All posts for the month November, 2015

How to Translate Patterns

Published November 23, 2015 by estherknit

One summer I went on holiday to the Rhine Valley in Germany. It was a lovely holiday and on my travels I found some wonderful knitting books and magazines. There was only one problem – they were all written in German! Although I picked up a few words of German on holiday and was quite adept at saying “Good morning” and “thanks” by the end of my stay, I must admit the thought of translating a German knitting pattern did seem rather daunting. Unfortunately, the knitting patterns were just too tempting and I came home with some knitting books and magazines.

On the journey home I thought about how I could translate these patterns. I only had to translate the patterns, I didn’t have to speak the language! Then I realised, that knitting patterns aren’t written in English anyway! Knitting is a technical language which is then abbreviated. “Fully fashioned” only means something if you are a knitter and “ff” means even less. So, if you had a translation of all of the knitting terms and abbreviations, then translating the patterns would be a breeze – wouldn’t it?

Well, I was determined to have a go. I studied the patterns and I could see that the layout was similar to English patterns. At the beginning of the patterns, there were instructions such as “50g” and “10 x 10 cm”, Obviously this was how much yarn you would need and the stitches and rows needed for the tension. How many stitches and rows to 10 cm would give me a fair idea of the weight of the yarn; was it double knitting or 4 ply. There were also charts and diagrams which would help.

With a large German dictionary to hand I set about translating a very simple looking pattern for a headband. The European patterns often have less pattern instructions than we are used to, but the greatest difference is that frequently only one size is given, and you are left to work out other sizes for yourself.  The original pattern had a snowflake design, but I wanted my headband to have a ‘snow’ design.

Tension or Gauge

The first thing a knitter needs is the tension, so where was the instructions for the tension square? I looked for the tell-tale “10 x 10 cm” and saw that the pattern said:
24 Maschen
26 Reihen
im Jacquardmuster =
10 x 10 cm
Using the German dictionary and a bit of guess-work I translated the tension instructions as:
24 stitches/26 rows in Fair isle pattern = 10 x 10 cm
You can see that maschenprobe means tension, maschen means stitches and Reihen means rows. I was able to guess that Jacquardmuster means Fair Isle since we sometimes call it Jacquard! So far so good.


The next thing to work out was the size.
Kopfurnfang: ca. 53,5 cm;
Breite: ca. 10 cm
Translated as:
Length: approx: 53.5 cm
Width: approx: 10 cm


Then, I needed to find out what materials I would need.
Das wird gebraucht:
je 50 g Schachenmayr Regia o-fadig
(LL 125 m/50 g),
graublau (Fb 1980)
und natur (Fb 1992)
Stricknadeln Nr. 3 – 4
Translated as:
The things needed:
50 g “Schachenmayr Regia o-fadig” yarn
50 g in blue and 50 g in white
This was a bit more difficult because the yarns and needle sizes are a bit different in Europe, but with a little bit of deep thought I decided that the materials would be:
100g of double knitting yarn
50 g in blue (colour A) and 50 g in white (colour B)
One pair of 4 mm needles.

Substituting the yarn

I’d never heard of the make of yarn but if I wanted to I’m sure I could buy it over the internet. However, if you match the type of yarn (cotton, acrylic, wool, etc.) and the weight of yarn (4 ply, double knitting etc.) you should be able to match the tension.


The Fair Isle pattern was illustrated with a chart. Foreign patterns often have charts and diagrams, and knitters are familiar with these. The charts and diagrams give you a lot of information and you don’t need to know the language to understand what is required.

stars chart 2

Substitute a similar stitch pattern

Of course, I could substitute many other Fair Isle (jacquard) patterns as long as the stitches and rows were the same.  I could even substitute a lace or knit and purl textured pattern instead of the Fair Isle.  The original headband had a snowflake chart but I substituted my own design.

Now the hard work

I must admit translating the pattern was a bit more involved than I at first thought and I got so engrossed I forgot the time. Eventually I had an English version of the pattern. Just one problem – some parts of it didn’t seem to make sense! When you translate using a dictionary you get a literal translation. So, I had a literal translation of the pattern instructions as follows:
The things to be made:
29 stitches in blue cast on and 1 back row left knit. Afterwards over the outer edge every 5 stitches in neckband pattern in blue and over the middle 19 stitches in Fair isle pattern knit. Approximately 53.5 cm (= 140 rows) in Fair isle pattern all gone stitches cast off. The casting on and casting off together.

