Have you ever knitted an illusion? Illusion knitting, also called shadow knitting, is a technique where you knit a design of two contrasting colors of stripes with simple knit and purl stitches. From the front view, it looks like a simple striped pattern. But, when the project is viewed from the proper angles, a hidden image appears.
My first illusion knit project was a Halloween skull illusion knit scarf. I loved this technique, but could not find the patterns for the hidden images I wanted. So, I decided to create my own designs.
Kkhymn’s Illusion Knit Charts:
- Guitar Illusion Knit (Charted Instructions Only)
- Sewing Machine Illusion Knit (Charted Instructions Only)
- Paw Illusion Knit (Charted Instructions Only)
- “C” Bears Illusion Knit
- Cat Illusion Knit
- Dog Bone Illusion Knit
- Tree and Branches Illusion Knit
- Finding Peace Illusion Knit
- Music Illusion Knit
- Mickey Mouse Illusion Knit
- Apple Illusion Knit
- Butterfly Illusion Knit
- Horse Illusion Knit
I have put links to my other (non-illusion) knit designs on the More Free Patterns page on this blog. There are also links to some great, free patterns from other designers.
I think I am attracted to illusion knitting because it reminds me of two lessons in life – Don’t judge a book by its cover and everyone has a hidden talent or gift to share in life.
If you would like to request a particular illusion knit pattern, please feel free to ask. I can not promise that I am able to create it, but I will try my best.
How to Create Your Own Illusion
After much trial and error, I finally figured out how to take a graphic image on a chart and convert it to an illusion knit pattern. Before you begin, it is important to understand these key concepts:
- You can’t just take an image on a chart, add knit and purl stitches and change colors every two rows to create your illusion. Whatever graphic or image you have on a chart needs to be stretched vertically to create the illusion knit pattern. To stretch the image, you will be adding blank rows in between each of the rows that have the pattern image. See the example of the heart chart below.
- The pattern on an illusion knit chart is created on even numbered rows. The odd numbered rows are always knit across and left blank. The only difference between whether you knit or purl a stitch on the chart is whether the even numbered row is on the contrast color or background color.If the pattern is created correctly, the wrong side of your project will show you a reverse-colored image of your illusion.
- Illusion knitting results in a pattern of two alternating colored stripes when viewed from the front. But, at the proper angles, a seemingly invisible image appears. See my Halloween Skull scarf as an example from a previous post.
So, what is the difference between the original image and one created for an illusion? Here is the image of a heart on a chart:
Select the image you want to put on a knit chart. It should be a simple image, with two colors (black and white works best for me).
Go to the KnitPro Web site to upload the image on to a chart specifically designed for knitting. The height and width or knit and purl stitches are not the same (the ratio is not 1:1), so using regular graph paper to create your picture won’t work. Save your Knit Pro image and print out the chart.
Go to a spreadsheet program, like Excel, and create a blank chart. Insert your border rows (two rows at top and two rows at the bottom of the chart that is not part of your pattern. I try to keep these rows opposite colors and leave these as knitted rows.
Look at your Knit Pro chart. Starting from the 4th row from the bottom of your Excel spreadsheet, recreate your pattern image on the even numbered row, shading the boxes with a color of your choice.
Add another column to mark the right-side and wrong side of your pattern. Row 1 is the RS of the pattern. At the bottom of the chart, number each column starting from right to left.
Starting with Row 1 of your chart, shade every other two rows grey, leaving the colored patterned boxes alone. The first two rows are shaded grey, the next two are not, etc. The only exception is where you have already placed your pattern colored boxes. Leave those the same.
If you are shading correctly, Rows 1 and 2 are shaded in grey, Row 3 should be no color. Row 4 should be no color except for where your pattern boxes are already placed. And so on … The shaded rows will represent your contrast color, the non-shaded rows will represent your background color.
Now add your purl stitches to the pattern. These are only on the even numbered rows of your chart, starting with Row 4. For even-numbered, background color (non-shaded) rows, add purl stitches where the pattern exists. For even-numbered, contrast color (shaded) rows, add purl stitches where the pattern does not exist.
Now you have to modify the chart cells to the proper row height and width, and make sure it is readable and prints out on one page. In an actual knit graph. the width is always wider (almost double) than the height, but that distorts the image on your chart. I make the cell width significantly smaller than the height so that the chart is readable.
Inverting and Flipping Your Image:
This last series of steps are optional but it will help you when you are inverting the image.
On the left side of your chart, number the rows from top to bottom. This marks the order of the rows when you want to invert the pattern. Where you start the numbering depends on which row your pattern ends on the chart. Starting at one row before your pattern begins from the top of that chart, number this row as Row 1 and it should be the contrast color. Row 2 should be the start of when your pattern appears, and should also be the contrast color. Add the column with RS and WS – it should match with the other side of the chart. At the top of your chart, number the columns from left to right, this shows the direction to read the even number rows of the chart when you are inverting the image.
For the first half of the pattern, the odd number rows are read from right to left and the even numbered rows are read from left to right and the chart is read from bottom to top. When you are inverting the pattern, you read the chart from top to bottom. If you want to also flip your image so that it faces the opposite direction, then read the even number rows from right to left.