Tutorial: Reading Charts- Repeats

Now we all are experts in reading a chart while knitting back and forth, and we’re experts in using charts in the round.  But charts aren’t always that simple.  Sometimes your project has more stitches in a row than there are on your chart.  You can imagine that this could happen with projects that have a wide, repeating pattern (like a dish cloth, a blanket, or sweater).

If you have to repeat the whole chart, that’s easy enough- knit across the chart row, then work it again (and again), until you get to the end of your row of your knitting.  Simple.

But sometimes you have to repeat only some of the stitches in a row.  When you need to do that, your chart will look like this:laura-chart-c-repeatsDo you see the change?  (It’s subtle, so I’ll help you.)laura-chart-c-repeats-highlightSee those highlighted vertical lines?  Those are your repeat marks.  OK, honestly, I’m not sure what they’re technically called, but they mark out the stitches that you have to repeat.

So, let’s make an imaginary project- a scarf maybe?  We’ll cast on 18 sts, and use this chart, repeating the 4 sts in-between the repeat marks 3 times.

Start at row 1 st 1, and knit straight through to st 6 (just before the second repeat mark).  (You’ve worked 6 sts)

laura-chart-c-repeats-order-1Then, go back to st 3 (just after the first repeat mark), and work back through st 6.  (10 sts total)laura-chart-c-repeats-order-2Then, you’ll repeat sts 3-6 once more, and continue on to the end of the row.  (18 sts total)laura-chart-c-repeats-order-3On the next row you do the same thing, but reverse the way you read the chart (because we’re pretending to knit back and forth).

So, start at row 2, st 10, and work across to st 3 (just before the second repeat mark).  (8 sts)laura-chart-c-repeats-order-4Then repeat the middle 4 sts.  (12 sts)laura-chart-c-repeats-order-5And finish by working sts 6-1 once more.  (18 sts)

laura-chart-c-repeats-order-6Make sense?  Of course, for a wider project, you might be required to repeat the middle section more times, but the concept is the same.  Just keep going across the row, looping back as needed when you get to a repeat mark.  Simple!

Any more questions?  Let me know if anything else is confusing to you, I’m happy to help!

Happy Birthday to On the Needles!

On the Needles is 4 years old!  It’s potty-trained, running around, and getting ready for pre-school.  It’s probably learning its letters and is getting the hang of drawing.

Or whatever 4-year-olds do.  I’m not an expert in 4-year-olds.

img_4637But, It’s exciting!  I’ve been at this way, way, waaaaaay longer than I expected to be when I started this back on 2013.  I’ve written more patterns, and met more people than I planned.  I’ve even turned this whole knitting/pattern-writing thing into an actual part-time job, which I never thought I could do.

It’s been fun, working on my writing skills and my knitting skills.  I love sharing the projects I’m working on, and I especially love sharing my patterns.  I love teaching you guys techniques and skills that I use every day (and I hope you like that, too!).  I’ve even enjoyed learning how to take not-terrible pictures (sorry about today’s, though- it’s crazy foggy here, it’s almost 10, and I’ve still got all the lights on inside the house).

I’m going to keep going as long as I can still think about things to talk about.  I hope you’ll be willing to come along with me.  And, of course, please let me know if you have questions about anything, suggestions or ideas- I’m only one person with one brain, and sometimes it gets a little empty, so help is always appreciated.

Here’s to another 4 years!

Happy knitting!

Tutorial: Reading a Chart in the Round

Last week, I talked about the basics of reading a chart.  Today, I’m going to talk about reading a chart while knitting in the round.

*Gasp* What?!  Charts!?  And circular needles?! That’s just too much!  I can’t even!  (Sorry… I’m feeling a little dramatic this morning)

No, it’s not difficult!  It’s actually pretty simple.

