How to Make an Illusion Knitting Pattern

By Kate Bruscke
Choose two contrasting colors to knit your illusion pattern.

You can create your own pattern for illusion, or shadow, knitting. This fun technique allows you to make two unique designs that are each visible at different angles. The effect uses two contrasting-colored yarns. Colors and stitches are alternated so that raised stitches (formed by purling) obscure flat stitches (formed by knitting) when seen straight on. Each row viewed in an illusion is actually formed by four rows, two of the background color and two of the foreground. Tightly spun yarn is best for illusion knitting, because it keeps the stitches crisp. Homespun or novelty yarns can block the effect.

Lay the graph paper on a flat surface. Use the graph paper to create a pattern for your illusion knitting. Each square will represent one stitch, and each row is equivalent to a knitting row (although in illusion knitting, each row is actually worked 4 times).

Create a pattern on the graph paper. For a first-time illusion knitting project, keep the pattern simple, like a heart or a star. Fill in the boxes with the pen to delineate your design.

Count the number of boxes you filled in at the pattern’s widest point. You will need to cast on at least this many stitches when you begin to knit.

Start at the bottom row of the filled in graph paper when you cast on. You will follow your pattern from bottom to top.

Tip

To knit your pattern: Using one color of yarn, knit across the row once, then knit across again until you reach the first stitch on the needle that is filled in on the graph paper. Purl any stitches that are filled in, and knit stitches that are “white.”

Knit across the row in the second color of yarn. Then you will purl across the next row until you reach the first stitch on the needle that is filled in on the graph paper. Knit any stitches that are filled in and purl stitches that are “white.”

About the Author

A writer and professional lab assistant based in Seattle, Kate Bruscke has been writing professionally about health care and technology since 1998. Her freelance clients include "The Seattle Times," KGB.com, Reading Local: Seattle, Nordstrom and MSN/Microsoft. Bruscke holds a Master of Fine Arts from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.