Tag Archives: symmetry

Backwards and Forwards – a guest post by Kate Atherley

I need to make a confession: when I chatted to Hannah for my Stitchmastery user interview, she asked me an important question. She asked if there were any features I’d like to see in future versions of Stitchmastery, anything I wished it could do.

I replied in an instant: mirroring! A long time ago, I used another charting tool, and it had this brilliant feature that allowed you to make a selection, and it would automatically mirror the thing… you could build the increases for the right-hand side of triangular shawl, for example, and it would automatically create the left-hand side… Hannah was very gentle and polite when she informed me that Stitchmastery *does* do it, or at least something close to it. And brilliantly, at that!

Under the assumption that if I hadn’t noticed the feature, others may not have either, we thought perhaps I should tell you about it.

I design a lot of things that have shaping in them: I’ve been doing a lot of triangular shawls and mitten thumb gussets lately. My favourite top-down shawl construction has two sections of increases. The first thing I do when starting to design a shawl like this is to create a blank template for the shape, into which I can drop stitch patterns to play with placement and alignment.

The flip tool makes this very easy.

Here’s a basic shawl shape, the right side.

Knitting chart
Highlight those columns, and use the “Insert Copied Columns” feature to create a copy and paste it to the left. And then highlight those columns again, and use the “Flip Selection Vertically” button, as outlined in this screencap.

Screengrab of Stitchmastery showing some columns highlighted and one of the icons circled in red
A handy tip pops up when you hover over with your mouse, to confirm it’s the correct button – the vertical option will flip the selection on the vertical axis, and the horizontal option flips on the horizontal axis (so it ends up upside-down).

And hey presto! Perfect!

Knitting chart - a symmetrical triangle
But it’s not just for the straightforward stuff: mirroring is also clever enough to reverse stitches. If my shawl uses closed increases, M1R and M1L, those get automatically reversed.
Knitting chart - two half triangles with increases pointing to the right
Knitting chart - symmetrical triangle with right and left pointing increases on opposite sides
So clever!

The key to this magic is that each stitch has a “mirror” setting. If you’ve defined a custom stitch, or looked at the Stitch Library, you might have noticed it. This is the stitch that will be substituted if you invoke the vertical flip feature. If you’re creating a custom stitch, make sure you set it appropriately.

Screengrab showing a table of stitch descriptions and their mirror options

This feature can be very helpful when designing, and playing with stitch patterns.

I recently worked on a shawl with a complicated lacy pattern motif. I wanted the motif to fill the fabric, all the way out to the edges – “taking the shaping into pattern”, as you might say. I worked out how it would be at the start of the rows, and then let vertical mirroring figure out how it would fit into the ends of the rows. This helps me in two ways: saves me time, and provides a double-check of my work. If something doesn’t seem right with the mirror, then chances are it’s not correct the right way around.

For example, this is a favourite pattern of mine, from Barbara Walker’s First Treasury, the Diamond Mesh. The basic repeat is pretty complicated.

A heavily patterned knitting chart
I’ve created the pattern in the shaping on the right-hand side, and I do the two-step copy-and-flip to see what I get.

A heavily patterned knitting chart
It’s not perfect – you can see that columns 35 & 36 have overlapping/duplicated decreases, but that’s easily sorted out. All you need to do is delete column 35. (And when I say “easily”, you’ll recognise it because by the time you’ve worked out the shaping on the right-hand side of the pattern, you’ll be familiar with how it goes.)

A heavily patterned knitting chart

There’s also a horizontal flipping feature. It doesn’t make stitch substitutions in the same way, so it’s perhaps not as useful for shaping, but it’s fantastic for colourwork. After all, most traditional Fair Isle patterns are horizontally and vertically symmetrical so they are easy to remember… So you can use both directions of mirroring to help.

Look at this delicious pattern! I found it in an Alice Starmore pattern, and it looks like it would be complicated to code up into Stitchmastery…

A knitting chart with a flower motif

But it’s not. Look at the central spines I’ve highlighted in blue. The pattern is vertically and horizontally symmetrical around those spines, so I can build the full pattern by just coding up a quarter of it, like this:

A knitting chart with grey stitches in one corner
When I’m doing this, I need to create all of stitches 1-17, and rows 1 to 9, to make sure the spines are included. They don’t get copied.

I’ve boxed up the first quadrant here in red, so you can see what I’m copying – stitches 2 to 16, and rows 1 – 8.
As before, I copy the stitches.


And then I flip them!

And it works exactly the same way to create the top half of the chart!

The key to making this work for creating stitch patterns is to understand where there are symmetries, where the reflections are. If they are there, then it’s a fantastic way to significantly speed up chart creation, and to ensure that your charts are error-free.

Three cheers for Cathy for making this feature happen!

Further resources:

Weekly tip video on using the flip tools: https://youtu.be/WPG7ardh3Os
Weekly tip video on irregular charts and hiding no stitches: https://youtu.be/PXYvbIM4P2k
Weekly tip video on using Insert Copied Columns and the flip tools: https://youtu.be/2YvQ7kBxU8c