Knitting Blog

Making Sense of Modular Knitting Patterns

Have you ever come across a knitting pattern that wasn’t written in straight rows? Instead of reading “Row 1, Row 2, Row 3,” some patterns give instructions in chunks, and then put those chunks together to create a full project. If you’ve never read one before, these modular knitting patterns can be a bit confusing.

Scania Shawl in Black and White

Designers often choose to write patterns this way when each row will be very similar. When every single row is the same except for a stitch or two, it can actually be easier to read broken-down instructions — otherwise, you might miss the details. Many knitters find a rhythm in the modules.

There are two main types of modular knitting patterns.

Both pattern types are similar, giving you building blocks to create a finished piece. The patterns are written to encourage an understanding of the rhythm of the overall pattern, rather than giving line-by-line instructions.

For both pattern types, you’ll find instructions for the the sections or modules listed toward the beginning of the pattern. You’ll reference these sections as you knit.

You also might find a foundation or cast-on section, which is the start of the pattern before the modules really begin. Be sure to start here before jumping into the modules. 

Whole row modules

Drachenfels shawl

Some patterns use modules that are made up for whole rows. That’s how the Drachenfels Shawl pattern, pictured above, is constructed.

For example, a knitting pattern could have a few main sections: A solid colored stockinette stitch section made up of 6 rows, a colorwork section made up of 10 rows, and a garter stitch section made up of 6 rows. These sections are stacked upon each other and repeated several times to create the design.

Imagine building blocks stacking up: You start with 10 blocks of Section 1, then 5 blocks of Section 2, another 2 blocks of Section 1, then 5 blocks of Section 3. When you’re done, you have a skyscraper.

Row modules

In the other type of modular pattern each row contains stitches for several different modules. For example, the first few stitches might create a border, the next few might form a cable stitch, the next section could be stockinette, and it might finish with another border. Each of those elements, separated by stitch markers, would be considered a module.

Scania Shawl up close

In fact, that’s how the Scania Shawl , pictured above, is built. 

Things can get a bit confusing when the motifs in the modules are created over a different number of rows. For example, you only need 2 rows to create stockinette, but you might need 4 rows to complete a cable repeat.

In that case, the module instructions will include row numbers. It might look something like this:

Section 1:
Row 1:
Row 2:

Section 2:
Row 1:
Row 2:
Row 3:
Row 4:

Section 3:
Row 1:
Row 2:

In this instanced you’d knit:

  • Section 1 Row 1, Section 2 Row 1, Section 3 Row 1
  • Section 1 Row 2, Section 2 Row 2, Section 3 Row 2
  • Section 1 Row 1, Section 2 Row 3, Section 3 Row 1
  • Section 1 Row 2, Section 2 Row 4, Section 3 Row 2

If it’s helpful, you can write out one full set of the longest pattern repeat by row.

When you think about it in terms of building blocks, you’re building a long, expansive wall. Each layer of the wall uses several different shapes or colors of bricks, slowly building up.

Using modules in combination

These two types of modular patterns aren’t mutually exclusive. The two can be combined to create even more complex designs.

In fact, the Scania Shawl uses both types of modular patterns. In addition to the row modules, the pattern includes whole row modules in the form of colors. That is, while you’re knitting the modules back and forth, you’re also creating color modules of different sizes, following a different chart.

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36 Comments

Jo Dee Myatt

If you haven’t had any trouble with this pattern YEA for you!!! Maybe you should stop reading here.
Sorry to be a grump, but this has got to be the worst way to write a pattern that I have ever seen. There is no way to follow what you are doing, I have even tried to work on re-writing it so I could actually knit this beautiful shawl. But once I get to the phantom ‘Row 20’ there is truly no way to carry on, and I am an experienced knitter. Row 19 is not enough past the point of where you actually are working the four parts of the shawl to be comfortable with the instruction: “Continue knitting the four parts, increasing one stitch every RS row and maintaining the stripes according to the color scheme. ….” I can’t even figure out how to write the next 5 or 6 rows so I can carry on. If the designer had just taken us to the 25th or 26th row I think I could carry on.