So remember this chart from last week?  This is a chart that’s been written so that you can work it flat (ie, back and forth).laura-chart-c-plainI’ve modified it to now be read in the round.  Can you spot the differences (It’s like a sad, grown-up version of the puzzles in the back of Highlights magazine)?laura-chart-c-in-the-roundThe first big difference (that I’m sure you spotted), is that all the row numbers are lined up along the right side of the chart.  laura-chart-c-in-the-round-detailsThat’s because when you knit in the round, you’re always traveling in the same direction (from right to left).  When you knit flat, you knit back and forth, so the row numbers are arranged on alternate sides.  But, the same rule applies no matter how you’re knitting- you start knitting from the side of the row with the number, and work away.laura-chart-c-in-the-round-knitting-directionThe second big difference is in they key:laura-chart-c-in-the-round-details-2It looks like there’s a whole bunch of information missing, when you compare this chart to the “knit flat” chart.  But, in fact, you’re not missing any information!  This is because when you knit in the round, every row is a RS row!  So, it’s just implied that (in this case) a white square is a knit stitch on the RS and a gray square is a purl.

Simple!

What’s your favorite kind of pattern?

Tutorial: Reading a Chart

I’ve had a rash of people emailing me lately who don’t know how to read a chart- and that blows my mind!  Not only are charts the best way (in my mind) to understand a complicated pattern, but I think they’re head-and-shoulders easier to read than a 100% written-out pattern.  So, without further ado- let’s look at a chart.

laura-chart-c-plainThis is a little chart from my new pattern, the Laura Shawl!  (It’s the narrow, textured stripe, in-between the big cables.)52162220_21Let’s look at the main parts of this chart.  At the top, you’ll see the chart name- this is important if you’re working a project that uses several charts.  For example, the Laura Shawl uses 5 separate charts, this is the third (C) one.  And, at the bottom (or sometimes to the side), you’ll find a key which explains what the symbols mean (I’ll explain that in more detail later).laura-chart-c-title-and-keyThen, along the left and right sides, you’ll find row numbers.  And, on the bottom, you’ll see the stitch numbers.laura-chart-c-rows-and-stsYou’ll notice that the row numbers go from bottom to top (ie.  1 is on the bottom).  This is because you’re going to knit from the bottom to the top.  That way, when you finish knitting the chart, you’ll be able to hold up your knitting next to the chart and you should see something that looks similar to the chart (in other words, it shouldn’t be upside-down or mirrored).laura-chart-c-knitting-directionThis chart is meant to be knit flat, and I can tell that because the row numbers alternate sides.  (1 is on the right, 2 is on the left, etc.)  laura-chart-c-rowsThe beginning of your row is marked by the row number.  So, Row 1 starts at the right and goes to the left.  Row 2 starts at the left and goes right.  (Just like your knitting!)laura-chart-c-row-directionNow you’ve got your bearings, it’s time to start knitting.  But what do all those little squares mean?  Each square is a stitch, and the symbol (or in this case, the color of the square) tells you how to work that square.  Do you see down in the key?  Each symbol has instructions, which include what to do on the Right Side and the Wrong side.  On odd-numbered rows (unless your pattern says otherwise), you’ll work the RS instructions.  So, for Row 1, you’ll K1, P3, K2, P3, K1.laura-chart-c-rsThen, on the even rows, you’ll use the Wrong Side instructions.  So, Row 2, you’ll P1, K3, P2, K3, P1.laura-chart-c-wsAnd, that’s basically it!  See?  It’s not so bad!  You can totally use a chart!

Next week I’ll walk you through knitting in the round using a chart (Spoiler- it’s even easier!), and how to work charted repeats.

Do you like using charts, or do you prefer written-out patterns?  Why?

Christmas Balls

It’s snowing again!

The schools I teach at had a snow day on Monday, and a two-hour late start on Tuesday.  I can only imagine what’s going to happen now that it’s snowing again!  Maybe I’ll just get the rest of the week off (one can hope, right?).   (It’s amazing how much of a Seattleite I’ve become.  The first sign of flurries, and I go into full-blown hibernation mode.  Growing up in the Midwest, we didn’t change our plans unless there was a good 6″ of snow in an hour, and then we just drove a little slower.)

And what’s better than finishing up some of Arne and Carlos’ Christmas Balls on a snowy morning?

