Knitted Motifs (and what to do with them!)

Molly's fabulous motif scarf

I've just gotten a new book, 150 Knit & Crochet Motifs by Heather Lodinsky (the designer of the Central Park Hoodie!), which is really getting my creative juices flowing.

Motifs have always intrigued me, and I've knitted and crocheted many of them, but I rarely put them together to make a project. My friend Molly got some mystery silk-wool yarn from a friend and crocheted a bunch of flower motifs with it. She put them together to make the most beautiful scarf, pictured at left. Isn't it wonderful?

I think about that scarf a lot, and I've been intening to make one, but haven't yet.

After looking through 150 Knit & Crochet Motifs, though, I think I've been properly inspired.

There are really a lot of things you can do with motifs; afghans, of course, scarves such as Molly's, trims, brooches, and so forth. I've seen some wonderful felted bags with motifs on the sides. They take on a whole new look when they're felted.

One of my friends has a March birthday and I was thinking I would knit her a spa set (washcloth paired with some fab soap). After seeing all of the motifs available in the book, I think I've found my washcloth pattern.

The Eyelet Square

The Eyelet Square from 150 Knit & Crochet Motifs

Yarn: Worsted weight
Needle size: U.S. 7
Finished size: 6-7 inches, depending on your gauge

Cast on 4 stitches and divide evenly over 4 needles.
Join, taking care not to twist stitches.
Round 1: [Yo, k1] 4 times. (8 sts).
Round 2: [K1, k1tbl] 4 times.
Round 3: [Yo, k1, yo, k1tbl] 4 times. (16 sts)
Round 4 (and all even-numbered rounds): [K to the last st on the needle, k1tbl] 4 times.
Round 5: [Yo, k3, yo, k1tbl] 4 times. (24 sts)
Round 7: [Yo, k5, yo, k1tbl] 4 times. (32 sts)
Round 9: [Yo, k7, yo, k1tbl] 4 times. (40 sts)
Round 11: [Yo, k3, yo, sl 1, k2tog, psso, yo, k3, yo, k1tbl] 4 times. (48 sts)
Round 13: [Yo, k2, k2tog, yo, k3, yo, ssk, k2, yo, k1tbl] 4 times. (56 sts)
Round 15: [Yo, k5, yo, sl 1, k2tog, psso, yo, k5, yo, k1tbl] 4 times. (64 sts)
Round 17: [Yo, k15,yo, k1tbl] 4 times. (72 sts)
Round 19: [Yo, k17,yo, k1tbl] 4 times. (80 sts)
Round 21: [Yo, ssk] to the end of the round.
Round 22: [Yo, p20] 4 times. (84 sts)
Using a larger size needle, bind off loosely purlwise.

Yarn Choices

I'm going to knit my washcloth out of Blue Sky Alpacas Organic Cotton, but if you wanted this motif (or any motif) to be a different size, you'd just choose a different yarn weight and corresponding needle size. Here's some more advice about yarn choice from Heather Lodinsky.

On entering a yarn store and faced with an abundance of rich colors, how do you choose the right yarn?

As well as color, the fiber composition and the drape potential of a yarn are vital to the success of a project. Start by narrowing your options and consider carefully the characteristics you require of the finished knitted or crocheted fabric.

  • Would it be better if the fabric had some elasticity or not?
  • Would a fabric with a good drape be better or one with a firm gauge and no drape?

If your proposed project is an afghan, then perhaps a soft, cozy fabric with good drape would be most suitable. Some people consider pure wool yarns preferable when crocheting an afghan or large project because wool is lighter then cotton and improves the drape of the fabric; but there are times when synthetic yarns are better—particularly for baby items that may require frequent washing. For a bag, a firm, resilient fabric would be ideal, and for a cushion, well, the choice is up to you.

The next step is to indulge yourself! Select a range of single balls or hanks of yarn from the store—or from your stash—and work a few sample blocks. With experience you will be able to gauge how a yarn may perform, but there are always surprises.

Remember that the hook or needle size and the motif block worked will influence the final result—so experiment with yarns, hook or needle sizes, and motif shapes with more or less texture or loft.

There are so many fun things to do with motifs—check out 150 Knit & Crochet Motifs for hundreds of ideas!


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