There was apparently a 1 x 1 rib pattern along the edge of the headband (5 stitches each side) and a Fair isle pattern in the middle (19 stitches). Cast on 29 stitches, and follow the Fair isle chart for 140 rows.  From the translated pattern, I produced my own ‘Snow’ headband.

Headband 5a


Snowboarding is one of the latest crazes. It is also very fashionable to wear the gear even if you don’t go anywhere near the snow!  You might think that this is a lot of bother for a simple little pattern. Couldn’t I just have looked at the picture and guessed what to do! Well, yes maybe I could have, but now I have something I did not have before;  I have a whole load of knitting terms and abbreviations in English and German so it will be easier next time!  When I took another look at my German knitting books and magazines I found that I understood a lot of what was written and translating the next pattern would be easier. I still can’t speak much German and I have no idea what those funny two little dots are above some of the letters but I can’t wait to add all of these lovely patterns to my collection. I thought I might tour Spain next and I’ll be on the look out for more knitting patterns!  For more help with translating your patterns, take a look here

Let me finish with an interesting tale. You’ve all heard the story about Cinderella and know all about her glass slipper and how it only fitted her little foot. Well the original Cinderella had a slipper hand-made in a fine deer skin. However, when the story was translated into English some idiot translated it as a glass slipper. If you think about it for a minute a glass slipper just doesn’t make sense. But the glass slipper idea stuck and the rest is history. I tell you this story just in case I’ve translated something incorrectly and you try to knit a glass slipper!


Free Pattern – Man’s Tie

Published November 20, 2015 by estherknit

Mans Tie 6Measurements

To fit adult

114 cm (45¼ inches) long


Robin Double Knit Print

Shade: 194 Lagoon

50 g for one tie

A pair of 4 mm (US 6) knitting needles

Tension / Gauge

18 sts and 30 rows to 10 cm (4 inches)

measured over garter stitch using 4 mm needles

Pattern notes

For a neater edge, always slip the first stitch of every row.  This pattern can also be used as a knitted belt but you may want to knit it longer.

To knit tie

Using 4 mm (US 6) needles cast on 10 sts loosely.

Continue in garter stitch, every row knit, for 342 rows.

Work measures 114 cm or 45¼ inches.

Cast off loosely

To make up / Finishing

Weave in ends.

Mans Tie 7

Knitting in Stripes

Published November 19, 2015 by estherknit

Knitting in stripes is a great way to use up that stash of yarn and brings colour to your projects.  Here are some stripe patterns for you to try.

