Tag Archives: knitting chart

Off (or on) the Map

I get emails on a fairly regular basis asking me why I use charts in my patterns instead of just writing out the instructions.  I try to explain why I prefer charts over written instructions (they are easier to read, they give you a visual representation of what the finished pattern should look like, etc), but I feel like I’ve never had a really good, succinct explanation.  Until now.

I was chatting with a friend about charts vs. written instructions (like you do), and she had an amazing analogy.  An analogy I’d like to share with you.

The year is 1998.  The Barenaked Ladies, Destiny’s Child and Brittney Spears are on the radio, Armageddon is in the movie theaters, and I’m in middle school.  You’re planning on taking a road trip (while listening to your new NSYNC CD in your very high-tech car CD player), and you need directions. 541c9257a84d7.image

You boot up the modem and go to Mapquest for driving directions.  After 45 minutes (which seems very fast), you’ve downloaded and printed out your instructions.  You’re ready to go.

 

You hop in the car, follow your instructions.  Left on Aurora, right on 145th, take the northbound on-ramp, drive 5 miles, get off at Exit 220.  But wait, there is no Exit 220!  Where’s Exit 220?  I thought I was supposed to be on the freeway?  Why am I in the middle of a neighborhood? What happened?

You don’t have a map with you, because you didn’t need it- you had your Mapquest directions.  Sure you could retrace your steps, carefully make your way back home and try following the directions again, but that’s a lot of work.  You’re lost.  You’ve got to cross your fingers that you can find a friendly gas station attendant to give you new directions.CaptureNow imagine you’re on that same road trip, but this time you’ve got a map (or better yet, you’ve got a map and your instructions).  If you get off track, you can pull over, find your cross street and figure out your location.  Sure, reading the map might be a little tricky, but in the long run you know you won’t ever be stranded like you were with just the instructions.

Knitting is the same way.  Sure, if you’re knitting with only written instructions, and you follow the instructions exactly to the letter, you’ll end up with a beautiful garment.  But let’s be honest, when’s the last time you knit a garment without a single mistake?  (I can’t say I’ve ever done that.)  And once you’ve made a mistake, all you have is a big block of text that you have to wade through to figure out where you went wrong- not easy.Capture1If you’re using a chart, on the other hand, you can usually tell much more quickly where you went wrong.  Maybe there’s a yarn over where there should be, a section of lace that is missing a stitch, or a cable that’s been crossed the wrong direction (the bane of my existence).  Because a chart gives you a birds-eye view of what your project should look like, it’s easier to figure out what’s going on, where you went wrong, and ultimately how to fix it.

I know charts aren’t for everybody (just like some people will never be able to read a map, no matter how hard they try), but if you’re on the fence about trying a charted pattern, give it a go!  You might like it!

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!

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?