Knitty: little purls of wisdom

A Motive for Motif

beauty shot

Are you hooked on grannies yet? We love them because they're small, and quick, and portable. You can make dozens and stuff them somewhere for a rainy day when you can join them into an endless variety of projects. But while it's very hip at the moment to be square, grannies are only the beginning when it comes to motifs. A motif is any small knitted or crocheted shape that's created to be used in some larger project. Lucky for us, crocheted and knitted motifs play quite well together.

As we discussed in the last issue, a granny "square" is actually a motif crocheted in the round. Its squareness is created by having four even sets of increases. Using the same concept, you can create geometric shapes with any number of sides, just as long as you "stack" the increases evenly--that is, place all the increases on top of one another creating clear corners.

Our project this time, the beautiful Apiculturist Scarf, designed by Miriam, combines both knitted and crocheted hexagons: six-sided motifs. Both the knitted and crocheted "hexes" are worked from the center out so they can be joined evenly.

There are several ways that motifs can be joined together. We're going to cover a couple of basic ones: a slip stitch join, a zig-zag chain join (that's the technique Miriam used to join the motifs in the scarf), and joining as you go.

Slip Stitch Join
Slip stitching fabric together can be done on either the right side or the wrong side giving you different looks to your seam. In this example, we'll join right sides together with the wrong sides facing out. We're going to join two granny squares, but the same technique can be used to join any two pieces of knitted or crocheted fabric.

Using a hook the same size you used in your project (or if you're joining two pieces of knitting use a hook similar in size to your knitting needles), insert the hook through both motifs at one corner. .
Yarnover and pull up a loop .
Pull the new loop through the second loop on your hook. Continue to slip stitch loosely along the edge of the fabric. .

Often, when joining squares, you'll make strips of squares first and then slip stitch the strips (or columns) together to make a larger project. You can also seam with a single crochet instead of a slip stitch. It gives you a much more prominent ridge where the two pieces join which adds an interesting design element, and a little more stretch to the join.

Zig Zag Chain Join
This join is ideal for creating projects that need drape. It's also great for maintaining an open-work look. If your motifs are lacy, this join will keep you from having solid, firm seams.

Hold your motifs wrong side together. The motif closest to your body will be the Front Motif, the other will be the Back Motif.

Here's how we joined the hexes for the Apiculturist Scarf:

Make a slip knot on your hook, and sl st in the corner stitch of the Front Motif. .
ch 2, sl st in the corner stitch of the Back Motif. .
ch 2, skip 1 st on the Front Motif and sl st in the 2nd st, .
(ch2, skip 3 sts on the Back Motif and sl st in the 4th. .
(ch 2, skip 3 sts on the Front Motif and sl st in the 4th) 3 times, .
ch 2, sl st in the corner stitch of the Back Motif. Fasten Off. .

You can vary both the length of the chain between the pieces and the number of stitches between each jump of the zig zag to give you more or less open look.

Join As You Go
We love this way of joining motifs because your project is finished when you make the last motif. As we mentioned last time, it behooves you to weave in your ends as you go too, or you'll have a gazillion of them left when you feel like you should be all done.

To join as you go, you'll need one completed four-round granny square. Make a second square and finish the 3nd round.

Begin round four for the second granny square by joining the yarn color for the last round, and chain 3, work 2 dc creating the first half of the first corner. Ch 1. .
Pick up the completed granny and insert the hook into one of the corners, wrap the yarn around the hook and pull back through the corner and the loop on the hook slip stitch joining the two corners together, ch1. .
Work 3 more dc into the space on the square-in-progress completing the first corner. .
(Ch 1, insert the hook into the next chain space on the completed granny square and slip stitch to join... .

...3 dc into the next ch sp of the square-in-progress) across the side of the granny square until you reach the corner chain spaces...

  . 3 dc into the next corner space, ch 1, insert the hook into the opposite corner on the completed granny and slip stitch to join, complete the rest of the square normally.