Regular Stripes – Sample 1

Regular Stripe Sample 2a

*2 rows in pale pink

14 rows in bright pink

2 rows in lilac

14 rows in bright pink*

Repeat from * to *

Regular Stripes – Sample 2

Regular Stripes Sample 5a

*20 rows dark blue

20 rows cream

20 rows green

20 rows pink

20 rows cream

20 rows pale blue*

Repeat from * to *

Regular Stripes – Sample 3

Regular Stripes Sample 6a

*2 rows in dark pink

2 rows in pale pink

4 rows in dark pink

2 rows in pale pink

2 rows in bright pink

4 rows in pale pink*

Repeat from * to *

Regular Stripes – Sample 4

Regular Stripes Sample 7a

*2 rows in purple

2 rows in lilac

2 rows in purple

2 rows in green

2 rows in purple

2 rows in turquoise*

Repeat from * to *

Fibonacci Stripes – Sample 1

Fibonacci Stripes Sample 3a

*3 rows in pink

5 rows in dark blue

13 rows in blue

5 rows in dark blue

3 rows in pink

13 rows in blue*

Repeat from * to *

Fibonacci Stripes – Sample 2

Fibonacci Stripes Sample 2a

*13 rows in grey

8 rows in forest green

5 rows in black

8 rows in grey

5 rows in forest green

3 rows in black

5 rows in grey*

Repeat from * to *

Fibonacci Stripes – Sample 3

Fibonacci Stripes Sample 3a

*5 rows in yellow

21 rows in green

1 row in yellow

13 rows in green

2 rows in yellow

8 rows in green*

Repeat from * to *

Random Stripes – Sample 1

Random Stripe Sample 1a

*4 rows lilac

5 rows blue-green

3 rows purple

4 rows pink

2 rows lilac

4 rows grey

4 rows light blue

8 rows blue-green

2 rows lilac

2 rows grey

2 rows light blue*

Repeat from * to *

Random Stripes – Sample 2

Random Stripes Sample 2a

*4 rows blue

2 rows pale pink

5 rows lilac

3 rows grey

2 rows dark pink

4 rows pale pink

4 rows blue

2 rows grey*

Repeat from * to *

Random Stripes – Sample 3

Random Stripe Sample 3a

*2 rows dark grey

5 rows light grey

3 rows grey black

4 rows dark blue

4 rows dark grey

4 rows white

4 rows sky blue*

Repeat from * to *

Try these stripe pattern ideas in your projects or work out your own variations.  Work your stripes in stockinette stitch or try a lace or textured pattern.  Stripes are such fun!





Free Pattern – Wash Cloth

Published November 13, 2015 by estherknit

Wash Cloth 6


18 cm wide by 19 cm long

7¼ inches by 7½ inches long


Robin Double Knit Print

Shade: 194 Lagoon

20 g for one washcloth

A pair of 4 mm (US 6) knitting needles

Tension / Gauge

18 sts and 30 rows to 10 cm (4 inches)

measured over garter stitch using 4 mm needles.

Pattern notes

For a neater edge, always slip the first stitch of every row.

This pattern could be used as a blanket for a doll.

To knit washcloth

Using 4 mm(US 6) needles cast on 32 sts loosely.

Continue in garter stitch, every row knit, for 58 rows.

Work measures 19 cm or 7½ inches.

Cast off loosely.

To make up / Finishing

Weave in ends.

Wash Cloth 7

How to Use Stripes

Published November 9, 2015 by estherknit

One of the first ways we learn how to introduce a second colour is by knitting in stripes.  Although simple to knit, how do you decide on the number of rows in each stripe?  You can create a stripe effect on your knitted garment using different techniques.

  • Regular Stripes
  • Magic Stripes
  • Random Stripes
  • Fibonacci Stripes

Regular Stripes

You can always knit your garment in regular stripes.  This is not as interesting as a Fibonacci or a random stripe pattern but it can produce a pleasing result.  Simply decide on how many rows for each stripe.

Striped Hat

Baby hat in regular stripes

For example, you could knit 2 row stripes, 4 rows stripes or even 10 row stripes.  You can knit in stockinette stitch or any pattern you wish.  If you knit an odd number of rows then your yarn will be at the wrong side of your work and you will not be able to carry the yarn up the work.

Magic Stripes

You can create a stripe effect using special random dyed yarns.  As you knit the yarn creates stripes without you having to change your yarn.

Striped Poncho

Poncho in magic stripes

These yarns create stripes and jacquard effects and add interest to your knitted project.

Random Stripes

Another interesting way to add colour to your garment is to use a random number generator and knit random stripes.

Striped Tank Top

Tank top in random stripes

To do this successfully you have to have an eye for colour and like surprises!  However, it is a fun way to use up odd balls of yarn from your stash.

Fibonacci Stripes

You can create an interesting striped fabric by using a simple mathematical formula.  It is just a simple sequence of numbers known as the Fibonacci series, devised way back in 1202.  The Fibonacci sequence is the basis for the golden ratio – a pattern of numbers that occurs naturally in nature and is aesthetically pleasing to the eye. The numbers give perfect proportion and will produce interesting stripes.

Look at these numbers to see how the series works.

0 + 1    =    1

1 + 1    =    2

1 + 2    =    3

2 + 3    =    5

3 + 5    =    8

5 + 8    =   13

8 + 13  =   21

Can you see the sequence?  0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89,  and so on.  So, each number in this series equals the sum of the two previous numbers.  For example, 2 plus 3 equals 5, and 3 plus 5 equals 8.  These numbers are called the Fibonacci series.

Fibonacci 1b

So, how will this help your stripes?  Well, these numbers could be measurements in centimetres or inches or indeed rows themselves.  You might not want to knit with an odd number of rows and so add an 0 to the row numbers:  So you would have – 10, 20, 30, 50, 80 rows – and so on.  Use these numbers for stripe sequences, with or without the 0 added, and the sizes of the stripes will look in proportion, so no more trial and error.  You could also knit an increasing Fibonacci sequence in Colour A, with a decreasing Fibonacci sequence in Colour B.

