How to use charts

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ContinentalCat
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How to use charts

Postby ContinentalCat » Sun Apr 04, 2010 12:04 pm

Vonnie's question about blank squares on a chart inspired me to put up a few tips. Hopefully this will be useful to everyone who wants to use a chart, and please add your own tips and tricks!

A few basics:

Charts are a visual representation of a pattern. They are used for lace, cabling and colourwork, but you could present every pattern as a chart. Each square represents a stitch, each row represents a row.

Charts for patterns worked flat usually have odd numbers on the right side of the chart (1, 3, 5 and so on) and even numbers on the left side (2, 4, 6). These numbers indicate the row. A chart is read right to left on odd rows and from left to right on even rows.
So, row 1 starts at the right hand bottom, row 2 starts at the left. You could say you 'weave' or 'plough' your way through the chart.

If you're knitting an odd row, you're on the right side (RS) of your knitting. If you're working the even row, you're on the wrong side (WS).
Note: some patterns have a row 0 as a set-up row. Check if row 1 is meant as a RS or WS row. Sometimes row 1 is a wrong side, so make sure to read your pattern carefully.

The symbols on the chart can vary from pattern to pattern, so always check the key. Usually,
a blank square is a knit stitch
a dot is a purl stitch
a circle is a yarn over
a slash and back slash is a decrease (k2tog or SSK).
a grey square is 'no stitch'.
These symbols are by no means universal, so watch out!

On some charts, you see vertical lines, sometimes in colour, that indicate a repeat. This means you have to knit the stitches between those lines several times more, as indicated in the pattern.
There can be horizontal lines, too, indicating a horizontal repeat. This means you have to knit the rows between the repeats lines several times more, as indicated in the pattern.

With complicated charts, stitch markers are a must. You can put them between repeats, or at every ten, twenty, fifty stitches. You don't have to have fancy markers, a small elastic band or a piece of scrap yarn works too. Also, consider putting in a lifeline at the end of every repeat.

There are several ways to keep track of where you are on the chart: cross out the rows you've done (make a photocopy, of course!), use removable tape, use a magnetic board, whatever works best for you. Sometimes it can be helpful to highlight repeat rows or the stitches where you've placed a marker.

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Re: How to use charts

Postby Tricotine » Sun Apr 04, 2010 3:00 pm

This is a very helpful resume, Continental Cat. Thank you :smile:

May I suggest that a dot is often knit on wrong side and purl on right side.

Here is a picture of a magnetic board in use:

Clicky:

Image

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Re: How to use charts

Postby ContinentalCat » Sun Apr 04, 2010 3:50 pm

Tricotine wrote:May I suggest that a dot is often knit on wrong side and purl on right side.

Yes, excellent point! Most keys explain this, but make sure to check.

Also, even rows are often not charted when they are all purl; that's why lace charts for shawls often show row 1, 3, 5 and so on. And because they are all odd rows, they should be read all from right to left.

I've made a few examples using this simple, free chart generator:

606

These blank squares are knit stitches, so this chart is all knit, on row one and row two. So it's 2 rows of garter stitch.

607
This is stockinette: all knit on the RS, all purl (dots) on the wrong side.

609
The little 'o' is a yarn over, the 'backslash' next to it is a ssk.

If you feel uncomfortable using charts, a bit of playing around with a chart generator might help; it's a great way of getting used to the symbols.

KnitVisualizer is an exellent tool, but very expensive; you can download a demo version for free to play with. It won't let you save or print your chart, but it is very useful for 'chart practice'. Here's an example of a screenshot.

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Re: How to use charts

Postby Tricotine » Sun Apr 04, 2010 4:05 pm

The free chart creator is brilliant, THANK YOU, CC!

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Re: How to use charts

Postby madge » Sun Apr 04, 2010 8:45 pm

Thank you very much for this info. I made a top last year that had a band of this type of pattern round the bottom and cuffs. I ended up making it plain as I couldn't understand what was required, I might give it another go now,
thanks again,
madge x

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Re: How to use charts

Postby kai » Sun Apr 04, 2010 8:54 pm

I'm going to turn this into a Sticky so that we don't lose it. :)
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Re: How to use charts

Postby hydra » Sun Apr 04, 2010 10:05 pm

Thanks for the tips!

ContinentalCat wrote:There are several ways to keep track of where you are on the chart: cross out the rows you've done (make a photocopy, of course!), use removable tape, use a magnetic board, whatever works best for you. Sometimes it can be helpful to highlight repeat rows or the stitches where you've placed a marker.


My little tip:

I have used coloured pens to colour a particular stitch on the chart. I often get the backward (\) and forward (/) slashes confused so found it helped alot when I coloured them in!
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Re: How to use charts

Postby Fluzz » Mon Apr 05, 2010 12:44 am

My tips:

I use a red pen to mark every 5 stitches and 5 rows over a copy of the chart. That way I can easily see how many stitches are between points on the chart.

Before I got my magnetic board (e.g http://www.p2tog.com/ourshop/prod_55451 ... Small.html) I used to go over with a highlighter and highlight the Wrong Side rows.

If you're doing a double-knitting pattern (reversible colourwork) then it's useful to mark which direction has which colour facing you. SO if I'm doing a longcat scarf where the background is white on one side and black on the other I will put an arrow for the direction of knitting and then write "white background" for when that side shows and "black background" for the other way. Sounds complicated but you'll know what I mean if you try it.

If you're making your own colourwork chart that has black squares I find it easier to either leave them blank or put in a "B" rather than colour them black, colouring them can hide the lines and make it hard to count.

Cables can be really hard to read at first, it's hard to count how many stitches each one covers and which way it's going, I take time beforehand to colour-code my cables. Saved me many a botch.

FInally:
Pencil crayons! I find felt-tip can be too....harsh... on my chart and make it hard to read, pencil crayons still colour but can be seen through to the grid.
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Re: How to use charts

Postby Vonnie » Mon Apr 05, 2010 10:49 am

Thank you so much for all this information.
It will be very useful to all new chart users. :smile:
VONNIE

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Re: How to use charts

Postby ContinentalCat » Mon Apr 05, 2010 3:54 pm

I agree on the colour coding, that has helped me a lot when doing more intricate patterns with different types of cables.

If you have pattern with lots of knit stitches (blank squares) between lace or cables, count the knit ones before you start and write the number of stitches in one of the squares between the motifs - saves you from checking time and time again whether it was 8 or 9 knit stitches you have to do!

Sharon Miller of Heirloom Knitting has a very useful Beginner's Guide to Lace on her page; even if you never want to do lace, it is an interesting read because it tells you more about the charts. The Heirloom Knitting book (a must have for everyone who's into Shetland lace) also offers more about charts and how to read them.


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