51jEZkkM8SL._SX379_BO1,204,203,200_[1]My mom gave me a copy of this adorable book for Christmas (thanks Mom!), and I’ve knit up a couple balls since the holidays.  They’re fun, quick, and don’t use too much yarn (though I did manage to run through my stash of red and white DK wool- I’ve got to order some more).img_4559These little guys are really fun if you want to practice your colorwork in the round.  They have dozens of different designs, and they even include a blank chart in the back of the book if you want to get fancy and design your own patterns!img_4576Of course, finishing is a little fiddly (but any small colorwork project is going to be a bit fiddly).  I sat down with the newest episode of Victoria and a cup of tea, and I had all three of these balls finished before the episode was over.

img_4601Now my only problem is that I want to make about three dozen more, so that next year my Christmas tree will be decorated only with these lovely guys!

Have you made Christmas ornaments before?  What’s your favorite?

Snow Day Knitting

It’s a Snow Day!

There’s three inches of snow on the ground, the roads are slushy, buses are on limited routes (my husband’s bus has been totally canceled, so he’s staying home too!) and school has been canceled!

It’s a real, honest-to-goodness snow day.img_4542Seattle really does snow the best way, It’s here for a day or two, everyone has fun, takes walks, builds snowmen, then it all melts and we go back to normal.  None of this Midwestern snow-that-sticks-around-gray-and-frozen-until-mid-March nonsense.

I know all this Seattle snow is probably one of the signs of the apocalypse, but today I’m enjoying it.  I already took the dog on a walk, I’ve got a hot cup of coffee and I’m thinking about breaking out a movie and some knitting (surprise!).  Ollie loves the snow, but doesn’t love how his fur creates little snowballs all around his feet.  I love that though, it looks like he has little pompoms in his fur.   Adorable!img_4536I’ve got some socks I’m probably going to go work on after this, but if I had planned for more snow-day-appropriate knitting projects, I might have picked one of these:

I love the little frolicking deer in this snowy forest!  It reminds me of cross-country skiing in West Virginia as a kid.

Snow Roe Deer Beanie by Sandra Jagersnow_roe_deer_beanie0_medium1This snowflake shawl is almost too pretty for words (but I bet it would take quite a few snow days to complete.

 Snow Queen Shawl by Janine Le Crasyarma_medium21And, nothing says “Scandinavian snow day” quite like red-and-white color work mittens.  I think I might need these.

Snow Ghost Mittens by Aimee Alexandercontrast_medium21How’s the weather by you?  Have you had any snow days this winter?

Pattern: Rippling Diamonds!

Guys! I’ve got another free pattern!

It’s a fantastic (if I say so myself) dishcloth.

The Rippling Diamonds Dishcloth is crazy simple- it’s literally only knits and purls.  No slipped stitches, no yarn overs, no shaping of any kind.  Its carefully charted pattern of knit and purl bumps make an interestingly-textured washcloth that’s fun (and easy!) to work up.  (And, bonus!  The pattern is totally reversible, so it looks just as cool from both sides!)55883220Head over to Knit Picks’ website and download a free copy of the pattern.  I’m really proud of it!

Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit

It’s the first of the month!  Time for rabbits!

What? You don’t do that in your house?

OK, well, that doesn’t surprise me, because it’s a really weird superstition.  Supposedly, whoever is the first to say “Rabbit” or “Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit” on the first of the month is supposed to have good luck.  (Or, if you’re super competitive, like my husband and I, the first one to text/say/leave a note saying “Rabbit” gets to “win” for that month.)

I’m not sure where we picked up this habit, but we’ve been doing it for years.  It wasn’t from when we were kids (because when I was a kid, my brother and I would to do “A pinch and a punch for the first of the month,” until our mom had to ban it because we kept trying to beat each other up).  According to Wikipedia, it’s a British superstition from around the turn of the century, but that doesn’t shed much light on where I picked it up.

Anyway, let’s try to get extra-good luck by starting off this month talking about rabbit-themed patterns!

I love these wee little rabbits- look at their adorable little ears!  How cute!

Dutch Rabbits by Rachel Borello Carrollimg_8726_medium21And this blanket is unbelievably sweet (and probably lucky, too)!

Bunny Blanket by Martin Storeybunny_20blanket_20255x340_medium1This little bunny is just full of personality- I think he looks like he’s plotting some mischief.

Boy bunny with a piebald patch by Julie Williamsboy_bunnyetsy_medium21Do you have a silly first-of-the-month superstition?

Help!!

I don’t know if you do this, but every time I finish a big project (especially if it’s a big project that I had to finish on a deadline), my mind goes entirely blank.

