Knitting Design - Tutorial - 針識設計

Hung Chueng Garments

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Designing Knitwear - Getting Started - 設計毛衣

Once you can knit, there is nothing to stop you from designing your own simply shaped garments. This is the first part of a series of articles which will show you how.

Knitting is maths; knitwear design even more so. This is a thought that often scares people, but nobody who knits need be afraid of the numbers, as all knitters are already counting and measuring as they go. The mathematical side doesn’t have to be difficult or complex, but it is vital.

Designing your own patterns is straightforward and satisfying. It is important to take it one step at a time, starting with your equipment and your tension swatch.


  • Knitting needles (of course)
  • Yarn – do you have enough? Compare the type of garment you have in mind with similar patterns to ensure that you have enough for your needs. Designing your own garments can be a great way of using up your yarn stash, but make sure that you are combining yarns of similar weight and type, unless you are using their difference as part of your design (設計).

Comparing yarns

A quick way to compare yarn weights is to check their “wraps per inch” (wpi). Wrap the yarn around a large diameter needle, so that the wraps touch each other without gaps or “bunching”. Then hold this needle next to your tape measure, and count how many wraps of the needle are in one inch. Yarns with the same number of wpi can be used without having an effect on your tension.

Other essentials

  • Tape measure
  • Pins
  • Calculator (unless your mental arithmetic is exceptional)
  • Notepad and pen to mark down your measurements, and write your design (設計).

Useful to have

  • Graph paper (you can make your own using this link). This will make your life much easier, in terms of calculating any shaping needed, and allowing you to map out any colour patterns.
  • Pencil (and eraser)
  • Coloured pens or pencils (especially if you’re working on multicoloured patterns)
  • Directory of stitch patterns – available in book form or on line.

Working your swatch

Select your yarn and needles and knit a swatch. This is the building block of your entire design (設計), and so it’s worth doing properly. Work a reasonable size piece (e.g. 50 rows over 50 sts) using the pattern you wish to incorporate into your design (設計).

As well as enabling you to measure your gauge, your swatch will give you a chance to see how the pattern looks once worked, and how enjoyable it is to knit. It is better to decide at this stage that the beautiful cable pattern is a pain in the neck, rather than half way through the garment.

When you have completed your swatch, give it a quick iron, as appropriate to the yarn and pattern (obviously, don’t press cable patterns, but ironing is vital for lace).

Using your tape measure and pins, mark out 4”/10cm in either direction. NB – Use either imperial or metric measurements; do not mix the two.

Now count the number of stitches and rows between the pins, and work out the total per inch or cm; for instance, 22 sts per 10cm = 2.2 sts per cm OR 22 rows per 4” = 5.5 rows per inch.

It may seem strange that you are marking parts of stitches, but remember that this is just your starting point.

Once you have done this you are ready to start working out your design (設計), which is covered in part two of this series.