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? Β 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. Yes, but so far it’s been limited to scarves (i.e., nothing complicated), and about half the time it gets frogged!

  2. Well, my first ‘real’ knitting project was a triangular scarf… a couple of rows in I got bored with the stockinette and started playing with yo and k2tog… So In a way I’ve been designing from the word go.
    I also cook that way – recipes are great for learning techniques and proportions, and then it’s time to get cracking with the creativity πŸ™‚ (And given that we have dairy sensitivity, wheat sensititvity and sugar sensitivity as well as a need to reduce artificial additives all at once, I cook and bake just about everything from scratch…)
    This has led to garlic choc cake, beef and apricot sushi and many, many types of rye bread πŸ™‚

  3. Definitely sounds like something for my wish list. I also love Stitch Dictionaries and have many, many including 4-5 Japanese ones. I have used them to design many sweaters. I love just a basic cardigan, either a V-neck or a Chanel style. I can use any yarn I have and Sweater Wizard to create the pattern after I choose a stitch to use. I also use them for different ribbings to put in the cuffs of socks.

  4. I have thought about it…and I’ve done it! But it is intimidating before you know what to do. I think it takes some time after starting knitting/crochet to really understand the construction of the fabric before you can properly design something. It’s quite easy to ‘design’ a garter stitch scarf for example and write the pattern up but when it comes to shaping, converting pattern stitches from the round to back and forth (and vice versa) adapting patterns for different sizes things like that…I think it takes a while before you can really ‘get’ knitting before you can do that. I’m not sure if I’m there yet.
    (But if you want a baby blanket, mobile phone cozy, socks, and things that aren’t sweaters…then I can do that!)

  5. I have all the Interweave Stitch Dictionaries, I think. Plus one for crochet. I’ve never used them for design, but sometimes when I want to try something new, I’ll pull one out and look for something different.

  6. No…I’ve never thought of designing something. I guess I’ll continue to be in awe of those that do and to support their work by buying their patterns! πŸ™‚

  7. Yes, I have designed a few things. But at the end of every design project, I am even more appreciative of the gifted knitwear designers who creative such beautiful designs…and make it look so easy.

  8. In my early days of knitting I designed a few things. Now there are so many beautiful patterns available, I don’t feel the need!

  9. One of the very first things I knit was from a design of my own. Or I should say almost my own. I wanted a cowl in a cool cable pattern I found on a scarf and since I didn’t know any better I just figured it out and knit it up. Then, since I was new to Ravelry at the time, I thought – “how cool, I can write up the pattern, save it as a pdf and let other people use it!” I happened to check recently and I think 40-something of them have been knit! I’ve designed/modified a few things since then – none big enough to warrant their own pdf-pattern. But I’ve caught the design bug for sure. Next up, a top-down lacy shrug…

  10. I’ve designed a crocheted scarf (easy pattern, nice results) ,a knit hat with a seed stitch ear band on it, and some hand warmers..All were pretty basic, and the hat didn’t work out, but it was fun to apply ideas I had to yarn and make a finished product.

  11. I’m going to knit ballerina socks for a five year old granddaugher, They only wear socks at home, and my husband wants me to make socks for her Wawa (dolly). That design is even more than I want.

  12. I have had stitch dictionaries in my craft room for a long time, and one day I picked up a pretty- lace pattern and put it into a sock which my daughter loved and took. I never thought anything about it, and later I saw that someone else had used that lacy pattern in a sock and WON a design contest! I guess my goal is just to create one-of-a-kind items, so I never worry about recording what I’ve done! Most of the time, my “designs” are mistakes that get duplicated so I don’t have to frog!!!

  13. I’ve created several patterns and finally got up the gumption to submit one for publication. Am now in the (very painful) waiting period…

  14. I just took a course with Cat Bordhi on designing my own patterns! She got me excited to give it a try.
    Now I am collecting stitch pattern books πŸ˜‰

  15. I have several different patterns/ideas I can see in my head, but I haven’t actually tried to knit any of them yet. I have, however, come up with a pattern (I suppose it might be more of a recipe) for one of the hats Hermione wears in Order of the Phoenix. It was the only hat in the movie I actually couldn’t find a pattern for, and of course the only hat I really had to have.

  16. I think about designing something, but there really are so many awesome patterns out there to try first! Every time I check my Ravelry queue, I see a pattern that I’ve forgotten about!

    Too many projects, too little time!

  17. I think designing is both intriguing and intimidating… I get ideas of designing my own socks, but I am much more comfortable following patterns. If I were to design, it would probably be fitting in fair isle patterns onto a sock pattern I’ve knit before.

  18. Design as in “write it down so someone else could follow the instructions” — only once. Design as in “make my own without a pattern”, many times. Even my basic sock (well, my three basic socks; I do different heels depending on the yarn) isn’t following one person’s design, but a combination of bits from several people’s techniques.

  19. I’ve designed a few things but they’ve mostly been crochet and they’ve been mostly clothing from amigurumi dolls. I have great plans of designing knit stuff, but I can’t keep track of the stuff I’m currently knitting from patterns to find the time. Ha!

