Over the next several months, I plan to suggest how intermediate knitters can become expert knitters. When I am teaching, chart reading is the number one skill knitters need to learn to advance. Many advanced patterns lack equivalent written instructions. The main reason is the exorbitant length of written pattern needed to cover all the charts. This is true for my TKGA final project, Uplands Aran. This pattern would exceed 20 pages with written instructions!
The benefits of charts include:
1. Charts follow rules:
a. Read charts from bottom to top.
b. Each square represents a stitch, or if gray or shaded, a no stitch.
c. Read right-sided rows from right to left. Numbers on the right edge of the chart are RS rows and are usually, but not always, odd numbers.
d. Read wrong-sided rows from left to right. Numbers on the left edge of the chart are WS rows and are usually, but not always, even numbers.
e. Read all chart rows in circular knitting from right to left.
f. Red lines in charts outline a repeat.
i. When red outlines the bottom and the top only, work the repeat over length only.
ii. If red outlines the left and the right of a section, work the repeat within the row as in the example below.
iii. Red outlining the entire box instructs the knitter to work the repeat per pattern instructions over the width and the length of the knitted item.
2. Missing or erroneous stitches are obvious on a chart.
3. Chart symbols look like stitches pictured from the right side of the fabric and show what the final fabric looks like.
4. Changes in stitch numbers per row or round are seen at a glance with how decreases and increases relate to each other
When starting out using charts instead of written directions, I recommend:
1. Knitting a simple pattern in the round, avoiding what the wrong side stitch is, and reading the chart in only one direction.
2. Consider owning JC Briar’s book, Charts Made Simple. This book is fantastic, and has a quiz at the end of every chapter to test your understanding of the concepts. I still refer to this book.
If you need a knitting New Year’s resolution, make it this: be an expert chart reader! More knitting happiness will follow!