Dreich: a lace knitting stitch pattern

The first word I drew from the words suggested on Patreon this month is Dreich, suggested by Antoinette, a Patreon supporter.

Dreich is a word from the Scots language. I’ve occasionally seen it used on Twitter, with a meaning of bleak, miserable, dismal, cheerless, dreary.  This Scots dictionary has more detail. An important thing I’ve learned in the last few years is that Scots is a fascinating language with an interesting history. I don’t know enough to say much about it, but my limited understanding is that its development from Old English took its own path. It’s not simply modern English with some Scottish words plugged into it. But I digress!

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 Dreich 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 Dreich lace
chart showing how to knit Dreich lace in special symbols. Written instructions in blog post.
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.
  • Dreich is a multiple of 10 + 11 stitches and 10 rows.
  • I’ve made a stitch map for Dreich.
  • 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!


  • 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.
  • DSD: ssk, slip the resulting stitch back to the left needle, pass the next stitch over, then slip the result. Substitute knit 3 together if desired; they are similar but don’t look quite the same. (Right-leaning double decrease.) More information about DSD.
  • 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.
  • sk2p: slip 1, k2tog, pass slipped stitch over. (Left-leaning double decrease.)
  • 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): k2, ssk, yo, *BEY, yo, k2tog, k3, ssk, yo; work from *, BEY, yo, k2tog, k2. (21 sts)

Row 2 (WS): p5, *p1‑below, p9; work from *, p1‑below, p5.

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

Row 4: p5, *p5, p1‑below, p4; work from *, p6.

Row 5: k1, yo, DSD, yo, *BEY, yo, sk2p, yo, k1, yo, DSD, yo; work from *, BEY, yo, sk2p, yo, k1.

Row 6: p5, *p1‑below, p9; work from *, p1‑below, p5.

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

Row 8: purl.

Row 9: yo, ssk × 2, yo, k2, *k1, yo, k2tog, BEY, ssk, yo, k2; work from *, k1, yo, k2tog × 2, yo.

Row 10: p5, *p5, p1‑below, p4; work from *, p6.