Variegated Behavior
Have you ever grabbed a multicolored skein of yarn because you couldn't resist the combination of colors and been unpleasantly surprised by how they line up or "pool" once you put them into a pattern? Variegated yarns have very different effects when they are used in solid fabrics (like our knitted motif) and lacy fabrics (like our crocheted motif). Crochet also uses more yarn per stitch, and each double crochet can be quite tall meaning that the colors will just line up differently than if the fabric is created in knitted rows. In the Apiculturist Scarf, Miriam created both crocheted and knitted motifs in two variegated yarns (one semi-solid, and one more vivid) so it's a great opportunity to see the different ways that the colors can arrange themselves.


With knitting, the color runs follow the line of the rounds (in this case they swirl around the center). But with the crocheted motif we get segments of color that look much more speckled. This happens because of the way crochet stitches use yarn. The different heights of crochet stitches also help to break up variegation patterns.

Is your yarn in a twist?
You've probably noticed that yarns come in various numbers of plys and that they can be plied (or twisted) to varying degrees giving the yarn more bounce or drape. For the most part, though, the commercial yarns are plied into what is called an "S-Twist." S Twist means that the finished yarn is plied clockwise. It's called "S" because of the way the fibers lean, like this: \ it looks like the center line of an S. Z-twist yarns lean the opposite way, like this: /.

When you work knit stitches, you are reinforcing the S-twist because the action of creating stitches keeps that clockwise motion going. When you crochet a stitch, you are effectively un-twisting an S-twist yarn yarn putting a counter twist in the fiber when you make the stitches. Most of the time, the effect will be so subtle that you won't notice, but some loosely spun yarns can get un-twisty especially if you have to rip and rework a few times.

What can you do? Designer Doris Chan has cleverly discovered that pulling from the top or the bottom of a yarn ball can twist the yarn clockwise or counter clockwise. Look at the ball and see how it was wound. If you're crocheting an S-Twist yarn, pull from the clockwise end of the ball to help counteract the untwisting of the stitches.

pink needle

beauty shotblank

by Miriam Felton


a·pi·cul·ture: noun
The raising and care of bees for commercial or agricultural purposes.

Miriam dreams of owning some land, raising vegetables, chickens, and bees. She pours over books of chicken breeds and heirloom seed catalogs dreaming of the day she can build her little self-sufficient farm. And what farm would be complete without bees to pollinate the crops and make delectable honey. The hexagonal motifs in this piece are reminiscent of honeycombs.

These hexagons can be arranged in a multitude of ways! Don't feel limited by the diagram or the scarf shape if you get a creative urge to do something different!

The wonderful thing about motifs is that once you've made a bunch you can lay them out and play around with what you want to make. For this project we made a scarf, but you could easily add another column or two of motifs and make a wrap, or use this layout and make a triangular shawl. You could make a lot of motifs and end up with a blanket too!

spacer model: Miranda Natividad
spacer photos: Miriam Felton


Each hexagonal motif measures 5 ins in diameter measured from flat side to flat side (not point to point).
The scarf measures 66 ins wide x 10 ins long



Miss Babs Yowza [100% superwash Merino wool; 560yds per 8oz/227g skein]
Note: Each knitted motif requires 11 grams and each crocheted motif requires 10 grams.

spacer [MC] Tulipa, 1 skein
spacer [CC] Bubblicious, 1 skein

Recommended needle size
[always use a needle size that gives you the gauge listed below -- every knitter's gauge is unique]
spacer H-8/5mm crochet hook
spacer US #6/4mm needles for working in the round

spacer Yarn needle



24 sts/32 rounds = 4 inches in stockinette stitch
12 dc = 2 inches

[Knitty's list of standard abbreviations and techniques can be found here.]

Chain: ch
Single Crochet: sc
Double Crochet: dc
Shell: 3 dc in space or stitch indicated
Chain Space (ch-sp): the space underneath chains indicated from the row below.
Sc inc: 2 sc in the same stitch

You can find hexagonal graph paper for plotting your design layout before making all the motifs here.

Adjust your hook or needle size so that both knit and crochet motifs block to the same size (your knit motifs will probably have a larger difference after blocking than the crochet motifs, but both will benefit from a good soaked blocking).