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Elise

Row 20 begins by doing Part 1 Row 1 (k4); Part 2 Row 1 (k1tbl, p2, sl1k2psso, p2, k1tbl); Part 3 Row 1 (knit to marker, m1L); Part 4 Row 1 (k1, sl1wyif, k1)
Row 21 is Part 4 Row 2 (sl1wyif, k1, sl1wyif); Part 3 Row 2 (purl to marker); Part 2 Row 2 (p1tbl, k2, p1, yo, p1,k2, p1tbl); Part 1 Row 2 (k4)
Row 22 is RS- Part 1 Row 1;RS Part2 Row 3; Part 3 RS Row1;Part4 Row 1
Row 23 would be reversing starting from Part 4 WS R2; Part 3 WS R2; Part 2 WS R4; Part 1 WS R2 It’s very weird going backwards. I am now waiting to find out how to end

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Rose

Thanks Elise. This makes clearer for me. A lot confusing unless someone explains.

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Patricia Marek

I totally agree! I am totally confused with the whole concept of this kind of pattern (call myself a knitter, but now I wonder!) I never did a KAL before, so expected to see Jodi and Tracie actually knitting the shawl as it went along. Seems I’m not alone with these thoughts since I’ve become aware from reading the comments from the KAL that there are so many other participants — all of us having the same problems. Sorry to say, I’m quite disappointed.

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Stephanie Reece

I agree – I don’t even know how to start??? I went online thinking that the video would show me how to and it doesn’t. Putting it away for when I become a more experienced knitter I guess.

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Cheri Barker

I am so confused I can’t even figure out how to start beyond casting on the first 8 stitches. Then row 1 says as the first step see above?????

If this were a quilt along, there would be a lot more instuctions on how to start this thing. I’ve been knitting for over 40 years, so I’m not a newbie. But this has me totally baffled. HELP!

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Mackenzie

HI,
When they had SSE in the setup pattern they are referencing Part 4 (SSE): of the instructions section. And according to the setup chat on the back page of the pattern you have to do Row 2 (sl1wyif, k1, sl1wyif). And in adding up those three stitches with the five that remain in the setup (row 1) equals eight stitches which is the CO amount and since it was a WS row you were not needing to increase.
I hope this helped… Happy Knitting! And God Bless!

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Elise

I was also confused. the legend is misleading. After casting on you actually do Part 4 (SSE) Row 2 (WS); then do the rest of the line of Row 1 (WS) in set up. You then turn and do Row 2 and when you get to the SSE you do Part 4 Row 1 (RS) and continue on. See my above comment for after Row 19

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Lois Shipley

I regret purchasing this kit. I’m struggling at starting, got my stitches CO. I wonder what other pattern I could use my yarn for?

I’m disappointed.

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Nan Zingrone

I wrote out the first 51 rows and benefited from somebody on the KAL who wrote out all 242. At one point the desinger was tellng people they could avoid holes from make it left if they knit all the increases with knit/purl through the back loop but that’s not in the pattern (and I like the holes so what the heck). But I agree with everybody here. The pattern is not a bit confusing, it’s a jigsaw puzzle and if you’re using to ticking off rows, checking previous rows if you need to, and making up for interruptions mid-row, it’s worse than a jigsaw, it’s a nightmare. Were there test knitters or technical editors on this pattern? The resulting shawl is beautiful but the pattern is a total nightmare and it isn’t helping having you guys say “wow it’s a tad tough but if you write it out …” and the designer says “what? but it’s so easy? do this that I didn’t mention in the pattern.” I don’t think I’m buying pattern/kit ever agaiin until I’ve had a chance to check the Ravelry thread and find out whether the pattern is written properly, or is a mess like this one. If Craftsy wants to stick with this type of pattern at least have a video tutorial on how to keep track, how to write out, something, and a video of the initial stages of the knitting, and then like the recent upload with Jodie and Traci, key elements like the turn. I feel like we didn’t just get coaxed into the deep end on this; we got kicked off the pier.

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Pamela

Boy, do I agree…. I finally got through the set up, with practice yarn….but, from there on, I am totally baffled! It took hours just to figure out the set up…. I have read and re-read all the pattern pages…..still cannot understand. And I have been knitting for years….. what a waste of money and effort….too bad, though, such a beautiful shawl….

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Patricia

Hello, where did you see that someone had wrote out all 242 rows?

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Beth

so frustrated…
Nan willing to share the rows you wore out ??

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Donna Montoya

I’d be happy to share my written page with you but not sure how to get it to you. Pretty sure I can’t paste it in here.

