Tinsel: a lace knitting stitch pattern

The first word I drew from the words suggested on Patreon this month is Tinsel, suggested by Antoinette, a Patreon supporter. It was nice of the random number generator to pull this out when it was seasonally appropriate! The etymology for Tinsel says that it originally meant “a kind of cloth made with interwoven gold or silver thread.” I can see how we got from there to a word that means thin, metallic, shiny ribbons used for decoration.

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 Tinsel needlework chart for any craft that uses a square grid for designing.

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 Tinsel lace
Chart showing how to work the Tinsel needlework chart by means of special symbols. Written instructions in blog post.
click chart to enlarge


  • The bottom half of the swatch is two repeats of rows 1-14 (version 1) and one repeat of rows 1-28 (version 2).
  • These are stitch patterns such as might be found in a stitch dictionary. They are not patterns for a finished object. You will need to add selvedges or some other form of knitted stitches to either side.
  • Tinsel is a multiple of 10 + 11 stitches. Version 1 is 14 rows (row 1-14) and version 2 is either 28 or 28 + 14 rows (end after either row 14 or 28).
  • I’ve made stitch maps for version 1 and version 2.
  • Designers, please feel free to use these 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!


  • BEY (bunny ears yarnover): This turns three stitches into three stitches with a yarnover in the middle. Knit 2 together, but only remove the first stitch from the needle; yarn over; then work ssk with the second and third stitches. The middle stitch of the original three has been knit together with each of its neighbors. Blog post about bunny ears yarnover.
  • CDD: slip the next 2 stitches as if to knit 2 together, knit the next stitch, then pass the 2 slipped stitches over the third. (Stands for centered double decrease.)
  • k: knit.
  • k2tog: knit 2 stitches together as if they were 1. (Right-leaning decrease)
  • p: purl.
  • p1‑below: purl one below. For this stitch pattern, it’s not quite the same as a regular p1‑below, because it’s actually purling the bar below a yarnover, but the action is much the same. From behind, pick up the bar below the yarnover with the right needle and place it on the left needle next to the yarnover; purl both those strands at the same time. This prevents the bar from making a horizontal line in front of the yarnover.
  • 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): yo, ssk, k2, *(BEY, k2) × 2; work from *, BEY, k2, k2tog, yo. (21 sts)

Row 2 (WS): p5, *(p1‑below, p4) × 2; work from *, p1‑below, p5.

Row 3: k3, k2tog, yo, k1, *yo, ssk, k5, k2tog, yo, k1; work from *, yo, ssk, k3.

Row 4: purl.

Row 5: k2, k2tog, yo × 2, cdd, *yo × 2, ssk, k3, k2tog, yo × 2, cdd; work from *, yo × 2, ssk, k2.

Row 6: p3, (k1, p1) in double yo, *p1, (k1, p1) in double yo, p5, (k1, p1) in double yo; work from *, p1, (k1, p1) in double yo, p3.

Row 7: k1, k2tog, yo, k1, *BEY, k1, yo, ssk, k1, k2tog, yo, k1; work from *, BEY, k1, yo, ssk, k1.

Row 8: p5, *p1‑below, p9; work from *, p1‑below, p5.

Row 9: k2tog, yo, k4, *k3, yo, cdd, yo, k4; work from *, k3, yo, ssk.

Row 10: purl.

Row 11: ssk, yo, k2tog, yo, *BEY, yo, ssk, yo, cdd, yo, k2tog, yo; work from *, BEY, yo, ssk, yo, k2tog.

Row 12: p5, *p1‑below, p9; work from *, p1‑below, p5.

Row 13: k1, k2tog, yo, k3, *k2, yo, ssk, k1, k2tog, yo, k3; work from *, k2, yo, ssk, k1.

Row 14: purl.

Row 15: yo, ssk, k2, *(BEY, k2) × 2; work from *, BEY, k2, k2tog, yo.

Row 16: p5, *(p1‑below, p4) × 2; work from *, p1‑below, p5.

Row 17: k1, yo, ssk, k3, *k2, k2tog, yo, k1, yo, ssk, k3; work from *, k2, k2tog, yo, k1.

Row 18: purl.

Row 19: ssk, yo × 2, ssk, k2, *k1, k2tog, yo × 2, cdd, yo × 2, ssk, k2; work from *, k1, k2tog, yo × 2, k2tog.

Row 20: p1, (k1, p1) in double yo, p3, *p2, (k1, p1) in double yo, p1, (k1, p1) in double yo, p2; work from *, p3, (k1, p1) in double yo, p1.

Row 21: (yo, ssk, k1) × 2, *k2tog, yo, k1, BEY, k1, yo, ssk, k1; work from *, k2tog, yo, k1, k2tog, yo.

Row 22: p5, *p5, p1‑below, p4; work from *, p6.

Row 23: k4, yo, cdd, *yo, k7, yo, cdd; work from *, yo, k4.

Row 24: purl.

Row 25: (yo, ssk) × 2, yo, cdd, *yo, k2tog, yo, BEY, yo, ssk, yo, cdd; work from *, (yo, k2tog) × 2, yo.

Row 26: purl.

Row 27: k3, yo, ssk, k1, *k2tog, yo, k5, yo, ssk, k1; work from *, k2tog, yo, k3.

Row 28: purl.