How: a lace knitting stitch pattern

The second word I drew from the words suggested on Patreon last month is How, suggested by Enting, a Patreon supporter. This is “how” as in “how is it May already?”

This ended up being one of my rare code lace designs with only simple yarnovers and decreases. It does have knitting through the back loop in the next right side row to tighten up the stitches above the yarnovers (this is a trick I learned from Dorothy Reade’s work), because I felt it improved the look of this particular lace. Ordinarily I like them looser as I feel it gives a more complex, organic look to my lace.

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 made a How 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.

knitted sample of How lace
chart showing how to knit How lace by means of knitting symbols
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.
  • How is a multiple of 9 stitches and 12 or 12 + 6 rows (end after either row 6 or 12).
  • I’ve made a stitch map for How.
  • 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!


  • k: knit.
  • k1 tbl: knit 1 through the back loop to twist it.
  • 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): *k1, k1 tbl, k2, k1 tbl, yo, ssk, k1 tbl, k1; work from *. (9 sts)

Row 2 (WS): purl.

Row 3: *k1, k2tog, yo, k2, k1 tbl, yo, ssk, k1; work from *.

Row 4: purl.

Row 5: *k2tog, yo, k1 tbl, k2tog, yo, k1, k1 tbl, yo, ssk; work from *.

Row 6: purl.

Row 7: *k1, k1 tbl, k2tog, yo, k1 tbl, k2, k1 tbl, k1; work from *.

Row 8: purl.

Row 9: *k1, k2tog, yo, k1 tbl, k2, yo, ssk, k1; work from *.

Row 10: purl.

Row 11: *k2tog, yo, k1 tbl, k1, yo, ssk, k1 tbl, yo, ssk; work from *.

Row 12: purl.