Drafting Original Patterns

How To Change A Pattern Diagram Into A Knit Contour Pattern

Many machine knitting books, as well as hand knitting magazines now include an outline drawing of all pattern sections in the garment. This gives the person who uses the Knit Contour almost unlimited pattern selection, since once the Knit Contour pattern is drawn, any yarn and gauge may be used. A favorite style no longer needs to be re-drafted each time there is a change in the yarn used. The purpose of this lesson is to show the knitter how to draw these diagrams on Knit Contour paper.


Tools and Materials Required
Blank Knit Contour paper, Studio’s triangle half-scale ruler, a calculator, pen, pencil and eraser, and several sheets of legal or ledger sized copier paper for trying out pattern drafting before using the more expensive Knit Contour paper.

Optional, but very helpful: several different French Curves, available from office supply shops, and an 18″ clear plastic ruler made for sewers and quilters, with measurements marked in 1/8″ increments (this can easily be converted into a half-scale “yardstick”). The one I like best is manufactured by Collins. It is marked in a 1/8th inch grid throughout. Purchase some rub-on letter and number sheets from your office supply store. Only the numbers will be used, and they should be very small. Rub on number 1 at the 1/2″ mark at left side of ruler; rub on number 2 at the 1″ mark; rub on number 3 at the 1 1/2″ mark; rub on number 4 at the 2″ mark. Continue this process every 1/2″ along the ruler. These numbers tend to wear off after repeated use. To protect them, drop a dot of clear fingernail polish over each. Voila! You have just made your own half scale see-through yardstick! I really like the see-through feature, since the marked grid allows me to line up the ruler both vertically and horizontally when drawing lines, and I use this tool more than Studio’s triangle ruler. However, both will do exactly the same job.

For this lesson, we will draft a pattern for the KR-6 Knit Contour. Owners of KR-7 units should just draw exactly the same pattern outlines to the left of center 0 as well, making a full, rather than half, pattern outline. We will be using only a half scale ruler throughout, since it automatically converts all measurements into half scale. Absolutely no conversions will be given for using “regular” rulers, since this is too confusing. If using the Studio triangle ruler, use the inch side throughout.

Use a pocket calculator to change fractions into decimals, as follows:
.125 = 1/8
.25 = 1/4
.375 = 3/8
.5 = 1/2
.625 = 5/8
.75 = 3/4
.875 = 7/8

Use a pencil with a good eraser to draft the original lines, and a pen or felt tip marker to go over the finished pattern outline. It helps to be able to erase original guidelines that no longer are needed on the final pattern. Be sure pattern is correct before erasing them or going over final outline with ink.


parallel lines

In order to draft patterns, it is necessary to understand a couple of terms. These are:

1. Parallel – draw another line above the first exactly the same distance from the original on both ends

2. Perpendicular – draw a line at right angles to another line. To “square a line” means the same thing.


sweater diagram 1

Drawing The Pattern

Step 1, Preparing the Schematic
1. Select the pattern chart for the garment. A sample is included here, and will be used for this lesson.

2. Determine the size needed. Compare your own body measurements against those given with the chart, and select those closest to your own. You may need to read the written pattern to find the body measurements, since the ones on the chart itself usually include ease. Note any needed alterations. Pay particular attention to sleeve length, as anyone over 5′ 4″ will probably need to add extra. Arms vary greatly in length.

3. It is helpful to make another small sketch of the pattern, using only the measurements for the desired size. Draw the back, and copy off only the measurements for your size. Be sure to enter all length and width amounts. Make a sketch of the front, the sleeve, including cuff, and the neckband, and enter all length and width measurements for each.

NOTE: Some charts do not show all required measurements. In this case, it will be necessary to figure them from the information that is given. For example, the depth of the shoulder slope is often not shown To determine the amount needed, subtract the armhole depth and the sideseam length, including ribbing, from the total length of the garment. Sometimes the width of the neck is not shown. In that case, it may be necessary to read the written pattern, see how many stitches are in the back neck, then divide by the stitch gauge. Example: there are 48 sts in the back neck, and the stitch gauge is 8 sts per inch. Divide 48 by 8. There is 6″ across back neck. If the width of the bindoff at underarm is not shown, use the same method as for the back neck. If width of each shoulder is not shown, but the back width above the bustline is shown (total back shoulder width), first determine neck width, either from the chart, or mathematically from the written pattern, as above. Subtract neck width from back shoulder width, then divide by 2 to find width of each shoulder.