Like, it’s just static. *bzzzxzxzzxbbxbxzzz*  Nothing happening in there.

My brain is buzzing right now (and not in the good “I’ve got a million great ideas” way).  I just finished a big, purple, stockinette thing for a design I’ve been working on for the last month, and now I’ve got a couple weeks to knit something “for myself” before my next work project comes along.6e96ba2c-468a-4b0a-b19a-f42b4ab60fe3I think it must be something about pouring all your focus, attention, and  creative drive into one specific project.  Focusing so intensely that you don’t think about your “next steps” as you go.  I used to get the same feeling after finals in college.  My mind would totally empty for a day or two after, and I’d just bounce around campus, trying to find something to do.

I’ve spent the morning looking at Ravelry, but nothing is sticking.  Maybe I’ll look through the craft books I got for Christmas- maybe I’ll find something cool in there?  Or maybe I’ll just spend the day glaring at my yarn, and hoping it develops the ability to speak and tells me what I should make next.img_4518Am I the only one?  (Probably not- if you ask that, you’re not the only one, as a rule.) What do you do to break through the “just finished a project” zone-out?

Inspiration: Feminists

Some day, this blog will go back to being a silly knitting-only blog where we just talk about patterns and yarn.  But today is not that day!  I’m still all riled up about the election, and still energized by the March.  So, today let’s look at knitting patterns inspired by three totally amazing feminists.

First up is Susan B. Anthony, suffragette, abolitionist, and OG badass.  From the time she was a teenager, Anthony was involved in what today we’d call “grass roots activism.”  She collected anti-slavery petitions for the American Anti-Slavery Society.  And, when she wasn’t allowed to join other political groups because she was female, she and Elizabeth Cady Stanton (another amazing early feminist), founded their own groups like the Women’s Loyal National League (an abolitionist group), and the New York Women’s State Temperance Society so they could keep fighting.  Then, in the late 1860s, they founded the American Equal Rights Association, which campaigned for equal rights for everyone (including women and African Americans!), and went on to found more activist groups, working for women’s suffrage.  She didn’t just talk about suffrage, either!  In 1872, as an act of civil disobedience, she voted in her hometown and was arrested and convicted at trial.  Unfortunately, she didn’t survive to see the 19th amendment passed (that’s the one that gives women the right to vote), but she is still remembered by women across the country every time they get to vote.220px-susan_b_anthony_c1855Next time you go vote, ladies, remember Susan B. Anthony, and maybe bring along this very cute bag.

Vote Tote by Deb Richeyeco5_vote_tote_op_medium1So, you know how most families these days have two, maybe three kids?  Not seventeen, like they used to have back in the 1800s?  You can thank Margaret Sanger for that!  She was a nurse and birth control activist who did amazing work in the early part of the 20th century.  When Sanger started work as a nurse, the best form of legal birth control available was basically crossing your fingers and wishing really hard.  She was prosecuted several times for distributing information about family planning, and once had to flee to England to avoid arrest.  She founded the first birth control clinic in the US in 1916, and worked tirelessly to give every woman access to safe birth control (so they wouldn’t have to depend on dangerous back-alley abortions).  In 1921, she founded the American Birth Control League which later changed its name to become Planned Parenthood (heard of it?), which she lead until 1959.220px-margaretsanger-underwood-locCelebrate your access to safe and effective healthcare by knitting up a very cute little nurse doll!

Red Cross Nurse Doll by Joanna Marshallred_cross_nurse___florence_nightingale__6__medium21And, finally, this tough lady needs no introduction these days.  Hillary Clinton has led a life full of political activism, from when she was a young lawyer working for children and family rights, all the way through the 2016 presidential election (and, I’m sure she’ll keep working!). When she was First Lady, she used her position to help fight for healthcare reform and gender equality.  She served as the first female senator to New York- even getting re-elected!  Then, she teamed up with former election opponent, Barack Obama, working as his Secretary of State.  And, of course, in 2016, she won the majority of the popular vote for president.  Talk about a powerful feminist!hillary_clinton_official_secretary_of_state_portrait_cropMake yourself a blazer, just like Secretary Clinton wears!

108-27 Jacket with structured pattern by DROPS design

a-168-2_medium21Who are your favorite feminists?