  20. I have designed a couple of scarfs by swapping in and out combinations of different yarns and stiches while keeping the edges somewhat straight. I also have used color as a design tool. I did two sweaters using EZ’s Knitting Without Tears, but I don’t know if that is exactly what anyone would call designing because I was following a ratio of stitches and came up with my own color schemes following her directions. I look forward to doing more adhoc designs but expect no monetary gain!!! LOL!!!

  21. Never designed anything myself, I don’t think, although I have heavily modified patterns to suit the needs of what I want to make.

  22. Years ago I designed and knit a saddle shouldered sweater for my husband (then boyfriend – yes, I took the risk)! He’s tall, broad shouldered, and bulky, and I couldn’t find a satisfactory pattern, so I worked it out. I bought good wool and set to work. I loved it, as did he, and he still has it!!!
    Another time I saw a sweater in a catalog I liked, but it was outside my price range, so I worked out the pattern. Loved that one too.
    That’s it though…

  23. With all of the beautiful designs already out there by more creative minds than mine, I haven’t felt the need.

  24. I have one design out there already, but need to get lots more ready. Designing is the easier part – getting me to write down what I did and have someone test knit it seems to be my downfall.

  25. I actually tried to design more when I first started knitting. Now that I’ve had a few years to find all of the great designs available online, I find that there are so many wonderful already-written patterns in my queue that I don’t think about it as much. If only I had unlimited knitting time… πŸ™‚

  26. i have 2 designs on ravelry. the lastest is the fenced in hat – a hat in bulky yarn with cables that look like a chain link fence. the pattern is free:

    i love stitch dictionaries! i found an old stitch dictionary when we were clearing out my grandmother’s knitting and sewing stash, mon tricot from 1979. it’s full of inspiration. πŸ™‚

  27. I’ve never owned a stitch dictionary and never seen a reason to before, although you make some compelling points in the blog post for having one. I also think the idea of designing my own sock is intimidating, I sometimes feel like all the designs have been exhausted; but then I see great new sock patterns come out, so there must still be lots of fresh ideas out there!

  28. Only if you’re counting designing as using a stitch dictionary to create an afghan square and then make an afghan out of the squares.
    Maybe someday I’ll do a sock, but I so love vanilla socks, I don’t know why I’d bother.

  29. I have used stitch dictionaries to make up socks, but that doesn’t seem like designing to me.

    I was able to take a class with Cookie A. last spring though, and she showed us how to take something from a stitch dictionary and manipulate it to make it unique. I am still playing around with the pattern I started in that class. It is a lot of fun.

  30. I just completed my first garment, and at over six feet, had to modify for fit and add length. I know I’ll be doing this more, so the natural next step seems to be try designing. It’s just yarn, after all, so why not go for it?

  31. Yes, I tried to write my own pattern a few months ago, for a sweater. Needless to say, it hasn’t yet come to fruition! πŸ™‚

  32. I practically get palpitations at the thought of designing something. I have enough trouble getting patterns to turn out the right size sometimes, even though I get gauge. It would break my heart having to rip back something that I designed that didn’t work.

  33. These look wonderful. I’ve never tried to design anything, but love to have stitch dictionaries around. I keep seeing possibilities.

  34. I would like to try it, especially when I get more advanced in my kntting but I worry tha I’m not creative enough or don’t understand enough about knitting and how certain stitches work.

  35. I collect stitch dictionaries too and I’ve tried designing a few things but have never actually knit them. Mostly what I end up with are odds and ends of swatches and little else….maybe someday!

  36. I have thought about it. I think designing might make me a better knitter and really understand in a way I don’t already. However, I’m intimidated and not sure where to start so I will probably stick with making small changes to purchased patterns.

  37. I started to design when I learned to knit, had to, there were no pattern books where I was born, but luckily my Granny and my aunties where all very talented and they shared their knowledge with me.
    I design at least 70% of what I knit. Love the process from start to finish. Lots of maths involved but fun at the same time. I have many books on design and stich dictionaries. I do knit from patterns as well, when I find things that I love. Very often though I do alter patterns or take bits from few and make completely new one.
    I think every knitter should try it, it is very satisfying.
    If you are creative just do it!!

  38. I fell in love with making felted bags a few years back. when felting was very popular. One bag led to another and another. Pretty soon, I had pictures in my head of what I wanted to knit, but couldn’t find a pattern to match. So, I wrote my own. That first bag worked up great, and I ended up writing about ten more patterns, all of which I’ve enjoyed knitting.

  39. I am trying to design a shawlette in memory of a dear friend. I also have several original designs for fingerless mitts and a couple of hats. I like the mental creativity I get to exercise when I am designing!

  40. As with recipes, which I can never just leave alone, I usually find something to tweek in a pettern. With socks, I usually combine several..never have designed anything all on my own though.

  41. I have designed things over the years. Mostly simple things like scarves, shawls, and hats. The very first thing I designed was a dog sweater for a little Chihuahua mix dog I had many years ago. It was essentially a fingerless mitten with two thumb holes. Sounds odd but was very cute! I don’t have enough confidence in my math skills to be able to design something more difficult (like sweaters)

  42. I designed a cowl in lace weight cashmere for the Ravelympics. It was fun. I did use a stitch dicrionary for the lace and a basic cable for some added interest. I have written it up but was having a hard time with making charts. I think I’ll give the Intertwined program a try. I’ve heard good things about it.

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