Stitch Dictionaries and a CONTEST!

DSC00341Do you have any stitch dictionaries in your knitting library? I am somewhat of a stitch dictionary junky. I think I have most of them. I always have grand illusions of designing, and then I get bogged down with too many wonderful choices to play with. That didn’t stop me from being really excited when designer Debbie O’Neill told me that she was working on a new book – a stitch dictionary. I have always loved Debbie’s designs and knew the book would be great. (One of my very favorite Debbie designs is Celebratory Chevrons – free here on my blog. It’s one of the few sock patterns that I’ve chosen to knit more than once.) Last week, her publisher kindly sent me a copy of the new book – The Stitch Collection – and I dove in. Actually, it’s a slipcase with 5 smaller volumes tucked inside – Knit & Purl, Rib, Lace, Cables, and Specialty. 225 patterns in all. There are several things that make this one of my new favorites, and one that I will use frequently.

DSC00343– I love the smaller sized books. Most stitch dictionaries are filled with every possible combination and they are big and heavy. Not something I would tuck into my project bag or take along on a trip. And a bit overwhelming to leaf through.

– I love that each page gives you a skill level and a drape level. Sometimes you don’t know how it will work from the photo, and I haven’t seen these ratings in other stitch dictionaries.

– Also different (and a real benefit), I like that each stitch is explained, along with particular characteristics: “It pulls in dramatically, but is very elastic. It will lie flat along the cast-on edge, but will tend to curl along the side edges.”

DSC00342– I also appreciate the suggestions for use: “… can be used as an edge stitch for sweaters, hats, mittens or gloves, or as a panel or an overall pattern in an elaborate sweater.”

– And a few warnings on some, like: “This stitch pattern comes off the needles looking slanted, and a good blocking evens it out nicely. However, you may want to avoid using it across large areas because the larger the area, the harder it is to block out the slant.”

My only wish? I wish these were spiral bound. I think I will pop by Office Max and have mine done. (Do you do that with your favorite knitting books? I think it’s so handy to be able to open books all the way and have them lie flat when in use.) Also, there are no charts. But as someone who seldom knits from charts, that wasn’t a big deal for me. When I want to take written directions and turn them into charts, I’ve been using this program. Very easy to use, with great tutorials.

So all of this (stitch dictionaries, designing software) leads to the contest question of the month – have you ever tried to design something of your own to knit or crochet? Does the thought of it sound interesting, intimidating, or invigorating?  Leave your answer in the comments and we’ll use the random generator to draw winners for $30 Gift Certificates to The Loopy Ewe next week!

Sheri whothinkssomeofyouaredesignersandyoudon’tevenknowityet!


  1. I designed a shawl called The Hayworth Shawlette. I’d been poking around in a stitch dictionary for something, couldn’t find what I wanted, so I just made something up. Stitch dictionaries are good inspiration though.

  2. I’ve been working on a lace shawl on and off for the last couple of years. I tweak designs regularly, and have been known to plug lace patterns into existing shawl outlines for something different. Actually, this reminds me, I need to finish recharting an edging to make it symmetrical!

  3. I am using my stitch books (I have all 4 Barbara walker books, a couple of stitch calendars, and a couple other books I can’t remember right now) to design some socks for my 3.5 YO daughter…small socks so the stitches can’t be overwhelming or the socks look cluttered…that’s the problem I’ve run into so far! But it’s on my list of things to accomplish this year so I need to make it happen!!

  4. I just crocheted a “mock chain maille” vest for my son for his Wizards and Warriors day camp. I made it up as I went along and it came out very well.

    I have many ideas for knitted garments percolating in my mind. We’ll have to see how long it takes them to come to fruition.

  5. I use stitches from dictionaries or other patterns to design things all the time. Even when I use a pattern, the urge to tweak is so bad that I never follow it totally. Designing my own stuff is what knitting is all about for me.

  6. My mom had several of her books spiral bound at staples last year, I remember her mentioning something about a sale (she had a lot of books done!) I’ve used stitch dictionaries to design a few socks. I do love to look through them and think of the possibilities and let my imagination run wild.

  7. I love to make up new designs using strange patterns I find. Or maybe it’s just that I don’t like following patterns?

  8. I don’t design — I’m a blind follower. I use kniting as a form of relaxation, and the math involved in designing is NOT relaxing for me. But, as a result, I greatly appreciate the hard work of good designers.

  9. I’ve got 2 (free) patterns up on Ravelry–Drop stitch Cowl and Floppy Brimmed Sunhat. I’m planning on working up a couple more patterns, too–maybe this winter.

  10. I tend to collect stitch dictionaries and use them all the time. I will find a stitch that i really like and then create something to use that stitch. Somtimes I use it for the top of a sock, or a lace pattern for a sweater.

    When designing something new, I tend to have about 10 different dictionaries out open to various pages comparing the patterns side by side, counting stitch repeats trying to figure out which will look best for the yarn I have in hand.

  11. that stitch dictionary looks fabulously useful and portable! I tend to design most of the sweaters and socks I knit for myself now because they fit so much better that way, but I’m also getting used to modifying others’ patterns too…

  12. For me…just even the thought of designing is very intimidating. No designer genes in this body. Oh well! There are so many wonderful, talented desginers out there, it might just be a good thing that I’m not a designer. I already have enough trouble now not picking pattern after pattern because there are sooooo many lovely patterns already out there to be had.

  13. I would love to someday design my own shawl pattern. There are some beautiful patterns out there, so for now I will use them. But wishful thinking, I just may jump in and try and design a shawl one day. I love the Stitch Dictionaries and as you stated would love to see them spiral bound also.

  14. Sadly, I never have even tried to design something. It seems VERY intimidating and such an opportunity for failure 🙂 I will leave the designing to the pros … they do such a great job and make it look so darn easy!

  15. Sheri, can’t saw I’ve ever wanted to design an entire item – I’m much more likely to change a pattern (all patterns :>) that I’m working on. While I love the use other people’s work to at least get me started, I rarely knit the entire pattern as written. Frequently I change knitting in pieces to knitting in the round.

  16. I’m a bit more confident about adding little design elements to existing patterns, but not the level of starting something from scratch! I added a lace panel from a stitch dictionary to my Featherweight cardi and was pleased with the result, and I can tweak sweater patterns to better fit my shape these days. Great strides from where my knitting skills were a few years ago.

  17. I would love to design my own pattern but I do find it intimidating and not something that I think that I can do at this point. However, at some time I will give it a try 🙂

  18. I am late to the party as usual. I have used Barbara Walker’s first book to help me with a scarf design. Nothing major, but it is nice to have a bunch of stitches to look at. I have a Japanese stitch book, I want another one. They are hard to find and expensive.


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