Sunday, November 25, 2012

Using Mathematical Style Notation for Pattern Written Directions

I take notes on every pattern I knit. I am particularly interested in saving a description of my pattern modifications and what rows I've knitted in order to either repeat what I've knit or to aid in further modifications of the pattern for future knitting. This has resulted in a need to be able to quickly write down what I've done. Since my background is engineering, I have borrowed from Mathematics and Software Programming to create a notation that is useful for quickly writing down a pattern.

This notation consists of parenthesis, brackets, asterisk and numeric values to indicate what is repeated and how many times.

So here goes.

Repeat a Single Stitch for an Entire Row

Knit a row of knits: K*
In this example I am using the asterisk to indicate the pattern repeats to the end of the row.

Repeat a Stitch a Specific Number of Times

Knit 4 knit stitches: K4
This one is seen in many patterns.

Repeat a Pattern to the End of a Row

Knit a row of 1x1 rib: (K1, P1)*
Knit a row of 2x2 rib: (K2 P2)*
Knit a row of alternating rib: (K2, P2, K1, P1)*
You may use comma's or spaces to separate individual stitches. Its up to you. I typically use commas so that stitches such as K2tog tbl are clear.

Repeat a Pattern a Specific Number of Times

Knit 4 repeats of 2x2 rib: (K2, P2)4
In this example we want to repeat a 2x2 rib 4 times. The end result is 16 stitches. In standard written notation we have: "knit *K2 P2*; repeat from * to * 4 times". We are starting to see the savings provided by this notation.

Repeat a Pattern within a Border

Stockinette within a Garter an YO Border: Row 1: K3, YO, K*, YO, K3; Row 2: K3, YO, P*, YO, K3. In this example we start with 4 border stitches, repeat a single stitch until we get to the last 4 stitches where we can perform the border.
Repeat a Ribbed Pattern within a Garter Border: K3, YO, (K1, P1)*, YO, K3
This example is only slightly more complex than the last. In this case we have 3 border stitches followed by a YO. We then repeat K1, P1 until 3 stitches remain and then finish off the border with a YO, K3. If we were to write this out in standard written directions we would say: "k3, YO *K1, P1*, repeat form * to * until 3 stitches remain, YO, K3"

Now lets get a bit more complicated. We can nest parenthesis and brackets to create smaller repeats within larger repeats.

Nesting Brackets and Parenthesis

[(K1, P1)3, PM, (K1, P1)4, PM]*: This example is ** *K1, P1*, repeat from * to * 3 times, PM, ***K1, P1***, repeat from *** to *** 4 times, then repeat from ** to ** to end of row. Ouch!! Writing this sort of repeat out can get very complicated. In this case I use both parenthesis and square brackets for clarity. Mixing parenthesis and brackets is really up to you.

Hopefully this technique will be useful to some of you. I am including this notation in all of my patterns.

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