Disappearing Loop method for a circular start: Instructions can be found here.

Here's an alternate layout if you wish to have a triangular shawl instead. You would need 40 motifs to work the triangular shawl layout as shown. How you divide up these 40 into knit and crochet is up to you. If you want a more open shawl, work more crochet motifs. If you want a more solid shawl, work more knit motifs. The finished shawl in the layout below would be about 78" across the wingspan.


Crochet Motif:
For Scarf, make 7 in MC and 4 in CC.

Round 1: Ch2, 6sc in first chain, sl st in first sc of rnd.

Round 2: Ch1, sc, (sc inc) 5 times, sl st in first sc of rnd.

Round 3: Ch2, dc, (ch2, 2dc) 5 times, ch2, sl st in first st of round to finish rnd.

Round 4: Ch2, dc, [(2dc, ch2, 2dc) in next ch sp, 2 dc] 5 times, (2dc, ch2, 2dc in next ch sp), sl st in first st of round to finish rnd.

Round 5: Ch1, sc [(shell, ch2, shell) in next ch sp, sc between the third and fourth dc of previous rnd] 5 times, (shell, ch2, shell) in next ch sp, sl st to finish rnd.

Round 6: Ch6, (3sc in corner ch sp, ch4, dc in sc of previous rnd, ch4) 5 times, 3 sc in corner ch sp, ch4, sl st to finish rnd.

Round 7: Ch2, (4dc in next ch sp, dc in next sc, shell in corner stitch, dc in next sc, 4dc in next ch sp, dc) 5 times, 4dc in next ch sp, dc in next sc, shell in corner stitch, dc in next sc, 4dc in next ch sp, sl st to finish rnd.

Fasten off. Weave in ends.

Knit Motif:
For Scarf, make 7 in MC and 4 in CC.

Cast on 6 sts using the disappearing loop method; distribute sts across needles as you prefer and join for working in the round.

Note: the single knit stitch between the two increases is the "corner stitch", as identified in the joining instructions.

Round 1: Kfb 6 times. 12 sts.
Round 2: Knit
Round 3: (K1, m1L, k1, m1R) 6 times. 24 sts.
Rounds 4-5: Knit
Round 6: (K1, m1L, k3, m1R) 6 times. 36 sts.
Rounds 7-8: Knit
Round 9: (K1, m1L, k5, m1R) 6 times. 48 sts.
Rounds 10-11: Knit
Round 12: (K1, m1L, k5, m1R) 6 times. 60 sts.
Rounds 13-14: Knit
Round 15: (K1, m1L, k7, m1R) 6 times. 72 sts.
Rounds 16-17: Knit
Round 18: (K1, m1L, k9, m1R) 6 times. 84 sts.
Rounds 19-20: Knit
Round 21: (K1, m1L, k11, m1R) 6 times. 96 sts.
Round 22: Purl.
Round 23: Knit.

BO purlwise.


Block all motifs. Weave in ends.

If you are making the scarf as shown, use the diagram above to layout the motifs.

After you lay out your motifs, join them in columns as follows:
Sandwich two adjoining motifs with wrong sides together. The motif closest to your body will be the Front Motif, the other will be the Back Motif.

Make a slip knot on your hook, and sl st in the corner stitch of the Front Motif. Ch2, sl st in the corner stitch of the Back Motif. Ch2, skip 1 st on the Front Motif and sl st in the 2nd st, (ch2, skip 3 sts on the Back Motif and sl st in the 4th. ch2, skip 3 sts on the Front Motif and sl st in the 4th) 3 times, ch2, sl st in the corner stitch of the Back Motif. Fasten off.

Join all motifs in each column, then join the columns together in the same way.

You can block again if desired, or you can just spray the joins with water and stretch them out a bit so they relax. Weave in ends from the joining.

.Blank Miriam can be found on on the web at, and on Twitter @mimknits. Amy O'Neill Houck blogs at and tweets @plainsight.

Amy and Miriam both have patterns on