Star-Spangled Illusion Place Mat Knitting Pattern

I decided to give myself a design challenge yesterday.  U.S. Independence Day is just around the corner (July 4th) and as the daughter of an American Legionnaire, I thought about Old Glory.

I decided to challenge myself to design a place mat that would look like the American flag – but in the Illusion style of knitting.  Some head-scratching and brain tickling ensued . . . .

But here’s what I came up with – start to finish – yesterday.  I LOVE IT!  Yup!  There are 50 knit tufts that make up the stars.

It really is an illusion because look what happens when the camera angle changes:

I designed it to be knit up the narrow dimension because that’s the way the math worked better for the canton and stars.  The American flag has its 50 stars set in a specific pattern and the math worked the best this was without compromising the proportion of the flag.

As you look at the field of stars, there is a bit of blue at the top and bottom of the stars.  I couldn’t spread the stars out any further.  It didn’t work mathematically.

As a general rule, illusion/shadow style knit designs don’t show up well if only one purl bump is supposed show on the right side of the fabric.  That’s why I knit tufts for the stars.  They are knit on the back side, but held to the front as you continue working.  The tufts are still only one stitch, but they have height, so they stand out.  No reason illusion knitting can’t combine some other techniques.

I included intarsia work as well.  There were a couple of ways to deal with the need for the third color.  In the end, I decided to just treat the canton as a color block, twist my colors on the wrong side, and keep knitting.  I designed the pattern so that the white goes all the way across and it is only the blue and red that end up in the same rows.

A table runner will work with what I’ve already got, but I would make a series of flags and flip them 180 degrees alternately for the runner length needed on the table. (PDF file is for placemat only, however, because I only had one skein of each color on hand at home when I got started.)

If you’d like to knit one, click the link for the PDF: Star-Spangled Illusion Place Mat

Ed: If you’ve downloaded the prior to 6/19/2012, there was an error in the pattern.  A reader caught it and contacted me.  The pdf file has been corrected.  Thank you, Janet, contacting me.

There are lots of opportunities to use the Star-Spangle Place Mat.  The United States Flag Code lists the special holidays when citizens are encouraged to show their colors:

  • New Year’s Day, January 1
  • Inauguration Day, January 20
  • Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday, third Monday in January
  • Lincoln’s Birthday, February 12
  • Washington’s Birthday, third Monday in February
  • Easter Sunday (variable)
  • Mother’s Day, second Sunday in May
  • Armed Forces Day, third Saturday in May
  • Memorial Day (half-staff until noon*), the last Monday in May
  • Flag Day, June 14
  • Independence Day, July 4
  • Labor Day, first Monday in September
  • Constitution Day, September 17
  • Columbus Day, second Monday in October
  • Navy Day, October 27
  • Veterans Day, November 11
  • Thanksgiving Day, fourth Thursday in November
  • Christmas Day, December 25
  • Other days as may be proclaimed by the President of the United States
  • The birthdays of States (date of admission)
  • State holidays

Have a happy and safe Independence Day! And hum your favorite patriotic song while you set your table!


  1. 1
    Angel Says:

    You are a treasure– and so are your patterns. (Since your patterns are listed on Knitting Pattern Central, I keep re-visiting your site and feel I am getting to know you through your knitting posts.) Happy 4th!

  2. 2

    Hi Angel, thanks for re-visitng. I hope what your getting to know is my ‘good side.’ Thanks for the happy 4th wishes! Hope you had a good one too.

  3. 3
    Tammy Says:

    Hello my name is Tammy I love your placemat this is just amazingly beautiful.. I love knitting recently was forced to quit my job for health reasons and knitting has been great therapy for me I will keep looking thru your website some day I hope to have one of my own maybe I can make one of these for my mom I just finished a teapot cosy for her lol everything goes to my mom LOL :) have a nice day

    Happy Knitting :)

  4. 4

    Tammy: Hello! Thanks for visiting my blog. I’m sorry that health reasons have forced you out of work. I’m glad knitting has been a help. It always is for me. I’m glad you like my placemat. I currently have mine on my table, since we just passed the Memorial Day weekend. I may leave it there through Falg Day and Independence Day. Hope you like yours! I know what you mean about everything going to your mom. I just knit my mother a small little something and gave it to her this weekend. It was one of my Candy Caddies. I did it in red, white and blue and found some mints with the same color scheme in the wrapping. thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. Happy knitting!

  5. 5
    Tammy Says:

    Hello goodnightgram thank you for replying back it meant a lot to me you took time out of your day :)) I just finished a drop stitch scarf for my sister in law I worked it up in about a week or little over so now I can start this beautiful place mat of yours. Well lets see I have 2 wks? think I can get one done in time? I think this is just beautiful I love knitting for my family the candy caddie sounds so cute I’ll have to check that out to theres so much I want to learn fair isle knitting and just all kinds of stuff can’t believe I”m so addicted to knitting now LOL but I’m going to study your pattern and see what I have to work with and maybe be able to get started on it today. Wishing you a peaceful and happy knitting monday :)) I’d love to start my own blog some day with all my projects..


  6. 6

    Tammy, I hope it works for you. It’s knitting and purling, mostly. If you can do the scarf in a week, that’s pretty good knitting, so maybe the place mat will get done in no time, too! Let me know how it goes. Blogging is fun and easy. There’s a learning curve, but I’m betting you would pick that up, too. Happy knitting!

  7. 7
    Mary Leirdahl Says:

    Love the Place Mat but couldn’t figure out how to Tuft . Tried many times but couldn’t figure it out. Is there a video or more explicate explanation. Took up knitting after 20 years, guess I’m rusty. Thanks for any help.

  8. 8

    Mary: Tufts are small bobbles, so the methods are similar. I haven’t found a video for making tufts, yet, but if you look at this video:, and follow Method 1 for making the increases, you bacically do what I suggested in my pattern. When you get to the stitch in which you are making the tuft, you knit into the front, (as a regular knit stitch), then knit into the back of the same stitch, and then the front again. You will have made three stitches from one. Those three stitches should still be on the left needle (if you knit right-handed). Then just pass the second and third stitches from the needle tip over the first stitch cloeset to the tip of the needle. That makes a little bump of stitches or a tuft. The remaining stitch from the tuft is slipped to the right needle and you continue working. As you knit, the little bump of tuft should be pushed through to the right side of the fabric so it shows up in the right place on the flag image.

    In one book that I use, tufts are smaller than bobbles and I wanted just a little bit of raised white for the stars on the flag. I didn’t want a big bobble.

    Hope this helps. If not, let me know.

RSS Feed for this entry

Please feel free to leave a comment. If you don't want to leave a comment, tell me a (clean) joke. Thanks for visiting!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: