Grace and Mercy: Pattern Stitches that Forgive

As part of our “Designing For . . . “ series, we’re taking a look at pattern stitches that grant us a little bit of grace–a bit of stretch to cover all of the question marks that can arise when knitting to someone’s unique figure:

  • Knitting for someone when the measurements are uncertain
  • Knitting for a changing figure (pregnancy, planned weight loss, illness, etc.)
  • Kitting for that super awesome BBQ where we plan to eat a little of everything and we don’t want to hear any lectures about it, thank you very much!

Pattern stitches that incorporate a bit of stretch are not only lovely but practical as well.  They can help your piece retain shape and give an extra inch or two of room to cover changing figures or flawed measurements.  They can also offset the not-so-stretchy patterns we also incorporate into our knitting.

Rib knit patterns are the classic example of a stitch that gives and stretches, but there are many, many beautiful variations on the rib knit pattern.

Here are links to the two rib variations above:

Rib with Crossed Stitches

Twisted Cable Rib Stitch

The added bonus with these and similar variations on the rib knit stitch is that they incorporate cables, which are notoriously lacking in stretch, while still maintaining stretchiness.  Best of both worlds!

Here are some other rib knit variations you may like:

Slip Stitch Rib NSAD-Fancy-Slip-Stitch-Rib-rs-close     

Knotted Rib knottedrib   

Double Eyelet Rib  double-eyelet-rib-knitting-pattern

Open Chain Rib  Open Chain Rib

Textured Tiles  Textured Tiles


The third example above is a honeycomb stitch, which has a wonderful three-dimensional texture that allows it to stretch quite a bit without losing the beauty of the stitch.  We laid our swatch over a pillow with an uneven shape to illustrate the point.  Think about incorporating this or similar patterns as you start knitting your summer finery with those not-so-stretchy pure cotton yarns. (We plan to!)

It’s also nice to include a strategically placed rib or two into a larger pattern to sneak in a little stretch here and there, as with this aran pattern from the Ryan Clan:


Our upcoming Marled Sweaterdress incorporates several P2, K3, P2 ribs on either side of a cable stitch in the lower skirt to add stretch through the hips.  The bold vertical lines also draw the eye away from the hips and towards the center, creating a slimming effect.

Marled Sweaterdress in Progress

What stitches do you use to add a bit of stretch in the right places?  We’d love you to share your thoughts and ideas by clicking the comments button below!

2 thoughts on “Grace and Mercy: Pattern Stitches that Forgive

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