Quetzal: a lace knitting stitch pattern

The word I drew from my word hoard for this stitch pattern is Quetzal, suggested by Ange, a Patreon supporter. Quetzals are a group of gloriously beautiful birds from Central America. I wish I had yarn in the iridescent blue-green that seems to be characteristic of all the quetzals, but I had to make do with this blue.

The top edge has irregular points because the stitch pattern doesn’t have mirror symmetry. I like it this way, but putting a different stitch pattern on the outer edge would solve that if it’s not to your taste.

Each month, my Patreon backers have the chance to suggest words for me to encode as knitting stitches. I make three of these into knitting stitches each month: the second and third (posted on the first day of the next month) are drawn from the collection of new words; the first is drawn from the collection of unused words. A random number generator helps me choose these, and then I get to work, first turning the letters into numbers, then charting the numbers onto grids in various ways. Finally, when I make the chart into lace, I turn the marked squares into yarnovers and work out where to place the corresponding decreases. (I usually make lace; occasionally I make cables instead.) I also make a chart for any craft that uses a square grid for designing; this goes in a separate post.

The stitch patterns are not meant in any way to look like the original words; the words are the seeds of my creativity.

Chart using symbols to describe how to knit Quetzal lace
Click chart to enlarge


  • This is a stitch pattern such as might be found in a stitch dictionary. It is not a pattern for a finished object. You will need to add selvedges or some other form of knitted stitches to either side.
  • Quetzal is a multiple of 24 stitches and 8 rows.
  • I’ve made a stitch map for Quetzal.
  • Designers, please feel free to use this in your patterns. I’d like credit but won’t be offended if people don’t give it.
  • My blog posts and free stitch patterns are supported by subscriptions on Patreon or donations to my Paypal tip jar in the sidebar. If you appreciate my work, please consider helping out. Thanks!


  • CDD: centered double decrease: slip the next 2 stitches as if to knit 2 together, knit the next stitch, then pass the 2 slipped stitches over the third.
  • k: knit.
  • k2tog: knit 2 stitches together as if they were 1. (Right-leaning decrease)
  • p: purl.
  • ssk: slip each of the next 2 stitches as if to knit, then knit them together through the back loop. (Or substitute your favorite left-leaning decrease)
  • yo: yarnover. Bring the yarn forward between the needles so that it will make a loop over the needle when the next stitch is worked. When there are two in a row, bring the yarn forward, wrap it once around the needle, and leave the yarn in front so it makes a second loop.

Row 1 (RS): *k2tog, k1, yo, k4, ssk, yo, k3, yo, k1, ssk, k1, k2tog, yo, k2, yo, ssk, k2; work from *. [24 sts]

Row 2 (WS): purl.

Row 3: *yo, ssk, k1, k2tog, yo × 2, ssk, k3, k2tog, yo, k2, yo × 2, CDD, k1, yo, CDD, yo × 2, ssk, k1; work from *.

Row 4: *p2, (k1, p1) in double yo, p4, (k1, p1) in double yo, p8, (k1, p1) in double yo, p4; work from *.

Row 5: *k2, k2tog, yo, k2, yo, ssk, k1, k2tog, k1, yo, k3, yo, k2tog, k4, yo, k1, ssk; work from *.

Row 6: purl.

Row 7: *k1, k2tog, yo × 2, CDD, yo, k1, CDD, yo × 2, k2, yo, ssk, k3, k2tog, yo × 2, ssk, k1, k2tog, yo; work from *.

Row 8: *p4, (k1, p1) in double yo, p8, (k1, p1) in double yo, p4, (k1, p1) in double yo, p2; work from *.