Striped Wrist Warmers

Wrist warmers in Fibonacci stripes

With the help of these Fibonacci numbers your stripes can become a lot more interesting and lively than those you use to knit.   So, next time you have stripes to knit, remember these numbers and have fun juggling them around, then you will be knitting stripes with a difference.

Stripes with Pattern

The simplest stripes are knitted in stockinette stitch.

Striped Blanket

Blanket with stripes and pattern

However, why not try a pattern such as lace, garter stitch, a knit and purl texture, or a rib with your stripe sequence.  Your stripes will never be boring again!

Free Pattern – Poncho for Doll

Published November 8, 2015 by estherknit

Poncho for Doll 6


To fit doll height: 46 cm (18 inches)


Robin Double Knit Print

Shade: 189 Carnival

50 g for one poncho

A pair of 4 mm (US 6) knitting needles

A set of buttons for embellishment

Tension / Gauge

18 sts and 30 rows to 10 cm (4 inches)

measured over garter stitch using 4 mm needles

To knit poncho

(knit 2)

Using 4 mm (US 6) needles cast on 30 sts loosely.

Continue in garter stitch, every row knit, for 96 rows.

Work measures 32 cm or 12¾ inches.

Cast off loosely.

To make up / Finishing

Join the two pieces together as follows. Place cast off row on first knitted piece against the longer right side of the second knitted piece; from bottom of cast on row and up 16 cm or 6¼ inches.  Sew the two parts together neatly using a whip stitch. Sew together cast off row on the second knitted piece to the first knitted piece in the same way, but to the longer left side. Whip stitch around the edge.  Add buttons to front.

Poncho for Doll 7

How to knit for Babies

Published November 2, 2015 by estherknit

Ideas and Suggestions!

Premie Baby Hats

Knitting is a pastime which dates back at least 2000 years and despite its’ lack of television coverage it is the second most popular hobby. Baby knitted garments are found in the trendiest of designer shops with prices to match.  It is much more rewarding to knit it for yourself.

Traditionally, a new baby in the family leads to a knitting frenzy. Babies seem to bring out the maternal instinct in all of us. Baby garments are most often knitted in soft 3 and 4 ply acrylic yarns in pastel shades with the most popular colour being white! Babies are wrapped in soft lacy blankets and amused with knitted toys. Most of all babies show how much love we all have for our family and friends.

Hand or Machine?

Machine knitting is associated with speed of production and exciting techniques. Hand knitted babies garments on the other hand are knitted quickly and cheaply. So, why would you bother to knit for babies using your machine? Well, there are many reasons. Now that knitting is no longer a compulsory subject on the national curriculum, the younger generation are growing up not knowing how to knit by hand. Learning to knit by hand is a long and difficult process. However, if you get yourself a good basic knitting machine or a knitting loom, some good books and a video or two you can be knitting your first scarf or baby blanket within the hour! It is also true that most shop-bought baby knits have been knitted by machine in a factory and these garments can be reproduced at home on your machine at a fraction of the cost.  However, many hand knitted baby garments become family heirlooms – so the choice is yours.

What to knit for baby?

The first thing you probably want to knit is a baby blanket. You can knit it in plain stockinette (stocking) stitch or find an interesting stitch pattern. Baby blankets come in all sizes, a small blanket to put over your lap to protect your clothes or to put on the floor to protect the carpet, a larger blanket for a pram and the biggest size for a cot.

Knit a Hat!

The next most useful thing to knit is a baby hat. Babies do not find it easy to regulate their temperature and they can lose a lot of heat from their heads. We have all seen the hospital programmes on the television showing the tiniest of babies with beautifully knitted hats. Many of the adult hat patterns can be sized down to suit baby.

What about tension?

 All knitters know the importance of tension. As if to tell us what we know already, all good patterns will have notes about tension, and emphasis the need to work to the correct size. Before embarking on any project, you dutifully knit your tension swatch and measures stitches and rows. If you have too many stitches and rows your knitting is too tight and too few means your knitting is too loose. To add to this, every yarn will have its’ ideal knitted tension, so all 4 plys will not necessarily be knitted to the same tension.


At the hospital you will see that newborn babies come in all shapes and sizes. Even two babies with the same birth weight can look very different. One might be long and thin and the other short and plump. So, since babies come in all shapes and sizes, tension and sizing are usually not too important when knitting baby things. The usual adage is to knit a bigger size and baby will grow into it! Whatever size it comes out it will probably find an appreciative baby somewhere!


