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Knitting Stitch Patterns


The Term stitch pattern is often used to refer to

  1. knitting instructions for a pattern
  2. a chart for knitting the pattern
  3. physical realizations of the pattern
  4. the pattern data (i.e. the actual pattern)

Knitting Instructions

The actual knitting instructions depend very much on the technique used to achieve the pattern, and the language used to describe the required actions. Knitting instructions need to be rewritten when using other techniques like round knitting rather than flat knitting, or machine knitting rather than hand knitting. In various languages, more or less commonly used knitting abbreviations have emerged, which adds an other layer of bablification.

Knitting Charts

knitting patterns are often represented in the form of knitting charts. This representation is structure-based rather than action based. Since it does not rely on technical specificities, or cryptic non-standard knitting abbreviations, it is the most universal representation.

Physical Pattern

Depending on various factors, such as yarn type, yarn tension, needle size, and the knitting technique used, a single knitting pattern may serve as the basis for various physical patterns. Since knitting charts usually don't capture the spacial deformations that result from the knitting stitch interaction, knitting instructions are often accompanied by a photo of the physical pattern.

Pattern Data

The pattern data is all information that is specific to the structure of the physical pattern. The pattern does not need a physical instance, but exists in the virtual world of patterns. It's very much like a platonic idea or like computer sourcecode.

Legal Issues

Knitting Instructions and Knitting Charts

Knitting instructions and knitting charts may be subject to copyright law, since they are documents containing graphics and text which are the creative work of a human person.

Even if the instructions or charts were automatically generated from knitting data, the creative work that went into the generative mechanism might justify the extension of copyright claims to the generated instructions and charts. If the generator is distributed as software, these issues should clearly be resolved in the terms of use.

Free Pattern Data

Most patterns reprinted in knitting stitch collections can be considered to be in the public domain. They have been passed on between knitters for generations, and were later caught in the wild and assembled by pattern collectors.

Copyrighted Pattern Data

Pattern data may be subject to copyright and trademark laws. Especially if it represents pictographic content or if is of considerable complexity. The pattern data representing Disney characters, such as Donald Duck or even sprites from video games such as Super Mario Bros are tainted by copyright.

Pattern Usage Restrictions

Some commercial knitting patterns come with a terms-of-use that restrict your ability to create physical instances of the pattern. So if you buy a pattern you agree to only use it in ways the author intended you to. Such license restrictions are often backed by so called DRM technologies in the digital domain. Digital Rights Enforcement has not yet been applied to knitting patterns, but it might be implemented in future generations of knitting machines and knitting CAD software.

Liberating Pattern Data

While some public domain patterns are only available in the form of copyrighted knitting instructions and charts, they can easily be liberated, by extracting the pattern data.

If you create your own knitting chart, or rephrase the knitting instructions in your own words, you own the copyright to the resulting document, and can publish it under a liberal license.

You can also publish the pattern data in a standard knitting stitch format, which should free it from any copyrightable ballast.


Free Patterns

These patterns are either in the public domain, or published under a free culture license.

Gratis Patterns

These patterns are free of charge, but they may not be copyright free. It's save to use them for personal purposes.


A Treasury of Knitting Stitches

A series of stitch pattern books by Barbara G. Walker.

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Vogue Stitchionary

A series of stitch pattern books published by Vogue Magazine.

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wiki/knitting_stitch_pattern.txt · Last modified: 2010/02/23 23:26 by magisterludi
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