Like many knitters, I’m fascinated with knitting stitch patterns. I collect stitch pattern books and have spent many happy hours poring over the pretty textures and lace. Although I have loads of flags in the books marking my favorites – I only have so much time to knit, so I get to try new ones slowly. Recently it occurred to me that I could swatch the stitch patterns I’m interested in while doing a little dishcloth design! Smallish square? Check. Easy to modify the size to the count of the stitch pattern? Check!
Even if the stitch pattern is a wash , the dishcloth will be useful and I can never have too many. Plus, since I can buy dishcloth cotton in an economical cone size, I get yards of knitting enjoyment for a few bucks!
I’m going to talk about swatching now, but before we get too hung up on gauge and proper swatching technique, let’s be realistic: it’s a dishcloth. Although we do want to be able to predict somewhere close to a finished size – if it comes out a bit larger or smaller, we aren’t likely to sweat it. So, in my opinion, we can simply skip the whole swatching for a swatch step and look at the information given on the yarn sleeve to get the recommended needle size and the number of stitches and rows you’re likely to get in a 4 inch square. Using that information found on a popular worsted weight cotton, (Lily’s Sugar n Cream), I came up with the following chart:
Using size US 7 needles:
Step 1: Start browsing your stitch patterns. If you aren’t blessed with stitch pattern books, you can find plenty of them here and here. Each stitch pattern will indicate the multiples of stitches they use. Divide the number in the middle column above by the multiple of your stitch pattern, to get an idea of how many times you’ll repeat the stitch pattern to get the size you want. If your stitch pattern doesn’t divide evenly into the number of stitches in your desired size, just round your cast on stitches up or down for an even result. Then add any extra stitches the stitch pattern indicated. You’ll also need to add 3 knit stitches on each side so the cloth will lay flat and won’t curl.
Example: Here’s a simple slip stitch pattern from the Vogue Stitchionary
multiple of 4 stitches plus 3
If we want to make a 6″ cloth using this pattern, we’d cast on 24 stitches, (taking 25 from the chart above and rounding down so 4 divides into it evenly) PLUS 3 extra stitches indicated in the stitch pattern, (it’s a multiple of 4 plus 3), PLUS 6 stitches for edging for a TOTAL of 33 stitches. Make sense? Good!
Step 2: Cast on the resulting number of stitches and knit 3 rows to begin. Remember you need 3 knit stitches on each edge to keep the cloth from curling, that includes both the top and bottom edge!
Step 3: Get a notebook and write down your pattern as you knit it. Remember to include the size needles you’re using and the yarn you’re knitting with. You are writing a new pattern and may want to reproduce it later. Stop when your cloth is about 1/4″ less than the desired length and knit another 3 rows, then bind off.
You did it! Crack open your stitch pattern books and do again. Think up a snappy name for your new creation, then feel free to share a link to it in the comments. This designing stuff is seriously addictive.