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Navigating Knit Stitches with Stitch Maps

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Knitting stitch charts have been around for quite a while, and they are reasonably straightforward and standardized. However, they aren’t ideal for every type of stitch pattern. The website Stitch Maps offers a novel way of charting knitting patterns which solves some of the problems inherent in a grid-based knitting chart. Read on, and you’ll see how excited I am about this terrific web-based tool for knitters!

Traditional Charts

Dandelion Leaf pic
Dandelion Leaf swatch

The grid-based charts we are most familiar with show the pattern from the right side. Each square or rectangle in the grid represents a stitch, and symbols are used to indicate the type of stitch or maneuver (knit, purl, k2tog, etc.) that is to be done in that stitch.

Dandelion Leaf chart
Dandelion Leaf pattern as a traditional chart

These charts work well when the stitches are all neatly aligned in columns, with one stitch placed in each stitch throughout. However, throw in traveling stitches or lace patterns, with increases and decreases within the row, and all of a sudden it becomes difficult to see what is happening.

If you forgot a decrease a couple of rows back, which stitch is now your “extra” stitch and how do you fix it? Designers and editors are familiar with the frustration of trying to figure out how to line up shaping in a complex stitch pattern. Wouldn’t it be great if there were a way to visualize where each stitch travels, so you can better understand the structure of the fabric and, most importantly, correct mistakes without ripping out?

Stitch Maps to the Rescue
Stitch Maps is a web app that gives us a freeform way of presenting stitch charts. In Stitch Maps, the stitch symbols align themselves to the stitches above, below, and to either side, presenting a more realistic picture of how the stitches appear in the actual fabric.

Dandelion Leaf Stitch Map
Dandelion Leaf stitch map, reflecting the movement of the stitches

Stitch Maps shine even more with traveling stitch patterns, such as Traveling Vine.

Traveling Vine Swatch
Traveling Vine Swatch
Traveling Vine chart
Traveling Vine as a traditional chart
traveling-vineSM with Row guides
Traveling Vine stitch map with row guides shown

See more examples and get more details on the Stitch Maps overview page.

Pattern Collection & Abbreviations List

One of the most compelling aspects of is the pattern collection. There are currently 3599 patterns and counting. That’s an awesome number of stitch patterns to choose from! Some of the patterns include swatch photos, and there is a search feature that allows you to filter for exactly what you want. In other words, a very functional stitch dictionary at your fingertips.

Abbreviations screen grab
The abbreviations list is massive!

The extensive abbreviations list provided is a useful tool by itself; I often refer to it when I’m preparing a traditional chart or searching for the definition of a technique.

Cost & Support

Browsing and contributing to the pattern collection is free. Basic and Premium subscriptions give you additional options for highlighting rows, saving, exporting, and other features. Developer JC Briar is a knitting teacher and designer, as well as a software developer; she fully supports her app and answers questions promptly. The Stitch Maps Ravelry group is full of Q&A’s and useful tips.

Give Stitch Maps a try, and let me know what you think!

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