My Stitch Note­book: Chart Read­ing 101

Knit­ters know how easy it is to cre­ate a nearly in­fi­nite num­ber of stitch com­bi­na­tions by us­ing ba­sic knits, purls, yarn overs and de­creases. In this first work­shop, you will learn how to master read­ing these stitches in knit­ting charts, em­pow­er­ing you to

Creative Knitting - - CONTENTS - By Melissa Leap­man

This Stitch Note­book se­ries will present a col­lec­tion of new and tra­di­tional stitch pat­terns writ­ten from a de­signer’s per­spec­tive. With each new in­stall­ment, we’ll walk you through all the essen­tials re­quired for ex­e­cut­ing spe­cific knit­ting tech­niques (such as ca­bles, mo­saic pat­terns or nov­elty tex­tures) and will in­clude a project to en­cour­age you to try the pat­terns.

In this first in­stall­ment, you’ll learn how to read charts from the ground floor up so you can master this use­ful way to read knit­ting pat­terns. This skill will help you be­come more visu­ally at­tuned when work­ing stitch pat­terns. Writ­ten pat­terns, although help­ful for dou­ble-check­ing your work, can be cum­ber­some be­cause the eye tends to get lost in all those words and ab­bre­vi­a­tions. Charts, on the other hand, are com­pact and easy to fol­low once you get the hang of read­ing them.

Chart Smart

Our first fo­cus will be lacy open­work pat­terns. But be­fore we get started, let’s re­view how to read and use stitch charts.

Knit­ting pat­terns are of­ten pre­sented in chart form. At first glance, charts and their sym­bols might seem like a mys­te­ri­ous se­cret code or a for­eign lan­guage, but they’re easy to trans­late and use.

Each square of the charted grid rep­re­sents one stitch or ma­neu­ver, and ev­ery row of squares cor­re­sponds with one row of knit­ting. You’ll read the chart start­ing with Row 1 at the bot­tom and work your way up in the same way that you knit, i.e. by cast­ing on at the bot­tom of the fab­ric and build­ing the pat­tern­ing up from there.

A chart’s right-side rows are read in the same or­der that the stitches present them­selves to you on the left-hand nee­dle, i.e. from right to left (Fig­ure 1).

Each square of the grid will con­tain a sym­bol to rep­re­sent the knit­ting ma­neu­ver used to cre­ate its stitch. Of­ten, these sym­bols re­sem­ble the way the stitches will ap­pear on the pub­lic side of the fin­ished fab­ric. A blank box, for ex­am­ple, sym­bol­izes smooth, flat stock­inette stitch, while the dash sym­bol rep­re­sents the bumpy hor­i­zon­tal purl stitch. Easy!

All rows in charts are shown as they ap­pear on the pub­lic side of the fab­ric.

There­fore, sym­bols mean dif­fer­ent things on right-side and wrong-side rows. The blank box, for in­stance, rep­re­sents a knit stitch on a right-side row, but if you’re on a wrong-side row and want the stitch to ap­pear as a knit stitch on the flip side of the fab­ric, you’ll purl it, thereby cre­at­ing smooth stock­inette stitch fab­ric. But don’t worry. If a sym­bol is used on both right- and wrong-side rows of the chart, a stitch key nearby will tell you what to do on both sides. There’s no need to mem­o­rize any­thing!

Some­times, you’ll see a bold or col­ored box or ver­ti­cal lines on a chart. These are graphic de­vices that out­line the pat­tern re­peat and func­tion much like the as­ter­isks in writ­ten in­struc­tions. For ex­am­ple, in the Lace B stitch pat­tern in the No­bis Wrap on page 34, a red frame sur­rounds eight stitches and eight rows with one col­umn of stitches out­side to the left. This in­di­cates that the pat­tern re­peat is a mul­ti­ple of 8 stitches + 1. The ex­tra col­umn of stitches helps bal­ance the pat­tern so it’s cen­tered on the fab­ric. It’s worked once per row— as the last stitch of a right­side row or as the first stitch of a wrong-side row—while the stitches within the box may be re­peated sev­eral times across a row.

Lace Stitch Pat­terns

Open­work is the ideal fab­ric for light­weight, sum­mer­time knit­ting. It is cre­ated by in­ten­tion­ally mak­ing dec­o­ra­tive holes within the knit­ting. In or­der to keep the stitch count con­stant, ev­ery yarn over must be com­pen­sated for with a de­crease. Some de­creases slant left, some lean to the right, and oth­ers ap­pear per­fectly ver­ti­cal, depend­ing on the tech­nique used; they cre­ate the fas­ci­nat­ing struc­ture and pat­terns of lace knit­ting. The three lace pat­terns used in the No­bis Wrap are both charted and writ­ten out. Prac­tice read­ing the charts by cast­ing on the ap­pro­pri­ate num­ber of stitches for the given pat­tern (based on the stitch mul­ti­ple), then work­ing a swatch from the chart. Dou­blecheck your work by com­par­ing the chart to the text ver­sion. For ex­am­ple, the Lace A pat­tern is a mul­ti­ple of 8 stitches + 9, so cast on ei­ther 17, 25 or 33 stitches for the pat­tern plus 4 more stitches for 2-stitch edg­ings on ei­ther side of the lace pat­tern. The more stitches you cast on, the wider the re­sult­ing piece of fab­ric. This is how I turned the No­bis Wrap—which was orig­i­nally a scarf—into a nice, comfy shawl.

You can knit the No­bis Wrap as is, show­cas­ing all three lace stitch pat­terns learned, or bring out your “in­ner de­signer” and cus­tom­ize it by plug­ging in just your fa­vorite of the three lace pat­terns. Or feel free to make it your own by adjusting the size of each lace sec­tion. The op­tions are un­lim­ited and are to­tally up to what­ever you can dream up. En­joy!

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