4. One additional step is necessary before drawing the pattern on Knit Contour paper. Draw a center vertical line down the middle of each section of the sketch. Divide all width measurements in half and enter the amount on each side of the center line.


center back line

Step 2
5. Begin drafting Knit Contour pattern with Back. Draw center line, at left edge. Place a dot at lower edge of center line for bottom edge of garment.

6. Measure straight up the total length of the Back and place a dot for neck edge at top of pattern. (22.75″)


back step 1

7. At lower edge of pattern, square a line out to the right; on this line, measure half the back width (10") and place a dot.

8. Measure straight up from point 7 the length of the side seam, including the bottom ribbing; place a dot.

9. Square a line across from point 8 to the center line for armhole line.



back step 2

10. Measure in from point 8 along armhole line the amount of the armhole bind off and place a dot.

11. At point 6 on top center line, square a line out from center towards shoulder; measure outwards on this line half the neck width (2.5″) and place a dot.

12. From point 6 on top center, measure outwards on same line from step
11 half the shoulder width (8″) and place a dot.

13. Drop straight down from point 12 the amount of shoulder slope (1.25″) and place a dot. Connect point 13 (shoulder point) to dot 11 (neck point).

14. Drop straight down from point 13 to armhole line.

Note that for this style the armhole is square, and there is a straight line from armhole bind off to shoulder. On set-in sleeve styles, it is necessary to draw in the underarm curve after completing step 14.


front neck

Drawing the Front
Step 3
15. Front and Back are the same except for neck shaping. Repeat steps 1-14, above. Only the neck area will be illustrated here. Block out Front Neck opening. Drop down from point 6 the front neck depth measurement and place a dot on center line.

16. Draw a line straight down from neck point (11) the front neck depth measurement; connect to point 15, forming a rectangle.

17. Divide line 15-16 by 3 and place dividing marks; do the same for line 11-16.

18. Using a French Curve, draw an even curve from inner third mark on line 15-16 to upper third mark on line 11-16. This is the front neck line.



19. Neckband. Draw half the neckband to the right of the centerline. Square a line from the marked point back to the center

I like to join the right shoulder of the sweater after knitting Back and Front, then make the neckband. No matter whether the band is picked up around the neck edge, or knitted first and joined to the neck, it helps to know how many stitches are in the back neck section. I usually mark this amount right on the pattern, as illustrated above. Starting at the right lower edge of the band pattern, measure the full amount of the back neck (5″). Place a dot on lower line. The back neck stitches correspond to the right section. (Remember that this is half a pattern; the front neck is more than half of the band width.)



Drawing The Sleeve
Step 4
20. Decide whether the sleeve will be knitted from the bottom up, or from the top down. On a straight or square armhole style, unless the purl side will be the right side, it is usually easier to knit the sleeve from the top down to eliminate having to seam it to the armhole later. Place a dot at lower center line to show top of sleeve.

21. At lower edge of pattern, square a line across to the right, a little longer than half the sleeve width at top. Measure half the top sleeve width (8 3/4″) and place a dot on this line.

22. Measure straight up along center line the length of the sleeve, excluding cuff length (15 1/2″), and place a dot.

23. Square a line from point 22 across to the right. Measure half the lower sleeve width (5 5/8″) and place a dot.

24. Measure straight up from point 21 the same amount as width of armhole bindoff (2″) and place a dot Connect point 24 up to point 23 for sleeve side seam. Connect point 24 straight down to point 21 for underarm bindoff seam.



25. Cuff. Just above sleeve pattern, place a mark on centerline for cuff. Square a line out to the right for half the cuff width (3 3/4″) and place a dot.

26. Measure straight up from point 25 on the center line the depth of the cuff (3″) and mark.

27. Square a line to the right from point 26 to the same length as line 25. Place a dot. Mark straight down to point 25.

25. Cuff. Just above sleeve pattern, place a mark on centerline for cuff. Square a line out to the right for half the cuff width (3 3/4″) and place a dot.

26. Measure straight up from point 25 on the center line the depth of the cuff (3″) and mark.

27. Square a line to the right from point 26 to the same length as line 25. Place a dot. Mark straight down to point 25.

This completes the basic instructions for copying a pattern schematic, found in many knitting patterns, onto a Knit Contour chart. It should greatly expand your pattern library.


Knit Contour Tutorial Links

The individual chapters of this tutorial are listed below.

Knit Contour Index

Determining Gauge

Using Knit Contour Patterns

KR6 and KR7 Knit Contours

KR10 and KR11 Knit Contours

Reading Knit Contour Patterns

Drafting Knit Contour Patterns


This tutorial is from the book, Making Friends With the Knit Contour by Irene Woods, published in 1988, and uploaded to the original Clearwater Knits Website in 1998.