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Vicky

There seems to be a mistake in the Set-up instructions The schematic does not tie in with the written instructions. Has anyone else found this?.

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Pamela Smith

Have no idea, like the others, what you are talking about in this attorney. Very confusing and a waste of money. You need a video showing step by step. Will never order from Craftsy again!

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Christine

I just added this to my cart and I’m so glad I didn’t check out right away. After reading these comments… I think I’ll pass on this one until I see some positive responses.

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Ayleen Jackson

What a shocking pattern. I AGREE WITH THE OTHER COMMENTS JODIE AND TRACEY SHOULD DO A TUTORIAL FROM BEING TO END. I have been knitting for sixty years and I feel that this pattern needs to be RE WRITTEN so all knitters can read the pattern. What an absolute shocker. Grocery Girls please do something.

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Donna Montoya

If someone wrote out all 242 rows, I would certainly like to see it! This is a nightmare to follow. I’m an above average knitter and certainly intelligent enough to decipher most patterns but that isn’t the case with the Scania Shawl! I need help if I’m to finish this one!

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Sondra West

I agree Donna. I’ve been knitting for 50 years and can’t get past the CO. Please someone post the 242 rows.

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Cheryl

After reading the comments, I am so relieved! Thought I was going to have to throw in my knitting needles! I have wrestled with these instructions and haven’t gotten past CO! Thought when I purchased kit that it was going to be a knit along with video …I love the shawl but arrrrggggghhhhhh!

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Roxie Stork

I got all the rows figured out but it says you will change colors on Part 2 Row 1. It says to leave a tail long enough that it won’t pull out. OK, I can do that, but what happens to that “tail”? I have yet to find out how to keep it from pulling loose – it is just hanging there! HELP!

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Donna Montoya

Update: I bought 2 kits, one for me and one for my sister and it took both of us to figure out the pattern. I think we have it now so I thought I’d provide some clues to help others who are struggling. It would seem that Craftsy isn’t helping!

Think of the shawl as 4 separate sections (modules). On the right side, the first 4 stitches are always knit (same for the wrong side but I’m walking thru a right side row). The next section is the mock cable and consists of a 4-row repeat. Follow the part 2 4-row repeat where rows 1 and 3 are right side rows and rows 2 and 4 are wrong side rows. The third section (still on the same right side row) is just knit to the marker then m1L. The final section is what threw us a curve! There are 3 stitches and on the right side, you will always k1, sl1wyif, k1.

Now for the wrong side row: the first 3 stitches (remember you just turned the piece to the wrong side so you are reversing the order of the sections) will always sl1wyif, k1, sl1wyif. The second section is always purl across to the marker. The third section is the back side of the mock cable and, depending on which row of the pattern are on, you will use either row 2 or 4 of part 2. Easy way to figure it out is count the stitches. If you have 8, you need to do row 2 (it adds a yo where you slipped the stitch over 2 in the previous row). If you have 9, you need to do row 4. The fourth section is always k4.

We made a chart that we could refer to and keep track of where we were, as well as where color changes should take place. My “chart” has 5 columns: Row #, Part 1 pattern row, Part 2 pattern row, Part 3 pattern row, and Part 4 pattern row. It’s nothing fancy, just hand written, but it really helped me get started. It really is easy and repeats the given rows over and over. We found it useful to keep track of the number of stitches is part 3, as well. At row 18, where you inserted the 3rd sttich marker, you have only one stitch in part 3. Increasing 1 stitch on every right side row builds the shawl shape. By row 28, you have 6 stitches. By row 40, you have 12. By row 60, you have 22, and so on.

I have also tied a loose knot when I join new yarn because we will let those ends become part of the fringe. I’ve left a tail of 4-6″. Probably will trim it to same length of fringe.

I hope this helps someone and I hope Craftsy responds to some of these comments before everyone swears off Craftsy for life!

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Mamie Adams

Hi, I see Im not alone in trying to figure this pattern out. This is my first KAL and very disappointed. Thank you, for your input I will try again, hopefully I can get to this point and maybe by then either craftsy or someone will post the complete write up of the pattern. My yarn will be worn out soon. Help

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Timme Firlotte

Oh boy, I see I’m not alone on this…. I have. Read this pattern over and over and can’t get past the 1st set up row? This is horrible! It says cast on 8, then the instructions are SSE, pm,p1tbl, pm, k4…. okay so I fingered that SSE is slip stitch edge ( but do you slip it purl or knit wise?) then plans marker, then purl1 through back loop, then place marker, knit 4 ….. well I seem to have 2 extra stitches? So confusing and a waste of my time and MONEY.
I think there needs to be more instructions or help please.