However, it is possible to visit the maternity ward with measuring tape in hand, measure the baby, run home, do your tension swatch, knit the garments and return the next day with a made to measure outfit! I remember getting my rather small baby son weighed by the midwife and she was impressed that his outfit fitted so well. He had a 12 inch chest at the time!

Techniques for baby knitting

When knitting baby garments makes sure that the finished garments will be easy to put on. One method is to knit eyelet holes and thread a knitted cord or ribbon through the holes. This method can be used at the neck, the cuff or the ankle. Another method is to have an opening with buttons. So, on a sweater you might have the button opening along the shoulder seam or down the centre back so that the sweater can go over the baby’s head.

Designing baby garments

 Babies are very precious. So, before you start your knitting project you should think carefully about certain things. Your yarn should be smooth and soft for a new baby’s delicate skin and should offer protection from the summer sun and the winter chills. You can use soft acrylics, which come in lots of baby colours and wash well.  However, if you want your baby garment to be extra special why not try some natural yarns such as merino wool, fine cottons, cashmere, and silk. Natural fibres are good at absorbing moisture and allow the body to breathe, so they will be like a second skin for a precious baby. Remember you need very little yarn to create baby garments and knitted in these expensive yarns the baby garments will be heirlooms for future generations.

Dressing a Baby!

The garments should also take into consideration how difficult it is to dress a tiny baby. Keep buttons and fastenings to the minimum. Necklines should be big enough so the baby’s head slips easily into the garment. You may even like to try using small pieces of Velcro! Take care when making your garments and applying trims. Nothing you do must put baby in danger in any way. Small babies have tiny fingers that must not get caught up on fastening, or trims. They also have a tendency to try to eat everything!


Baby garments are so small you may spend almost as much time (or even more time) finishing off the garment than knitting it. However, the finish on a baby garment is what changes it from ‘just another bit of knitting” to a treasured possession. Baby blankets usually need to be blocked and pressed in the usual way to avoid curled edges and to set the stitches. However, using a steam iron on a tiny garment may ruin it. Pin out the pieces on your block in the usual way, and stretch to the correct size. However, leave your iron in the cupboard for a bit! Fill a spray bottle with water and simply spray the knitting with water, making sure that the edges of each piece are damp. Cover with a cloth and leave the knitting overnight to dry. You might find that there is no need to steam as the small knitted pieces will probably be nicely “set”.  If you do have to steam the knitting take great care.


Baby garments look best with embellishments such as ribbons, bows, buttons, braids, lace, and other trimmings. A beautiful baby garment can be spoilt by adding cheap buttons. You could start a “trims box” and fill it with ribbons, baby buttons, and other trimmings. You can add trimmings as you find them in the shops, at the sales, or you can remove interesting trimmings and buttons from discarded garments. A tiny piece of interesting trim can really set off a plain little cardigan or sweater. Trims should be sewn on with care and attention to detail.

Knitting in a busy life

We all have busy lives with much to do and seemingly little time to do it – so plan ahead with your knitting. Get yourself a project folder and put all of your favourite patterns in the folder for inspiration. Then find yourself a project bag which you can take on your travels. Baby garments are small enough to take with you and you can be knitting or finishing off whilst you wait for the kids to come out of school or whilst having coffee with a friend. Your project bag will keep the work clean, and in your bag you can keep your sewing up kit and your favourite knitting tools.

A gift for baby!

If you are knitting for a friend, remember presentation is important. Find a way to wrap the gift to reflect the care, attention, and time you gave to creating it. A good approach is to find a suitable sized box. The shops are full of cardboard storage boxes in all sizes and some come in the prettiest of colours. If you don’t want to buy a box find a packaging box (such as a shoe box) and cover it with interesting wrapping paper or wall paper. Line the box with tissue paper to compliment the colour of your knitted garments. Lay your precious knitted garments into your baby box and add a small toy or rattle. Tie up the box with baby ribbon. Your friend or relative not only has lovely knitted garments for their new baby but also a box to keep baby’s things in. Another idea is to knit a baby bag and fill it with baby knits. The bag can be any size from a small toy bag to a changing bag.

Boat Hat

Most of all your friends and relatives will know you are a kind, loving and creative person!