# Etude no. 26: designing knit-purl stitch patterns

I mostly haven’t done much with designing knit-purl patterns with my secret code grids, but I thought it might be interesting to try one, with some notes about the considerations involved.

In music, an étude is a kind of musical exercise meant to increase skill in a single technique. I used to take classical violin lessons when I was young, so I was assigned my share of études to practice at home.

The études on my blog aren’t quite the same, but they’re not unlike. They’re exercises in design techniques that I’ve assigned myself to see what I can accomplish and what I can learn from them.

Combining knit and purl stitches in a stitch pattern makes for texture, but the structure of them means that different stitches or parts of stitches come to the front or recede toward the back depending on their context. I know some of the rules just from experience, but I’m still often taken by surprise, because sometimes they layer on top of each other to make results I can’t predict well. Happily, I enjoy trying things out to see what happens.

I’m going to explain what I know about knit-purl designs in general, and then walk through turning a code grid I designed a while back into some different options, and explain what happens. Note that my early explanations are incomplete; I learned or was reminded of things as I knit the different versions. I wrote about those changing thoughts as I went. I explain my shifting understanding because I hope seeing learning and exploration in process is helpful for readers.

The final charts and written instructions are at the bottom of the post.

The two most basic knit-purl patterns are garter stitch and (k1, p1) rib stitch.

While garter stitch is all knit stitch when worked flat, it has the same structure as working a row of purl stitches above a row of knit stitches in the round. The ridges in garter stitch are useful to think about in more complex patterns: if there’s a right-side purl stitch on a chart with a wrong-side purl stitch above it, it will make what I think of as a purl blip that sticks out from a stockinette background. Horizontal lines of dots will make a short garter ridge that sticks out. The ridge is formed by the transition between the purl and knit stitches.

In (k1, p1) ribbing, the columns of knit stitch come to the front while the purl columns recede. There have to be several rows of column before this effect comes into play.

As I said, I haven’t done much with knit-purl patterns. My starting point is to look for a chart that doesn’t have visible ribbing. This is not a fool-proof method! Sometimes ribbing makes a good effect; sometimes the chart doesn’t do what I expect regardless.

I thought this chart I made for the digits 2015 would be a good starting point,

To make this into a k-p chart, I worked the light squares as knit on the right side and purl on the wrong side, and the dark squares as purl on the right side and knit on the wrong side. Here is the result:

Something I hadn’t considered when I looked at the chart is that while there aren’t any dark vertical lines that would act as purl columns, there are solid white vertical lines with some black stitches to either side that produce a ribbing effect with knit stitches. The texture looks less like the chart than I expected, though it still has some vague resemblance.

So I tried a method that can force the design to emerge more clearly: adding alternating plain rows (purl stitch on the wrong side).

The photo is a bit blurry (my apologies), but I think you can see this worked pretty well, though it was hard to tell until after I washed the sample and laid it flat to dry

A while back, I made a small change in the 2015 needlework chart to make it look more like tiny snowflakes, and so I thought it was worth trying that as knit-purl so you can see how a minor change can make a huge difference.

Here it’s more obvious that there will be a ribbing effect because there’s solid black vertical lines as well as solid white ones.

And indeed, there we go. I also tried the same chart, but with alternating plain rows:

The snowflakes are nicely visible here, even though theres some columns I hadn’t realized would act like garter rib

In any case, I hope you can see that knit-purl patterns can produce some pretty interesting results, and the best way to see what they’ll do is to try knitting them.

Here are the charts and written instructions for these patterns:

## Notes:

- 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.
- All of these charts are a multiple of 6 + 7 stitches and either 10 + 5 or 20 + 10 rows.
- None of these designs have a ratio of knits to purls that will prevent curling.
- 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!

## Abbreviations:

- I neglected to make a key for the charts below. All the dotted squares are purl on the right side and knit on the wrong side; all the plain squares are knit on the right side and purl on the wrong side.
**k:**knit.**p:**purl.

