tips tricks and techniques

One question I often get asked, particularly from those new to lace or textured knitting, is: what does it mean when a stitch pattern says “a multiple of 6 + 1″? What the heck is a “stitch multiple”?

It can sound pretty intimidating and all a-jumble.

multiples graphicLet’s try to un-jumble the numbers and see what “stitch multiple” means. If your patterns says, “make sure you have a multiple of 6 + 1”, how many stitches should you cast-on? The quick answer is that it takes six stitches for the pattern repeat but then, to balance the pattern (or for some other reason), you must add one more stitch to the end. You do NOT want to work a a multiple of (6+1) or 7 sts.

For instance, if you want to have five repeats of the pattern … you would then cast on 31 sts (or add a few more to either side for a garter edge). I usually work at least 3sts on each side, so I would cast on:

3 edge sts + [(6×5 repeats)+1] + 3 edge sts = 37 sts

If I want to have 7 repeats, I would CO:

3 edge sts + [(6×7 repeats) +1] + 3 edge sts = 49 sts

I can also say, “but I want to cast on about 45 sts to make a scarf that is about 8 inches wide”.

OK, here’s how to do that:

divide 45 by 6 = 7.5 —-> I want 7 repeats x 6 = 42sts + 1 = 43 sts to cast on OR I could round-up to 8 reps x 6 = 48sts + 1 = 49 sts to cast on.

But, ask many people, WHY do you need that extra stitch?

Let me give you a specific example from a recent design:

Arrow Lace - a multiple of 6sts + 1

Arrow Lace – a multiple of 6sts + 1

Arrow Lace – multiple of 6sts + 1
The above image shows two horizontal and two vertical repeats of a “6st + 1″ lace design that takes 10 rows to complete. Here are the written directions for this lace pattern:
Arrow Lace (mult 6+1 sts, 10 rows) – worked flat
 row 1(RS): [k3, yo, ssk, k1], end k1.
 row 2 (and all WS rows): p across
 row 3: [k1, k2tog, yo, k1, yo, ssk], end k1
 row 5: k2tog, [yo, k3, yo, (sl st, k2tog, psso)] rep to last two sts, ssk
 row 7: [k1, yo, ssk, k1, k2tog, yo], end k1
 row 9: [k1, yo, ssk, k1, k2tog, yo], end k1
 row 10: p across

If you notice, I show 13 sts on the chart — 6 x 2reps + 1 = 13sts. On row 5 we see WHY we needed that extra st: between the repeats (7th st), you see a double-decrease (a little teepee, if you will). This double-decrease uses three sts and ends with one st. This means that you are “borrowing” 1 stitch from the end of one repeat to work it with the first two sts of the next repeat – this is the slipped st which will be passed-over the two that are knit together.

If you hadn’t added the extra stitch at the end of the pattern section, your pattern would be off-balance — you would end with a yarn-over and one st to knit. This would mean that you would increase one stitch every right-side row, thus growing your piece toward the right.

Which USUALLY you don’t want.

By adding the extra stitch, I can SSK the last two stitches (which balances the yarn-over increase) and my piece remains a rectangle.

Any time you want to play with stitch patterns, or a design you’re trying to knit asks for you to work a “multiple + a number”, just remember to multiply the stitch-repeat by how many repeats you want + the extra stitch(es). Conversely, divide the total number of stitches you’d like to cast on by the stitch-repeat and adjust the total cast on number to be an even multiple + the extra stitch(es).

Any questions? Just mention them in the comments below and I’ll get right back to you!sig block

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