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What is Pointelle?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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In knitting, pointelle is a knitting pattern that creates an openwork design when it is completed. It is used in a lot of garments to add texture, in addition to making them more lightweight and creating a varied look. A pointelle garment also tends to be cooler than a solid knit, making it more suitable for warm climates. It is often used as an accent on a garment, to provide a block of different texture. In addition, an entire garment can be made with this stitch, as is often the case with undershirts that are designed to be simple and comfortable with a dash of style.

Technically, any openwork pattern is pointelle. One of the most classic designs uses chevrons, but these knits can use any number of geometric shapes, or a combination. The more complex the design, the more challenging it is to knit. Complex pointelle can also look quite stunning, once knitters have mastered the art of it. A pattern may integrate floral themes, such as ferns or palm leaves, in combination with other design elements.

Many commercially produced knits have pointelle patterns that are produced on knitting machines. Knitting machines are superb at producing complex standardized patterns, although the garments that they produce lack the flavor of hand knit work. Knitting machines are also capable of creating very small work, such as the jersey knit used to make many t-shirts and undergarments.

A casual glance at pointelle leads many people to believe it is very difficult. In fact, it is fairly easy to make, as long as the knitter is able to follow a pattern closely and keep track of stitches. Dropping a single stitch or missing a section of the pattern will spoil the garment. For this reason, many knitters work on their projects in calm environments, with the assistance of a stitch counter to help them keep track of where they are.

To knit in pointelle, knitters need to know the two basic stitches, knit and purl. They will also need to know how to perform a yarn over and a skip. All of these knitting procedures are very simple, but it does help to have an experienced knitter show a beginner how to do them. He or she may also want to start with a very basic pattern to become acquainted with the concept before moving on to complex garments and patterns. A scarf with pointelle accents is a great way to start.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a HomeQuestionsAnswered researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By Clairdelune — On May 25, 2011

Two Victorian vintage accessories, just like grandmother used to wear, are available for some eccentric women. They are made in the pointelle pattern.

One item is soft, pointelle gloves. They cover the lower arms and are fingerless. There is a matching neck drape with a lacy pointelle layer on top.

If you are searching for a vintage, romantic look, try these accessories. Or better yet, try knitting them yourself.

By sweetPeas — On May 23, 2011

I have done some standard knitting. I made a baby blanket for my daughter using the knit purl method. It was a tight stitch.

The pointelle knitting sounds like lots of fun. It looks kind of difficult, but I guess it really isn't.

It would be nice to knit some light weight, open sweaters for summer.

I'll have to find out how to do a yarn over and a skip. I don't have the faintest idea how to do them.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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