## 2015 version 1

**Row 1 (RS)**: k3, p1, *k5, p1; work from *, k3.

**Row 2 (WS)**: p1, k1, p1, *p2, (k1, p1) × 2; work from *, p2, k1, p1.

**Row 3**: k2, p2, *p1, k3, p2; work from *, p1, k2.

**Row 4**: p1, k1, p1, *p2, (k1, p1) × 2; work from *, p2, k1, p1.

**Row 5**: k3, p1, *k5, p1; work from *, k3.

**Row 6**: k1, p2, *p3, k1, p2; work from *, p3, k1.

**Row 7**: k2, p1, k1, *p1, k3, p1, k1; work from *, p1, k2.

**Row 8**: k2, p1, *p2, k3, p1; work from *, p2, k2.

**Row 9**: k2, p1, k1, *p1, k3, p1, k1; work from *, p1, k2.

**Row 10**: k1, p2, *p3, k1, p2; work from *, p3, k1.

Work rows 1-10 as desired, ending with either row 5 or row 10.

## 2015 version 2

**Row 1 (RS)**: k3, p1, *k5, p1; work from *, k3.

**Row 2 (WS)**: purl.

**Row 3**: k1, p1, k2, *(k1, p1) × 2, k2; work from *, k1, p1, k1.

**Row 4**: purl.

**Row 5**: k2, p2, *p1, k3, p2; work from *, p1, k2.

**Row 6**: purl.

**Row 7**: k1, p1, k2, *(k1, p1) × 2, k2; work from *, k1, p1, k1.

**Row 8**: purl.

**Row 9**: k3, p1, *k5, p1; work from *, k3.

**Row 10**: purl.

**Row 11**: p1, k3, *k2, p1, k3; work from *, k2, p1.

**Row 12**: purl.

**Row 13**: k2, p1, k1, *p1, k3, p1, k1; work from *, p1, k2.

**Row 14**: purl.

**Row 15**: p2, k2, *k1, p3, k2; work from *, k1, p2.

**Row 16**: purl.

**Row 17**: k2, p1, k1, *p1, k3, p1, k1; work from *, p1, k2.

**Row 18**: purl.

**Row 19**: p1, k3, *k2, p1, k3; work from *, k2, p1.

**Row 20**: purl.

Work rows 1-20 as desired, ending with either row 10 or row 20.

## Tiny snowflakes version 1

**Row 1 (RS)**: k1, *k2, p1, k3; work from *, k2, p1, k3. (13 sts)

**Row 2 (WS)**: (p1, k1) × 3, *(p1, k1) × 3; work from *, p1.

**Row 3**: k1, *k1, p3, k2; work from *, k1, p3, k2.

**Row 4**: (p1, k1) × 3, *(p1, k1) × 3; work from *, p1.

**Row 5**: k1, *k2, p1, k3; work from *, k2, p1, k3.

**Row 6**: k1, p2, *p3, k1, p2; work from *, p3, k1.

**Row 7**: (p1, k1) × 2, *(p1, k1) × 3; work from *, p1, k1, p1.

**Row 8**: k2, p1, *p2, k3, p1; work from *, p2, k2.

**Row 9**: (p1, k1) × 2, *(p1, k1) × 3; work from *, p1, k1, p1.

**Row 10**: k1, p2, *p3, k1, p2; work from *, p3, k1.

Work rows 1-10 as desired, ending with either row 5 or row 10.

## Tiny snowflakes knit-purl, version 2

**Row 1 (RS)**: k1, *k2, p1, k3; work from *, k2, p1, k3. (13 sts)

**Row 2 (WS)**: purl.

**Row 3**: k1, *(p1, k1) × 3; work from *, (p1, k1) × 3.

**Row 4**: purl.

**Row 5**: k1, *k1, p3, k2; work from *, k1, p3, k2.

**Row 6**: purl.

**Row 7**: k1, *(p1, k1) × 3; work from *, (p1, k1) × 3.

**Row 8**: purl.

**Row 9**: k1, *k2, p1, k3; work from *, k2, p1, k3.

**Row 10**: purl.

**Row 11**: p1, k3, *k2, p1, k3; work from *, k2, p1.

**Row 12**: purl.

**Row 13**: (p1, k1) × 2, *(p1, k1) × 3; work from *, p1, k1, p1.

**Row 14**: purl.

**Row 15**: p2, k2, *k1, p3, k2; work from *, k1, p2.

**Row 16**: purl.

**Row 17**: (p1, k1) × 2, *(p1, k1) × 3; work from *, p1, k1, p1.

**Row 18**: purl.

**Row 19**: p1, k3, *k2, p1, k3; work from *, k2, p1.

**Row 20**: purl.

Work rows 1-20 as desired, ending with either row 10 or row 20.