Let’s talk about knitting charts. They’re kind of like Noro in that no one feels half way – you either love them or you hate them. Actually, I think it’s closer to the truth to say you either love them, or you don’t really understand them yet. Because charts are a tool with the power to transform your knitting.
A knitting chart is a graphical representation of your knitting. It’s like a road map for your project. It’s a visual guide, indicating the placement and type of each stitch needed to bring the pattern to life.
Now, you might ask why we use knitting charts?
There are several reasons, First, charts provide an immediate, visual picture of the design you're about to knit. They enable you to see the motif, texture, or colorwork before you even pick up your needles. This visual representation significantly reduces errors when writing and interpreting patterns.
Second, knitting charts are a universal language, bridging linguistic divides. Regardless of the language you speak or where you learned to knit, the graphical representation of the fabric is the same. And you have to admit, seeing a complex pattern laid out visually is much more digestible than navigating through a sea of instructions that look more like algebraic equations than knittng
So, how do we interpret these knitting charts?
Every chart has a key—a legend, just like a map. The legend that defines what each symbol on the chart represents. But I think the legend or key is actually more confusing, especially for knitters new to charts. For instance, a blank square on the chart will have a key that says, “knit stitch on the right side and purl stitch on the wrong side.” Similarly, a square with a black dot will say “purl stitch on the right side and knit stitch on the wrong side.” I’m sorry, but that’s enough to make anyone feel jumbled and confused.
Here’s the secret to understanding charts
A chart does not tell you whatstitchyou are making, but rather whatfabricyou are making.
That blank square means stockinette. We all know how to do stockinette. Knit on the right side, purl on the wrong side.
The square with the dot in it means reverse stockinette - purl on the right side, knit on the wrong side.
Now that we have that cleared up, let’s talk about actually following the chart.
Reading a knitting chart isn't as straightforward as reading a book from left to right, top to bottom. Instead, it requires a back-and-forth dance that mirrors the way you actually knit.
When working flat—knitting and purling in alternating rows—the chart is read from right to left on the knit (right side) rows and left to right on the purl (wrong side) rows. This might seem counterintuitive at first, but remember, you're looking at the chart in the same way you’re looking at your fabric - from right to left on the knit side and then from left to right on the purl side.
However, when knitting in the round you’re never turning your work. Every round is a right-side round, so you’re reading your chart from right to left every round, just like the direction your yarn moves. This reflects the continuous, spiral nature of knitting in the round.
It might feel a bit like learning to read all over again, but like everything else, it gets easier with practice. You might even start finding it easier to follow charts than written instructions, especially for more intricate patterns!
Every stitch, every row is a step in your creative journey, and the team at Crazy for Ewe is here to help guide your way as you use charts to create something beautiful.
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