As part of the learning process of designing my own shawls, I’ve been examining stitch patterns. Rather than simply copying them from stitch dictionaries, I want to understand how they work, why the fabric knitted with a certain stitch pattern behaves the way it does. And it’s an excuse to play with Stitch Mastery, the chart design software I indulged myself in purchasing to draw up the charts for Tidal Beach.
Anyway, it’s led to some interesting discoveries. For one, there’s a difference between stacked and staggered pattern repeats, as demonstrated by the classic stitch Mrs. Montague’s Pattern. This is what it looks like:
This is the chart for Mrs. Montague’s Pattern:
This chart is for a single repeat of the pattern. Now look at a chart with a few repeats of the same pattern (you can click on the image to view a larger version).
The red box indicates the stitch repeat we’ve seen above. As you can see, the stitches in the box are repeated again in the rows above in the exact same way. The repeats sit neatly on top of each other. This is what I call a stacked repeat. However, if you look at it very closely, however, you will see that the stitch pattern actually breaks down further than a segment of 16 stitches by 16 rows:
The two red boxes contain exactly the same stitches. Mrs. Montague’s pattern is charted the way it is in the first picture, as that block of 16 stitches and 16 rows can be neatly stacked on top of one another. The stitches in this last chart (16 stitches by 8 rows) need to be staggered to created the nice symmetrical pattern in your knitted fabric.
You can, of course, choose to stack these smaller stitch repeats as well, which would create the following chart:
Knitted up, stacked repeats of the broken down Mrs. Montague’s Pattern looks like this:
So by choosing to stagger or stack the repeats of the same batch of 16 stitches by 8 rows, you can get a very different outcome.