How to Convert Pattern Instructions From Stockinette Stitch to a Textured Pattern Stitch

Stockinette Stitch
Allover Cable Pattern

I’ve had this question posed to me many times, “How do you convert the pattern instructions from stockinette stitch to a textured pattern stitch?” The easy part to answering this question is you’re not starting the design process from scratch; all the measurements have been calculated, and more than likely a schematic is provided with the garment instructions. You are going to substitute the textured pattern stitch gauge for the stockinette stitch gauge, and recalculate the stitch numbers and row counts needed to knit up the project. As with all instructions, gauge is key to the success of your project.

What is a textured pattern stitch? The beauty of knitting is the way you can build texture and depth to the surface of the knit fabric. You can achieve texture through: knit and purl combinations, cables, crosses and twists, lace, and bobbles or loops that stand out from the surface of the fabric. Make sure to consider how the textured pattern stitch combined with the yarn will affect the overall design. For example, a cardigan knit with a bulky cotton and dense cables, will be quite heavy and may stretch.

Gauge is key to the successful completion of a design knit from pattern instructions, or those projects designed from scratch. All pattern instructions, including those projects you design begin with the gauge, the number of stitches and rows per inch/centimeter of knit fabric, calculated from the test swatch.

Your first step to substituting a textured pattern stitch for stockinette stitch is to make a large swatch incorporating the textured pattern stitches you want to use. Measure your swatch and calculate the stitch and row gauge. Refer to The Why and How of Test Swatching? for further information on making test swatches and calculating gauge.

Once you’ve calculated the gauge, make sure you have all the required measurements from the original instructions, and any other changes to adapt the pattern instructions to the new gauge. Now that you have calculated the gauge and have the necessary measurements, you’re going to calculate new stitch numbers and row counts. A great way to do this is to copy the schematic, if there is one, or draw a new one with the desired measurements. Convert the measurements to stitch numbers and row counts using the new gauge and write them on the schematic (see Design and Knit …Step 3: ). I’ve provided an example using the back of a cardigan and the new gauge for an allover cable pattern. Note: More than likely the textured pattern stitch consists of “multiples”, which have to be accounted for when calculating the stitch numbers. A “multiple” is the number of stitches required to form one complete pattern stitch or motif, horizontally, whether it be a cable or other motif. The number of stitches on the needle must be divisible by this number.

schematic showing new stitch numbers and row counts

Stitch numbers for this example – Lower edge 19.5in x 5sts/in = 98 sts; Armhole after shaping 14.5in x 5 = 73 sts (37 sts for back neck and 18 sts for each shoulder). Use either the imperial or metric system throughout the project. The calculations are the same for both systems.

Row counts – Lower edge to armhole 17.5in x 6rows/in = 106 rows; Armhole to beginning of shoulder shaping 8.5in x 6 = 52 rows.

What you need to adapt instructions from stockinette stitch to a textured stitch pattern is the necessary measurements from the pattern instructions, a test swatch of the textured pattern with its stitch and row gauge, then recalculate the stitch numbers and row counts, writing them on the schematic. I haven’t gone into the finer details of shaping, and adjusting row counts, but once you’ve adjusted a few patterns, you’ll understand for example that the number of rows between increases or decreases will need to be changed from the original instructions.