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Donna Montoya

One the first row, SSE is sl1wyif, k1, sl1wyif. Thereafter, SSE is k1, sl1wyif, k1 on the RIGHT side and sl1wyif, k1, sl1wyif on the wrong side. Hope this helps.

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Timme Firlotte

Ok so I was wrong on the SSE it seems ! I am so confused and disappointed, they really need to re-write this pattern, not really fair as you can’t see the pattern or info on it until you purchase it, so hard to know what you are getting into. The knit along is a total waste of time, they really don’t help at all. It should be shown from start to finish if it is a knit along…that’s also very disappointing.

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Timme

The tail will always be on the 4 st garter edge and will be a part of the Fringe edge I’m thinking….
I have this figured out now, thankfully. Just read Elies comments above and it makes sense. I am writing it out as I go.
So basically on the Right side your are always knitting 4 (part 1) then you work part 2/ row 1, then part 3/row1(always knit to marker , m1L, then part 4/ row 1(SSE). On the wrong side …you are always starting with SSE(sl1wyif, k1,sl1wyif), purl to marker then work part2/row 2, then always ending with k4.
Not sure if I’m making sense but once it clicks in your head you’ll be surprised how easy it is. It’s a project to keep you on your toes!
It does makes sense once you start writing it out.

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Patricia Hines

I was thoroughly baffled by this pattern until I went back to the Craftsy site and found the pattern written out – not relying on the Parts. I’m going good right now, but for some reason I missed how to change threads and have laddered all my threads up the fringe side. Now I am wondering what to do with this once I start to unravel the fringe. If I cut my threads will I lose all my stitches or can I just pull out the threads that I laddered up the sides and eventually cut them to blend in with the fringe? Confusing???

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Donna Orendorff

Where on crafty site is this written out.? I think I figured out some of it, but not positive.

I am also disappointed with knit along. I thought it would be much more instructional.

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Linda

I haven’t even started this pattern yet. I read the instructions and am confused. I am thinking of using this yarn for something else. I hope the grocery girls can get Craftsy to rewrite this pattern. This is the worst pattern I’ve ever tried to follow. I’ve been knitting for over 40 years and usually can ditch the pattern after a few rows. But not this one. Very disappointed and will be very careful about getting any
more patterns from Craftsy. Why aren’t they doing something about this?

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Pat Morrow

Started this to be a quick project for daughter who loves blues, but I agree with all above. The way the pattern is presented is very confusing and makes it seem difficult. There are really only four rows which just get repeated and I may type it out that way…lots of other things to be working on.

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Loretta

Loved this pattern one I figured out the pattern. Really a 4 row repeat in the border plus the edge, the 4 fringe stitches and increasing in the body of the shawl. The pattern could have been written in a much easier way. But, I love the final product. Wondering if others snipped the ends of the loops as that’s how the picture looks. The grocery girls did not. I am a bit of a loose knitter so I had to adapt the pattern to accommodate the amount of yarn. I don’t think it affected the finished product (and I know I should have done a gauge swatch but I didn’t .

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Irma Rivera

As all if you are, I am so frustrated and cobfused wirh this prohect. I was so excited at rhe beginning. It took me a long while to get SSE tgen Ir went well, until after row 19. Your notes helped.
Not sure about ordering another kit unless the pattern is written in all rows till the end. Please, no more parts!!!
Crafty should be able to either mail us a row by row pattern and mail it to us or post it for us to see.
I would love to feel comfortable ordering kits from crafty knowing there is a complete written pattern sent with your kit, one that is written row by row instead of sections.

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Donna Dean

Please,please please,please,please
Donna Montoya
Can you share your chart of the 242 or tell us where it is?
I would appreciate it sooooooo much.
Thank you
Doni4504@Gmail.com

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Renee

I’ve had the same difficulties as everyone else and, now at the end, cannot make sense of how to finish it off. I can’t fathom the I-cord bind off row (rows??) Then, even more confusing, “sew i-cord against border”?! If anyone has figured this out Pleease let me know. Many thanks.
Renee

8

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