Reading charted stitch patterns

Charts use a square to represent each stitch and a symbol inside the square to indicate how to work the stitch. Although there's no universal set of symbols, each pattern that uses a chart also provides a key to reading it. Always begin by finding the key to the chart.

The trick to reading chart patterns without getting confused is to remember that you don't read them from top to bottom and left to right as you would a book. Instead, you read a chart from the bottom up because it shows the knitted piece as it's knitted, and in nearly all knitting, you knit from the bottom up. Whether you read from right to left or left to right depends on the row you're working:

l Right-side rows: You read from right to left. l Wrong-side rows: You read from left to right.

Charts represent the pattern of the knitted fabric as you're looking at it — the right side of the fabric. This means that on wrong-side rows (from left to right) you must purl any stitch that has a knit symbol and knit any stitch that has a purl symbol. This switch isn't difficult once you get the hang of it, and the pattern key will remind you. Of course, if you're knitting in the round, you can follow the chart without worrying about whether you have the wrong side or right side of the fabric facing. See Chapter 8 for more about knitting in the round.

Figure 3-1 shows a very simple chart. In fact, it's the same pattern as the K2, p2 pattern from the preceding section.

Row 2

Figure 3-1:

Presenting pattern instructions in chart form.

□ Knit on the right side Purl on the wrong side

BPurl on the right side Knit on the wrong side

Row 1

Because of the way they can condense complicated stitches and techniques into simple symbols, charts often are used for lacework, cables, and other patterns that incorporate special effects, such as bobbles and scallops, to save space. And they're indispensable for intarsia, Fair Isle, and other multicolor techniques. Figure 3-2 shows what a chart for a repeating color pattern may look like for a sweater pattern.

If the design uses a repeating pattern, as the one in Figure 3-2 does, the chart generally shows a single or double repeat and not the whole garment piece. Unless the number of stitches in the piece you're making is an exact multiple of the repeat, you'll have to begin and end on a part of the repeat. The chart tells you where to begin knitting the repeat.

^ If you don't have a magnetic board with strips (see Chapter 2 for an explanation of this handy tool), buy the longest self-stick notepads you can find and [#Ojl keep them with your knitting project. Use them to keep track of your place on the chart by sticking them along the row above the row you're currently working on. Seeing only the rows on the chart that you've already worked helps you to orient yourself.

Figure 3-2:

Sample chart for a repeating color motif.

16-stitch repeat ■

End size small and size large

Begin size small and size large

End size medium Key

Begin size medium mn

When reading charts, pay careful attention to the key provided. Various publishers, designers, and charting software programs may chart the exact same stitch or series of stitches using different symbols.

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