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 like to design when I have some yarn that I absolutely have to use for a project but have no pattern for – my first creations were not so good – but I have definitely gotten better :O)

  2. I have this book and I really like it. So far, I’ve only made swatches…but I definitely have fantasies about designing scarves! (:

  3. I’ve designed a few things- a poncho, legwarmers and other small things- but I would like to try and design a sweater someday.

  4. I’ve designed a blanket, but it was really, really simple. I’m still rather new to knitting, so I feel I don’t have enough knowledge yet to design something that isn’t square or rectangular. Once I have more experience with garment construction, it’s definitely something I’d love to try.

  5. I’ve considered designing a blanket or a scarf, but I’ve never done it – I guess I’m just a bit intimidated. Maybe someday!

  6. I have not attempted to design a pattern yet, but I know that someday I will (because I want to 🙂 I wasn’t aware that there was software out there that can convert written patterns to charts–I like charts. I think they are easier to follow along. And I 100% agree with you on spiral bound books. All pattern instruction books should be spirals.

  7. I designed a potato chip scarf, on Ravelry under farmmom, using short rows. I also designed a faux-cable water bottle sock. But I haven’t got that one typed up and put on ravelry or my blog yet. I also made myself a sweater without a pattern, with slide pockets, but haven’t decided whether to try to type up a pattern. Its based on EPS. It was a lot of fun to knit. Writing up–not so much.

  8. I designed my own socks for the Sock Knitters Anonymous “June Sockdown” challenge where we could choose to knit a pattern designed by the very talented Stephanie Van Der Linden, a vintage pattern OR make one up.

    I designed “Gothic Arches” based on a stitch found in the second Barbara Walker Treasury and I used String Theory Caper Sock.

    So will you be carrying Debbie O’Neill’s new book at TLE?

  9. I modify almost everything I knit in one way or another. Sometimes it becomes a whole new design. Sometimes I just cast on and go, and it’s one of a kind. I love having this kind of flexibility!

  10. I “designed” an intarsia flower hat a couple years ago, and it turned out pretty nicely, but since I’m pretty sure I just faked my way through intarsia (since I didn’t even know that’s what it was called), I decided it wasn’t worth writing up 🙂 I dream about designing for real in the future… maybe a stitch dictionary is the place to start!

  11. Interesting and intimidating! I have dipped my toe into designing by making some rather drastic adjustments to already written patterns. I do feel like one day i will be ready and will design something for real.

  12. OMG I’m so excited to learn about stitch dictionaries!! What a useful tool : ) I can’t wait to get my very own. Thank you so much for introducing us to this particular set. It does sound delightfully easy to follow.
    I often like to think that I could create my own designs but then I forget what I did by the end of a few rows. Sooo if taking chicken scratchy notes on little sticky notes counts as ‘creating a pattern’ then so be it!

  13. When I took CookieA’s class at your first spring fling, I became acquainted with stitch dictionaries.

    Now that I have a bit more knitting time on my hands, it would be fun to explore more designs!

  14. I have used the lace and edging designs in Barbara Walker’s Treasuries to design and knit scarves, but nothing more than that. These look like great additions to my stitch dictionary collection. Thanks for the contest.

  15. I’d like to try designing. At this point I just modify. Sometimes on purpose and sometimes not:-)

    I don’t own a stitch dictionary, but that one looks intriguing.

  16. Sure, I’ve designed sweaters and socks, but just for myself. I haven’t published any of the designs or anything. But it’s especially nice to be able to take handspun, picture how it should be knit in your head and then come up with a plan to make it knit like that. It’s very satisfying!

  17. I’ve designed several pairs of socks…my friends keep asking me to write up the patterns. Maybe some day I will. I think I may have to buy these books!

  18. I am fascinated by the idea of learning to design, but still too scared to try it! I do “custom-fit” my own socks since I have long, narrow feet…

  19. I actually don’t own any stitch dictionaries yet, and I’ve not designed anything from scratch either. (I don’t really thing plain hats count.) I’ve become pretty good at improvising as I go along though.

  20. There is so much out there already that I’ll leave designing to the gifted and just buy and knit/crochet their marvelous patterns. I do love stitch guides though and use them to practice with.

  21. When I was in my teens, I designed some hair bands that were similar to what Madonna used to wear in the 80’s. I know that it’s dating myself, but oh well! I even sold a few to friends and to my mom’s coworkers for their children. I could make them cheaper than the stores sold them, and I could make a variety of colors. I even made a permanent bow for on them, ala Madonna!

