Designing with Texture

We’ve taken a look at how to choose colors for your work, but what if you just want a solid color with a design in it?

The good news is there are TONS of books with THOUSANDS of stitches that you can dig through to get some AMAZING ideas. The bad news is that you still have to be the one to figure out how to make that work for what you’re doing, and sometimes picking from SO many stitches can be overwhelming.

So, what to do?

How about following these easy steps to help you decided which kind of stitch to pick:

First: Are You Knitting or Crocheting?

Knowing which art you’re working with will help you to narrow down the choices. You can’t Astrakhan on knitting needles and you can’t use purl texturing with a crochet hook.

I do have to say about this step, that I have sometimes looked at this and said, “I really want to crochet” then found some REALLY COOL knitting stitch and changed my mind. This is NOT a locked-in-neve-can-change-end-of-the-world choice. It’s a guideline, to help you get started….like the pirates code in Disney movies.

Second: What Are You Making (And Who Are You Making it For)?

This is the step that will really narrow it down. Don’t get me wrong, you can make any stitch into anything, but there are somethings that work

better than others. For example The Astrakhan stitch mentioned above would make a really cool bath rug, but maybe not such a great baby blanket.



Not because the stitch CAN’T be usedthat way, but because you have to consider that baby will probably wrap their hands and fingers into the stitching and could easily twist the work around their hand and get stuck. ESPECIALLY when it comes to kids items, please, think safety first.

If you’re making something for a child or infant, look for stitches that don’t have a ton of holes  or stitches with regular, structured holes (like crocodile stitch) that are less likely for the child to get snagged on or caught in. The older the child, the less this is an issue, so keep in mind how old and able the child is that you’re making the item for. When in doubt, solid stitching is best.

round-3-grannyIf you’re making clothing of any kind, be aware of areas that you want to be covered.  It’s all well and good to make that “super simple shells dress” to wear to a summer function but if you end up with your ta-ta’s showing through the shells it’s not going to be a good thing. The same thing goes for shorts or pants or anything really. I know there was a bit of a fad going around to have granny square shorts for guys, and gentlemen, I am going to tell you now: if you want to make and wear something like that you will probably want to either put something on underneath or stitch in a modesty panel. EVERYONE can see through the holes.

Now, as a form of disclaimer, I will say that I am a very modest person when it comes to being covered. If you aren’t, take to heart what I’ve said so you have it in mind when working for others, but stitch what makes you happy and comfortable.

Italic Nesting basket 9.5 inch bath towels1

The last thing I’ll address here is “housewares.” Blankets (for adults or common areas), rugs, towels, baskets, anything you’ll use around the house for all comers. All of these things (along with things like purses, headbands, wrist/leg warmers etc) are really very cool because they’re sort of anything goes. Still be aware of the place they will be used (I have cats and you can’t put ANYTHING ruffly in their space or it WILL get ruined) and who will be using it (mom might like that 70’s granny stitch, but husband might prefer a more masculine pinwheel or basket weave). Other than that, just remember what Ms. Frizzle said “take chances, make mistakes, and GET MESSY!”

Third: How does it fit into your design?

Since we know what we’re stitching and how we’re stitching it, all that’s left is how to USE that stitch in the pattern we’re making. Crocodile stitch may be REALLY cool, but if you’re trying to make a skirt or shirt for work or nice occasions, it may not REALLY be the best choice (not that it CAN’T work, just be mindful of your dress code/situation).

pink-dressThink about these things when choosing a stitch for your design:

  • Where do I think this item will be used most?
  • Is this item going to be used for a specific occasion or is it multipurpose?
  • Will the stitch I want to use cover what needs to be covered (see the second step for more on this one)?
  • Will the stitch I use snag or catch? Is it safe for my purpose (see the first step for more on this one)?
  • Is this stitch appropriate for the person who will be wearing/using this item?
  • Is this stitch worth the time/effort needed to make my item?


Thinking about these things in advance won’t stop ALL disasters, but will certainly help to guide you as you go through the designing process. It will be REALLY helpful if you are able to draw out your pattern on paper or on a digital program to see what the stitch might look like in your pattern. Even if that means just making some curly lines or cross hatching marks to indicate changes, it may help you to see what “too much” or “not enough” looks like.


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