Pattern Conversion…de-mystified

Whether you are a well seasoned knitter or a beginner there are many choices to be made in each project you decide to knit. Deciding on the yarn to the which pattern to knit; deciding on the type of needles to use to the particular gauge to knit; and so on the decisions must be made. When it comes to knitting technique, though, most people resort to their personal favourite. Knitting in the round or knitting pieces flat have many followers. Whether you love or hate either technique there will be a time when you fall head over heels in love with a pattern that is designed for the other side. You might want to consider converting the pattern to your favourite technique. What follows is a simple to guide to accomplishing a conversion.

I’ve often come across a pattern where the designer chose to knit flat and wondered why they made that choice when the project is clearly meant to be knit in the round (or vice versa). I then wonder just how much I really need to knit this project. If I have already fallen in love with the photographic representation of the FO (finished object) then I shall cast on completely ignoring the designers choice and revert to my own (which is knitting in the round, by the way) favourite technique. Before you begin to give that designer a bad rap (complete with colourful language) take a deep breath and read on. Converting a pattern from circular knitting to flat knitting, or vice versa, is not difficult. There is a bit of thought involved, but nothing too taxing.

Many, if not all, patterns can be easily converted between flat/circular knitting. There are few exceptions to the rule (but there are some). The important point here is that when you are knitting flat, you are alternating working on the “right” side and the “wrong” side. When you are knitting in the round, you are only working on the “right” side.

“What does this mean to your knitting strategy? “you might be asking? What this means is that when you begin the conversion process it is necessary to reverse the stitches on every other row. Easy…right? Yes it is.

Here is an example:

Stockinette Stitch (flat knitting):Flat R1: Knit (right side; from now on referred to as RS)
Flat R2: Purl (wrong side; from now on referred to as WS)

Stockinette Stitch (circular knitting):
Circular R1: Knit (right side)

Circular R2: Knit (right side)

Flat: alternating knit and purl rows; Circular: knit rounds (no purling)

Flat: alternating knit and purl rows; Circular: knit rounds (no purling)

Now that you’ve mastered the simplicity of stockinette conversion, let’s move onto something a little more challenging.

Conversion can be a bit challenging when dealing with a more intricate or complicated pattern, like cables. The solution here is to remember that all you are doing is reversing knits and purls on every other row.

Cable (flat knitting):
Flat Rows 1, 5, 9, 13, 17 and 21 (RS): P3, *K8, p3, k8, p3; rep from * to end.

Flat Row 2 and all WS rows: *K3, p8, k3, p8; rep from * to last 3 sts, k3.

Flat Rows 3, 7 and 11: P3, *[4-st RC] twice, p3, k8, p3; rep from * to end.

Flat Rows 15, 19 and 23: P3, *K8, p3, [4-st RC] twice, p3; rep from * to end. Row 24 Rep row 2.

Cable (Circular Knitting)
Circular Rows 1, 5, 9, 13, 17 and 21 (RS): P3, *K8, p3, k8, p3; rep from * to end.

Circular Row 2 and all WS rows: *p3, k8, p3, k8; rep from * to last 3 sts, p3.

Circular Rows 3, 7 and 11: P3, *[4-st RC] twice, p3, k8, p3; rep from * to end.

Circular Rows 15, 19 and 23: P3, *K8, p3, [4-st RC] twice, p3; rep from * to end. Row 24 Rep row 2.

Almost any cable pattern can be converted between flat & circular knitting, save those that have twists or cables on the wrong as well as the right side.

Almost any cable pattern can be converted between flat & circular knitting, save those that have twists or cables on the wrong as well as the right side.

Give both techniques a try with this simple cable stitch. You’ll be amazed at what ends up to be your favourite, flat or circular knitting.

Remember those rules we mentioned earlier? Even though there are exceptions, there are patterns that don’t lend themselves nicely to conversion.

I’ve often found that certain flat knit projects, like an afghan, shouldn’t be knit in the round. This is not to say that knit in the round afghans do not exist for they certainly do. However, knit in the round afghans serve up a good heaping helping of steeking
(you stitch and then you cut apart your knitting so it lays flat). This can be a frightening process to learn. I prefer to stitch my afghans flat thus avoiding the stress and heart palpitations that accompany steeking, or taking a pair of scissors to months of time and effort that went into a piece.
I highly recommend avoiding converting any pattern that has cables or twists on both odd and even rows. These types (ie: intricately cabled sweaters) often are designed in the round or flat for a reason – this is one case where I urge you to trust the designer.
Large or heavy sweaters are often knit flat with the pieces seemed upon completion of each piece. I recommend that you trust the designer here and follow the instructions. Heavy pieces lend themselves nicely to flat knitting as the seaming adds stability and helps the sweater maintain its shape. Let us leave these types of patterns as they are.
You are now ready to go forth and knit your favourite project. Keeping these simple rules and instructions in mind, you are also ready to take your favourite technique and apply it to that special pattern. Whether it is knit in the round or flat and whether you favour knitting in the round or flat knitting your arsenal of knowledge has increased providing you with the tools needed to rework any pattern in your favourite style.

Try something simple at first like a hat or mittens. Soon you will be on your way to converting every pattern you see, and enjoying the freedom that comes with using your favourite style to create those spectacular knitterly items that are converted by your friends and family. You truly are the master of your own design (or technique).

Now go forth and knit and Happy Stitching!

Pattern Conversion…de-mystified.

An awesome post….

About dianelouw

I am a Christian stay at home mom. I may not be perfect, BUT Jesus thinks I'm to die for!!! Shy believe it or not. But once i get to know you - passop! Love to laugh and to mix with people and help people. Some would say - that sometimes its to my detriment. Love spending time with my parents and family. Very inquisitive and have lots of questions regarding the Lord which i constantly ask for help. I love reading, gardening, studying the Word of God, etc. Have discovered Kindle and i got a wish list for a Kindle by my husband lol. Have downloaded some very good classics and others from free. Sites that i belong to: http://www.knittingparadise.com/ look for Diane D http://www.ravelry.com/people/dianedlouw http://pinterest.com/dianedawnlouw/ Some favorite Quotes: Love me for me and not for what you want me to be... Deuteronomy 4:7 "No other nation, no matter how great, has a god who is so near when they need Him as the Lord our God is to us. He answers us whenever we call for help." Phillippians 4:13 - I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice
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4 Responses to Pattern Conversion…de-mystified

  1. Joanne says:

    Love this!! I always knit in the round if I can. Thanks for this post. Now if I can only figure out how to make most of the sweaters without seams!!!

    • bonniezink says:

      Sweaters with out seams are done in the round. It is an easy technique to accomplish. Cardigans, of course, need a front opening and are steeked after the sweater body is knit. Steeking used to boggle my mind! Once I overcame the fear of taking a pair of scissors to my work, steeking quickly became one of my top favourite techniques. I’m not a big fan of seaming.

  2. bonniezink says:

    Thank you, Diane, for re-blogging one of my most popular posts on Stitching in Saskatoon. I knit in the round and flat. Both have their uses. I wrote the post as I thought through how knit some of my favourite stitch patterns in the round and on two needles (flat) knitting.

  3. dianelouw says:

    i too am not a big fan of seaming. I love the top down patterns and will try to convert some as i hate to knit little pieces and then try to sew them together.. Its a great article and look forward to seeing more.

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