting but the maths behind it even more!

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