On Stitch Counts

by | Feb 25, 2022 | knitdesign

Do you have a pattern writing style? You should! Everyone should have a style sheet that they work with – in a future blog post I will be sharing more about mine and what you might want to include in yours. But today I just want to talk about stitch counts in pattern writing.



Stitch counts change. All the time. Unless you are knitting a scarf with a simple stitch pattern that never changes counts you need to keep your knitters in the know!

Do you need to let your knitters know every single stitch count change? Not exactly. Let’s use waist shaping as an example. This sweater is knit in the round:

Cast on 176 (192, 208, 224, 240, 256, 272) sts, place marker for beginning of rnd, and join to work in the rnd. Place a second marker halfway through the round for waist shaping. Work in pattern until body measures 3 (3, 3, 4, 4, 5, 5)” [7.5 (7.5, 7.5, 10, 10, 12.5, 12.5) cm].

Waist Shaping

Dec Rnd: *K6, k2tog, knit to 8 sts before next marker, ssk, k6; repeat from * once—4 sts dec’d.

Continuing in pattern as established, repeat Dec Rnd every 10th rnd 3 times more, keeping sts in pattern at waist as possible. Work even for 10 rnds—160 (176, 192, 208, 224, 240, 256) sts.

Inc Rnd: *K6, m1, knit to 6 sts before next marker, m1, k6; repeat from * once—4 sts inc’d.

Continuing in pattern as established, repeat Inc Rnd every 10th rnd 3 times more—176 (192, 208, 224, 240, 256, 272) sts.

See how I did that? I didn’t note every single decrease. That would get repetitive and take up valuable pattern space. But I gave counts when the decreases were completed and then again when the increases were completed. That gives the knitter good points to check on their progress.

You can do something similar if working a shawl. I do a lot of shawls that are lace heavy with intricate charts. But in general the shawls have a pretty static rate of increase (or in rare cases decreases). But it’s nice to have reference points to which your knitter can refer to make sure they are on track.

Shawl Body

Set-Up Section

CO 9 sts. Work the 8-Row set-up chart—37 sts.

All WS rows are worked as follows:

WS Rows (all): Sl1, purl to last st, k1tbl.

Body Section

Work the 14-Row body chart 7 times—343 sts.

Shawl Edging 

Work the 22-Row body chart once—641 sts.

At only 3 points do I give counts for this shawl. And I know a lot of knitters won’t count at all. It’s a pretty intricate lace pattern, and if their count is off they will know because the lace won’t be working.

But when in doubt though give your knitters the counts. As long as it doesn’t make your pattern run onto extra pages for printing, in most cases more knowledge is better!

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