About Trinity stitch

Texture dominates Trinity stitch.

In the First Treasury, Barbara Walker writes,

Trinity, Cluster or Bramble Stitch: This famous pattern is also (erroneously) called Bobble Pattern, and it probably has a few other names as well. It is one of the best of the “knobbly” texture patterns and is often used in panels to help embellish fancy-knit garments like fisherman sweaters.

I’ve flipped past this particular stitch pattern a dozen times, I’m sure. But never once did I look at it and think, hmm, this would be great for lace. Because… well, look at it! Does it look like lace to you?!? Good thing someone in the 19th century stretched it out, and, voilà! Observe the magic!

As I mentioned, there isn’t a single yarnover to be had here.

This shawl is constructed like no other I’ve knit, or even seen. I found it easier to understand the schematic if I flipped it on its side, such that the cast-on edge was at the bottom.

The triangle is constructed by working upward from the cast-on edge, making the decreases along the hypotenuse (purple), and forming a right angle between the two shorter sides (blue) (I can hear the number of commenters plummeting, hehe).

Now, the garter stitch issue I mentioned earlier. As written, the pattern advises you to make a garter stitch edging along the side of the triangle highlighted in orange. No slipping stitches or anything like that. And when I tried that, I could see that side of the triangle compressing and becoming extremely inflexible. Knowing that this shawl will need to be blocked severely, I decided that I could not have one entire side restricting the stretching of the lace. So after a few inches, I started over and now I slip (pwise, wyif) every first stitch of odd-numbered rows. This is creating a lovely chain of slipped stitches along the working edge, and I think it will be a-okay when time comes to stretch it out ;).


36 thoughts on “About Trinity stitch

  1. carla

    Ack, the hypotenuse post!

    The only shawl I have ever attempted to knit (Lily of the Valley Shawl by Galina Khmeleva) is constructed like that, and you work short rows every so often on the long side of the edging as you go.

  2. Caitlin

    I’m another de-lurker (I think… I may have commented here before, but infrequently) who loves your technical posts! The construction of that shawl is fascinating; I still can’t quite wrap my mind around it. And it’s turning out so beautiful!

  3. Sarah

    I never would have guessed what a nice lace that stitch pattern would make. I wish my brain would focus better to understand this shawl’s construction. It looks lovely and soft and wonderful. I cannot wait to see it finished.

  4. Anita

    Thanks so much for this post. This shawl is right at the top of my to-do list (right after all my Christmas stuff is done!). I have a gorgeous wine coloured cashmere just waiting for it. I’m looking forward to you getting to blocking stage, so I can see how the slip stitch edge works. Thanks for doing a trial run for me! ;)

  5. Christine

    I cannot believe this is in the first Treasury! I have gone by this stitch every single time (what is with me??). This shawl looks gorgeous in the grey you have chosen–can’t wait to see the final pics!

  6. Ruth V

    And another almost-delurker :) I can get my head around the construction ok, it’s how the stitch pattern blocks out that is boggling me! It looks stunning, and, in that colour, very like something which would be knittable for a bloke (not as a shawl:) texture and interest for the knitter, but nothing too ‘girly’! Can’t wait to see the final results.

  7. Auntly H

    That’s so cool! I love the geometry lesson, too. Last night our group of friends had a little discussion about parallelograms and rhombuses (rhombi?). The two of us who gave the lesson were called big dorks, but I’m pretty sure that just hid the awe. ;)

  8. margaux

    it’s so obvious you are a student of science – i love your posts that totally break it down, where i just look at Trinity Stitch and say, “Oooh Pretty, me like.” haha! Just made a hat out of it and it’s a great stitch and beautiful from either side!

  9. tina

    I love the shawl, first for the wonderful use of the stitch and secondly for the great construction. I further love the post for including the term hypotenuse with knitting! Hypotenuse for gravy sake!!!!!!

  10. Teej

    Yea! Hypotenuse!

    I’ve long found the subtle beauty of knitting math intrinsically pleasing. But then, I am a statistician by trade.. *smile*

  11. Peg

    Since knitting a pattern of Sally Melville, I always slip the first stitch purlwise, as I like the ‘chain’ on the edge, and it is so much easier to pick up stitches if need be.

  12. Beverly

    Gotta love a knitting blog post that uses the word “hypotenuse.” Though I am not a math geek now, I was in high school. Yay for geometry and knitting!

  13. Nicole

    It looks so lovely… that yarn is just wonderful and the stitch pattern is really transformed by a little stretching. The edge of course looks great.

  14. Amy

    I really think that color and yarn works great with the stitch. I can’t wait to see what the whole shawl will look like. Amazing that you can make lace out of a regular stitch pattern not met for it.

  15. Anne

    I love that yarn!

    Having just written a paper about the battle of Gettysburg from a geological perspective, math is making for a nice break. I am a geek all around, sad to say.

  16. Judi

    I love the stitch, understand the math,but can’t quite figure out why the shawl is constructed that way. It certainly doesn’t make intuitive sense. I am eager to see how it turns out.

  17. Debbie

    Being entirely “right-brained,” I detest the math posts, but I guess they are important to the left-brainers out there! I love the stitch as lace, however. Who knew?

  18. karla (threadbndr)

    wow, that’s a cameleon of a stitch. I’d never think to block it out enough to turn it into lace. Very clever.

    And keep the techie posts coming! You have a number of readers who are either fellow or former (that would be me) geeky types. We appreciate the math!

  19. anna

    urg, i totally understand having to turn the triangle, i can only understand right triangles when the legs are parallel and perpendicular to the edges of the page. and preferably with the right angle to the left.

    i want to let you know that you are one of my heroes, i’m working on my undergrand (microbiology) and am planning on entering a doctoral program (microbiology) as soon as possible. as a science nerd, it’s nice to know that i am not alone in the sea of humanities-major knitters.

  20. isabel

    I have massive anxiety about your slip stitch edging. Will it work? OMG it’s like a soap opera. I’m on tenter-hooks waiting to find out. Knitting… is so addictive.

  21. Denét

    Just thought I’d let you know that I like your technical approach. I’m a highschool humanities teacher, and got through my college math classes as quickly and painlessly as possible.

    Never-the-less, I’m continually amazed at how mathematical knitting is–at least anything other than blindly following a pattern. It sort of redeems math for me. When teaching new knitting techniques, I love to point out the mathematical elements to it.

  22. Seanna Lea

    I remember trying the trinity stitch when I was working on my first couple of shawls. I wished I had given it a longer try. I think when I started I just wanted the shawls to mostly look like the finished product (without needing to imagine a squiggle of yarn magically blocking into a work of art).

    I’ll have to look at this again after the holidays.

  23. TracyKM

    I’d never think of that stitch for lace either! Now I’ll have to go back through my books and look closer.

    When I’m making something with a garter st edging, I add a little short row every inch or so, just an extra bit in the garter edging. Unfortunately, I’m the type of person who tends not to be exact…I KNOW I should be consistent, but it just never seems to happen, LOL.

  24. sophanne

    words like schematic and hypotenuse are some of the many reasons I love knitting- and clever patterns like that. It all feels so very smart.

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