Secret Code Summary

(This is part of a series of posts on different ways of hiding meaning in your knitting.)

Table of Contents: Embedding meaning in Your Knitting | Converting Words to Numbers | Making a grid | Asymmetry or Symmetry? | Converting grids into stitch patterns | Lace | Cables | Other Encodings | Summary of My Method | Addendum: Ribbing | Further Resources

About a year ago I came up with an idea for turning Dewey Decimal library catalog numbers into knitted lace (Ravelry link) (hi, I’m a geeky librarian. :D). I’m still working on that shawl, but I’ve expanded my thoughts to general encoding of words and numbers into grids, and then knitting. This is a summary of my very long blog posts about this.

First, either pick a number you like or turn your words into numbers somehow. You can assign each letter a number from 01-26 (I like to convert mine into base 6 because it tends to make a better pattern) or use the ASCII codes or use some other method. I am particularly pleased by using Dewey Decimal numbers.

Then plot those numbers out on a grid. There are several ways of doing this, but the most straightforward is to make the length of one axis the same as the base you’re using (so six squares if you’re using base 6) and the length of the other the same as the number of digits you’re encoding. A five letter word will be 10 digits long in most of the methods I use, so it will fit in a 6×10 grid. Then mark the squares in each row of the grid accordingly.

Now you have a grid you can play with layout (be careful if you’re actually using secret code or you’ll make it indecipherable), and then turn the marked squares on the chart into knitting stitch symbols. It’s easiest for colorwork or purl stitches or slipped stitches. If you’re doing cables or lace, there’s more manipulation you have to do in the background.

Here’s a quick sequence for you:

Peace becomes 2405010305 (using base 6). Using a 6×10 grid, that becomes

I decided I didn’t care about decipherability, so I mirrored it on itself and then removed duplicate columns:

Used as straight-up colorwork, the chart produces

(There are more variants in the longer descriptions.)