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Stitch Pattern Calculator

Click here to access the Calculator

I spent a couple of hours several months back, working through the Javascript Fundamentals course at Codecademy and I was inspired to create a simple calculator to aid in shawl knitting. It solves two questions:

1. How many repeats of this stitch pattern can I fit into my stitch count?
2. How many stitches would I need to have for my stitch pattern to fit perfectly?

If you knit and design shawls on a regular basis, you’ll know how frequently you need to make this sort of calculation. Of course the calculator can be used for all sorts of knitting projects, but I thought I would briefly outline how to use it for shawls.

Using the Calculator for Shawl Borders

If you would like to add a simple border to a plain top-down shawl, you can use the technique I mentioned in Easy Shawl Borders in conjunction with the Shawl Knitting Cheat Sheet. Choose a stitch pattern, count the number of stitches on your needle, then use the calculator to determine how many repeats you can work. If you need a total number of stitches that your increase rate will not allow, then I recommend fudging. No one will know that you only increased 2 sts on that last row instead of 4! ;)

Using the Calculator for Shawl Edgings

You can also use the calculator to help you find/adjust edgings that will work for your shawl. This is easiest when you’re working a top-down shawl and are knitting an edging onto live stitches. In this case, instead of inputting the number of stitches your stitch pattern requires, you would use the number of rows in one repeat. The selvedge stitch number would usually be 0 unless you work a set-up or bind-off row.

Knitting & Programming

I love knitting and I love languages, so it follows that I should like programming. There is a long-standing tradition linking textiles and programming, and I recently came across this excellent article on Knitting as Programming (thanks to my Dad, who teaches Java). Alex draws a distinction between “executing” (knitting) a pattern, and actually programming it (writing/inventing the instructions). It all ties in (in my opinion) to the question of how detailed pattern instructions need to be. I certainly enjoy creating “design formulas” like my Crescent Shawl Shaping Worksheet, and the Fill-in-the-Blanks Shawl Design ebook I’m currently working on. The latter is particularly program-like, including if/else statements and loops. And while I have a long way to go before I can call myself even an intermediate programmer, I do enjoy Alex’s description of an experienced knitter, in particular the phrase “knot topology”:

When it comes to this kind of knitting, an experienced knitter is one who takes a modular approach, mixing and matching existing patterns and individual techniques, to build a finished product. It’s someone who can look at a pattern and figure out how to knit it in a different yarn, a different gauge, and a different size, without breaking a sweat over the calculations. It’s someone who geeks out on the knot topology, the 3D spatial reasoning, and the materials science of it all… and knows how to put them to practical use. It’s the difference between being a code monkey and being an engineer.

I hope you find my forays into programming useful, and have a go yourself at being a stitch engineer. :)

19th June, 2012  // Downloads, Knitwear Design // tags: , , , , .

Ric Rac Rose Roundup

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ric rac rose

I’m absolutely in love with this simple technique for making dainty fabric roses, and as promised yesterday, I wanted to share links to my favourite tutorials, and a few tips along the way.

ric rac roses

Firstly, I came across 3 different ways to form these roses.

1. One length of rick-rack rolled up.
This technique is especially good for making rosebuds (like the ones in the photo above) and using up shorter lengths of ric rac. Here’s another blog with beautiful necklaces made in this way.

2. Two lengths of rick-rack twisted around each other and then rolled up. (here’s another tutorial)
This is the technique I used for my roses. The only difficulty is unwinding the twined ric rac which has a tendency to twist around itself.

3. One length of rick-rack folded in half and then rolled up.
This technique produces roses that look just as nice, but I’m not sure I’m adept enough with an iron to be able to press ric rac in half. Perhaps there’s a trick?

I had never realised how much fun ric rac is! So many sweet colours to choose from…

ric rac
ric rac
ric rac
ric rac


– I used 5mm ric rac, which makes dainty, relatively shallow roses. When I tried with 1cm ric rac, I found the rose was too tall.
– You can sew your rose if you like, but I think a hot glue gun is probably faster.
– Pretty hardware will make these roses even nicer as gifts.
– However, you can easily slide one onto a bobby pin for a pretty hair accessory, or a paperclip to make a bookmark.
– If you have hot glue strands on your rose, just hold a blow dryer over it and they’ll melt away.
– I made the purple rose with two shades of ric rac twined together, which produces a really nice effect.
– With furled petals I think the roses look rather like ranunculus (see my orange flower above).

ric rac rose
ric rac rose

I hope you enjoy making these flowers as much as I have! And don’t forget to finish your gift off with a printable gift tag

ric rac rose

15th March, 2012  // How To // tags: , , , .

Watercolour Gift Tags & Card

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I made these to accompany my Mum’s birthday gift. Perhaps you’ll find them handy? Especially if you’ve forgotten that it’s Mothering Sunday this weekend, which I’m sure you haven’t! There are two gift tags and a card which you can print out and customise.

watercolour gift tags

You can use an image-editing program to add text to the front of the card, although I think some ink calligraphy would make the whole thing look more hand-painted and less inkjet-printed. Print them on cardstock if you can, and if you’re like me and diligently save tiny lengths of leftovers, use them for the tie.

watercolour doodle & flower

Doodling with watercolours is almost as relaxing as knitting, as long as you don’t try too hard. I’ve particularly been enjoying this ebook: Fearless Watercolours.


Here’s another way to use your gift tags. These little roses are shockingly simple to create for last-minute gifts, party favours or just for yourself. I have prepared a post about them for tomorrow so don’t miss it! :)

14th March, 2012  // Downloads // tags: , , , , .
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