Reading Stitch Patterns

Directions for stitch patterns can be given in two different ways: written form and chart form. Written instructions tell you what to do with the stitches in each row as you come to them, whereas a chart shows a picture of each stitch and how it's worked. Some people prefer written instructions, and others like to follow a graphed "picture" of the pattern. Nowadays, the trickier the pattern, the more likely it is to be charted out. Not true for vintage patterns, however. Being familiar with both ways of describing a pattern enables you to convert a chart into written instructions if you find it easier to work with words and, conversely, to convert a convoluted set of written instructions into graph form.

Stitch patterns are based on repeats — both stitch repeats and row repeats. A given stitch sequence repeats horizontally across a row. A series of rows of given stitch sequences repeats vertically. Together they make up a stitch pattern that determines what your knitted fabric will look like: smooth, bumpy, cabled, or striped.

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