  22. The first thing I designed was an aran sweater for my ex. I remember that even though all the purl stitches were twisted, people stopped him on the street and asked where he got the beautiful sweater. It was knit from Bernat Berella – we didn’t have much money then. I still have the pattern. I also designed several Fair Isle patterns, including one baby pullover which I knit (except for one sleeve…).

  23. I would love to design a sock, but I am afraid of all the knitting and tinking back that would be involved. Maybe someday I will have the time and the patients to design a sock pattern.

  24. My own design? No way. I am very new sock knitter, and I’ve been learning from Wendy and CookieA. So I can read charts. That having been said, the stitch guides are fascinating, and I can dream, can’t I?

  25. It’s been awhile, but I designed a baby to sweater with a colorwork train worked in the front. I think I must have given it away….

  26. The closest I get is using Sock Wizard incorporating a pattern from a stitch book, but I am a seriously committed other people’s patterns person. I can’t even imagine creating my own and have the highest respect for people who can.

  27. I designed my own pattern for fingerless gloves. They’re called the Climbing Vine Mitts and the pattern is available on Ravelry. I chose to design my own pattern because I couldn’t find any patterns that matched what I was looking for, but it was definitely a challenge for me!

  28. I’ve definitely done my own designs. When I started crocheting I didn’t know about patterns so I did everything myself, including an entire tea and picnic set.

  29. I’ve done some basic designs on my own–i.e. use a stitch dictionary to decide what I like and use the pattern for a scarf, or something like that. I am more likely to take someone else’s design as a jumping-off point for something that I am going to make on my own.

  30. I collect books with different stitches in the hope I will create a beautiful wrap, but there are so many beautiful patterns out there, much easier to have written pattern in front of me!

  31. I have done a bunch of sock patterns but i always forget to write them down and then it is too much trouble to try and remember what i did.

    i think Debbie’s stitch dictionary will be one of my favorites can’t wait for it to be published.

    i have taken a few of my favorite knitting books and had them spiral bound. i love it.

  32. I haven’t designed anything, but I have learned some basic things like cable by incorporating them into socks. It would be nice some day to be so proficient with my knitting that I could design something. Meanwhile… steps.

  33. I think this stitch dictionary sounds great — except that I really love charts and find it harder to design from uncharted patterns.

    I almost always design my own hat patterns. It’s really helpful to use a charted stitch because I can see if there are any rows that would draw in more than the others and which rows are the best prospects for putting in the crown decreases.

  34. I have kinda sorta designed an oven mitt. Looked at other patterns, decided it was not big enough so did a few things differently, is that my design or not? In fact in the process of doing another one, so I much like my version better than any other pattern.

  35. I’ve done several sock designs, 2 or 3 shawls, 4 or 5 pullovers, a really cute cardi and a kimono. Once you figure out the stitch pattern it gets really fun.

  36. Not really. I’ll reverse engineer simple things from people’s blog pictures (like neat details onto my basic sock recipe) or alter edgings, lengths, etc. But full out designing is a bit beyond my math skills!

  37. Designing sounds very intimidating to me! There are just so many patterns out there I want to do that I have never really had the urge to create anything different. I will make small changes on my own but never anything new. 😉

  38. I love using stitch dictionaries to design socks, scarves, shawls. Plus, i just enjoy looking through them and dreaming of all the possibilities.

  39. knit on the fly and designed from a sketch, but only for my own wear. Love being able to improvise and modify … making a full on sized pattern would be hard. fun to page through stitch dictionaries and dream of edgings! and then do them. 🙂

  40. I have not tried to design anything yet, but have had a few thoughts about different patterns and how I would change them. Maybe someday.

  41. I borrowed a sweater from a co-worker that is constructed in a real interesting way. Lots of diagonal rectangles. I sort of laid it out flat and traced it. Then measured all of the lines. I am going to come up with my own version and write it down as I go along, so yes, in a sense, I am going to design a sweater! I have what I think will be the perfect yarn. Now if I could just squeze it in somewhere………..maybe between the other 2 sweaters I’m working on, not to mention the 3 hats and 7 different pairs of socks on the needles!!!!!!!

  42. Yes, socks, a shawl, and a colorwork sweater yoke. I’d like to do more—just need to set aside the time to do it! I’d rather have my hands on the needles than laying out patterns on graph paper, but its definitely rewarding to knit “my” designs.

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