# melvillehorizontal

,
drawing 1-1 vertical, diagonal, and curved lines mean
what
what horizontal, vertical, diagonal, and curved lines mean

rows
rows

stitches
stitches

Understanding Vertical, Horizontal,
Diagonal, and Curved Lines
When developing a new skill, it’s helpful to break it down
to its components. So here’s the simplest expression of
what you need to know for pattern drafting: everything
must be expressed in terms of stitches and rows.
What that means is that when knitting a garment in
the traditional manner (up from the hem),
• a horizontal measurement becomes the number of
stitches
• a vertical measurement becomes the number of
rows
melville drawing 1-1

what horizontal, vertical, diagonal, and curved lines mean
melville drawing 1-1

what horizontal, vertical, diagonal, and curved lines mean

rows

stitches
stitches

rows

rows

rows

It would be wonderful if horizontals and verticals
rows
rows
were all we ever drafted, but in the shapes we want to
execute, there are also diagonals and curves.
So how dostitches
we produce a diagonal? Remember,
stitches
everything must
stitches and
stitches
stitchesbe expressed in terms of
rows.
• Never measure a diagonal. Instead, draw
perpendiculars: the horizontal measurement
becomes the number of stitches; the vertical
measurement becomes the number of rows.
Then you will do the math—­as directed in the
pattern drafting that follows. The result of those
calculations might mean increases, decreases,
short rows, casting on, or binding off. But what
makes it a diagonal is that this is all worked as
evenly as possible. (The drawing of the diagonal
suggests evenly worked decreases.)

14

PREPARING TO DRAFT

Melv_9780307965578_4p_01_r2.indd 14-15

How to Copy an Existing Garment
rows
rows

stitches
stitches

rows
rows

stitches
stitches

And how do we produce a curve? Remember,
everything must be expressed in terms of stitches and
rows.
• Never measure a curve. Instead, draw
perpendiculars: the horizontal measurement
becomes the number of stitches; the vertical
measurement becomes the number of rows. Then
you will do the math—­as directed in the pattern
drafting that follows. But for now, you might
appreciate that the difference between a curve and
a diagonal is the rate at which you do the work: with
a diagonal, the work is done at an even rate; with
a curve, it is done at an uneven rate. (The drawing
above right suggests bind-­offs—­7 stitches once,
3 stitches once, 2 stitches once, 1 stitch three
times—­followed with some rows worked straight.
Note that you can only bind off at the beginnings
of rows, so there is a visible “stair step” between
these bind-­offs.)
Since curves are more difficult than diagonals (to
conceive, to draft, to execute, to seam, and to pick up
and knit against), we don’t want to use them unless
we have to. The good news is that knitting is flexible
enough that the much-­easier diagonal can often be
used instead. This is especially good news for the
set-­in sleeve (page 43). In fact, there are only two
places in knitting where I think curves are necessary:
the round neck, and any kind of shirttail. Otherwise, I
use diagonals.

A wonderful place to start pattern drafting is to copy a garment you love. The first step is to
measure all its horizontals and verticals. By doing this, you will gain lots of useful information to
help you draft a garment of the same shape and style. But here are some words of caution.
• Lay

the garment flat, eliminating any wrinkles
• When measuring the width (from side seam to
side seam), don’t assume the front and back are
the same without checking.
• Measure all lengths and widths as you imagine
they were knit, not how they might have
stretched out. (This is particularly important with
respect to the neck.)
• Measure pieces without including finishing.
So when measuring the neck depth and
width, don’t include the neck band. And when
measuring finished length, don’t include the
neck band.
• When measuring the armhole depth, be careful
with
the flat “shelf” at the underarm, because
melville drawing 1-2

it often droops with wear. This shelf occurs in
the modified drop shoulder, the set-­in sleeve,
and the raglan. Measure your armhole depth
with that shelf perpendicular to the side
seam. (Otherwise, you will assume a larger
armhole depth, and this is an area where small
measurements have great impact.)
• Often we plan to duplicate all the stylistic
elements of a garment we like but in a yarn that
is heavier than the original. (Most hand-­knitting
yarns are heavier than most commercially knit
garments.) So once you have chosen your yarn,
you will want to check the ease suggestions on
width to the garment and a little more depth to

how to copy an existing garment

neck width does not include neck band
neck
depth
does
not
include
neck
band

armhole
depth

measure
armhole
depth
with this shelf
perpendicular
to side
seam

finished
length
does
not
include
neck
band

make sure front and back are the same width

PREPARING TO DRAFT

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1/3/13 11:21 AM