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Design ideas for throws and afghans
              Swatchboard
                         
Two big designs with small floats -
perfect for easy knitted throws

Stitchpatterns with bold designs lend themselves to knitting large flat items like afghans and throws. Because they will be handled quite a bit, machine knitters will appreciate short " floats", while this is not a concern for handknitters.
The finishing always looks better, though, if you are prepared to invest your time into a lining of some kind, and using a "cobweb" fabric this is very straightforward. Just use a very thin yarn on big needles or a very loose tension and knit lengths in plain stocking stitch. It will not bulk up your item nor will it take away from the natural drape of the knitted fabric.
The fabric design needs to be one which incorporates shapes which allow the natural fabric joins to form part of the finished product, or able to be "lost" in the design. This way you can join up your fabric lengths to form a wider fabric than you can knit in one piece.

Diagonal designs can be used in a chevron arrangement, where the design is mirror imaged. This can be done in various ways. The diagonal might be running in the same direction for half of your fabric, then mirror imaged for the other half, with a point in the middle where the two halves meet. This can be further varied by knitting the length in two halves and joining as above, then turning one section upside down before joining. Alternatively you can mirror image at selected points so that the chevrons occur at more points along the width of your fabric.

Directional designs. You can use any design that has a directional pattern to achieve interesting effects by knitting four or more squares or oblongs and joining them together so that the direction turns with each piece.

Mediterranean Check design Traffic light design  
Mediterranean Check from Contemporary Pattern hand or machine knit. A bold check for a traditional touch. Choose bright mediterranean colours or traditional burgundies and greys!
Maximum float length 6 sts.
Traffic Lights from Contemporary Pattern hand or machine knit. A quirky irregular design- the circles are not round and the borders are not neat! A good choice for modern minimalists.
Maximum float length 7 sts
.
Art Deco Optical Design Optical Illusion design
                                 
  Swirls design  
Zebra design
Gothic Arches design from Art Deco Designs Hand or Machine. Maximum float length 5 st. Mystery Wheels design from Optical Illusions. This one could even be quilted to emphasise the optical circles. Average float length 3 st. maximum floats 6 st.    
Crags design Arlecchino design    
  Foaming Surf design from Tones and Shades hand or machine- a bold impressive design. Maximum float length 6 st. Zebra design from Special Effects. Maximum float length 7 st.    
Japanese contemporary design Chequerboard design
Crags design from I Italian Collection
Maximum floats 5st
Arlecchino design from Italian Collection A lovely design but with longer floats, so you will have to manage them by lining, hooking up or using a floatless fairisle technique using the ribber.
Dogtooth combination design
Log Cabin design
  Japanese Contemporary design from Eastern Promise.
Maximum floats 6st.
Chequerboard(above) and Kaleidoscope Check (below)
from Fabric Weaves.. These designs come into their own over large surfaces wherer you can see the subtle changes of light and dark areas. Longest float 4 st. on both.
 
Log Cabin design from Patchworks 24. Maximum float length 7 st.   Dogtooth Combination design from Tartans, Tweeds and Checks. Maximum float length 7 st.
  Green tartan design Kaleidoscope design
Tablecloth tartan design
Mexican design
Diagonal Tartan design from Tartans, Tweeds and Checks. Maximum float length 7 st. All the books include design notes with colour and design ideas to try. If you are a Designaknit user and just want the stitchpatterns, opt for the DK disk.
Tablecloth check design from Tartans, Tweeds and Checks. Maximum float length 7 st. There are endless striking colour combinations you can use with this one. A series of Aztec designs (above and below) from Fabric Weaves. Maximum float length 7 st. You can achieve extra depth (as seen here) by using several strands of close colours in a fine yarn as one of your yarns.  
tablecloth check Aztec design Zigzag Design       One of a series of Japanese Optical designs Tiled Matting from Eastern Promise. Maximum float length 5 st. Very striking over large areas. Other designs which would work for throws etc. in the same collection are Woven Screen, Bold Screen, Shadows on a Screen and Offset Matting  
                                           
Diagonal designs
                       
  patterns in the sand   chevron chevrons2   chevrons3  
......          
Knit a chevron pattern, where the design is mirror imaged. Here the diagonal runs in the same direction for half of your fabric, then mirror imaged for the other half, with a point in the middle where the two halves meet. The design can go up or down towards the centre.

Or knit the length in two halves and join, either with points towards the centre, or points away from the centre.

Choose a diagonal design... (This is Patterns in the Sand from Contemporary Pattern hand or machine knit
  These photos show only a small section of fabric just to illustrate the different ways you can use a diagonal design. This design knitted into a a whole throw will look more intricate!
                           
            Directional designs              

Choose a directional design...
(This is Shaded Stripe from Designs for Interiors

Knit four or more squares or oblongs and joining them together so that the direction turns with each piece. You can use a very slightly different colour scheme on the different pieces to create an interesting effect.

Knit four or more squares or oblongs and join them together so that the direction turns with each piece.


If you use perfect squares you will find that they join up on the back to form a completely enclosed fabric. This will allow you to make a reversible throw with a built in lining!

   
Shaded Stripe Tones pink cushion tonesgreencush    
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sea strands mirror imaged

Seastrands design mirror-imaged )from Contemporary Pattern hand or machine knit.)
The strands remind me of seaweed strands like those you often find on the beach near where I live. This design can be used on the diagonal to bring movement into your item or garment, or mirror imaged to create a chevron effect. DIfferent effects can be obtained by mirror-imaging at different places on the design. Electronic owners can do this effortlessly by flicking a switch on the patterning controls. However, don't be put off if you only have a 24st or 40 st punchcard machine. You can still achieve this look by knitting the fabric in two halves. No need to repunch your card, you just put it in back to front for the second section.