27 March 2012

Knitting off the chart

Susannah's SocksSusannah's Socks

They're done. Susannah's socks. Don't they look fantastic?! I love them. I hope they keep her feet nice and toasty.

You'll remember that I used Cookie A.'s pattern Angee. It is a great pattern, I can recommend it. Easy to follow and interesting, without being too totally tricky.

And, the best part? The charts. For the non-knitters among you, charts are a way of writing knitting patterns using symbols instead of words. They're sometimes called graphs.
wire_monkey
Image: wire_monkey by SuperOddity @ Flickr

I can see some of your faces. What is THAT!

I get it. I too have stayed well clear of these confusing squares. All those dots and slashes?! You have to be joking. All I want to do is knit. Not crack codes. It seemed too hard. So, I've stuck to written patterns; k2tog, p1 and all that. I haven't tried knitting charts. But, with Angee I was forced to try. It's ONLY written as a chart. Crumbs.

So learn I did. And, I am hooked! I'm going to tell you the basics, so that you can have a go too.

There is a method to reading these things that at first is not obvious. Well it wasn't to me.
They start at the BOTTOM. Actually, the bottom right. Find number 1 (if you are lucky enough to get numbers) and work your way across to the left. Stitch by stitch. Each square represents a stitch and each line a row of knitting. With me?

Somewhere on your pattern there will be a key to the symbols on the chart. Study it! Symbols vary from designer to designer.
There seem to be no universal knitting symbols, although the US Craft Council has a list of standardised symbols used by members. They say these are the easiest symbols to follow. I figure, as long as you have a handy reference to what your pattern's symbols are, you'll be okay!

knit
Image: Knit by Jothina at Flickr
The other thing to note is that the symbols represent the stitch as it appears on the right side of your work. So, when you are working on the wrong side, follow the chart from left to right and knit the opposite of what is written. That means, where you see knit, purl it and vice versa.

Hmmm slightly confusing. I agree. Hang in there!

Charts for flat knitting usually number the rows on each side of the chart to help you out. Odd numbers on the right, even numbers on the left.
It makes the chart easier to follow. Just remember to knit the opposite of what is written when you are working the even rows from left to right. Apparently this gets easier once you are in the groove...and the beauty of charts is that they show you the pattern as it is supposed to look.

Since my socks were knitted in the round, I just knit exactly what was written and every row from right to left.

It's more straightforward to knit from a chart when you are knitting in the round. I think it's a good idea to practice with a pair of socks (or a hat)! Not only are they in the round, they are small!

Sock Prayer Flags.
Image: Sock prayer flags by Knitting Iris at Flickr


Overall, I loved the charts. What a revelation!

When I lost bunches of stitches during the runaway baby episode I unpicked back to a full row and it was super easy to compare my stitches to the chart to see what row I was on (I'm not saying it was quick...). My knitting told me which stitches I had already knit, and checking against my chart told me which row it was.

And, if I got distracted and muddled during a row, I could refer to the chart to see what the stitches were on the row below the row I was on. That way I could check I was knitting the right stitches in the right places. Jolly fantastic.

Apparently, beautiful Japanese patterns use charts all the time, making it possible for us non-Japanese speakers to follow them. I'm thinking that might be a good challenge!

And, I've got a good tip: stick a post-it note just under the row you are working. Move it up with each row. It helps to see where you are, and it won't fall off.

So, have a go with charts! They'll change the way you knit!

Do you use charts? What do you think? Do you have any tips?

Susannah's Socks

And, finally, Did you notice my socks were blocked?  Yip. Lovely Mr Myrtle made me some sock blockers! I haven't blocked socks before, but these were lacey socks and I wanted the holes nice and open so they looked their best for Susannah.

Sock blockers are easy to make. I lay the socks on 8mm (1/3") plywood and drew around them with a bit of a margin, adding a bit of length in the leg. Mr Myrtle cut them out with his tools and sanded the rough edges. You could also use thick foam card and cut them out with scissors.

To block the socks, I washed them in a little soapy water, rolled them up in a towel and stood on it. I then eased each sock up the wooden blockers and lay them on a towel to dry, turning once or twice. It's made such a difference!

Happy birthday Suse! They're in the post! X


33 comments:

  1. Mr. Myrtle, what a great guy, making you sock blockers! Lucky lady! I LOVE using charts when I knit. Like most, I was stand-offish at first and intimidated, but really, they change your LIFE! I think a good chart holder is helpful on complex patterns, but sometimes, I just use a post-it note(s) to mark my place. Gets the job done.

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    1. I just need sock blockers in large and small now : )

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  2. Fab socks, very clever. And well done to Mr Myrtle for the blockers - genius. I wish I could knit well. I'm tempted to try socks but they scare me a little. I like my craft uncomplicated :)

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    1. Do try Dillytante! Start with some lovely yarn and a plain stockinette stitch - it is truly like magic and not nearly as hard as you think. Perhaps we should have a socks knit-a-long?

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  3. Next you'll be into lace knitting that uses all kinds of crazy charts! I think you'll love that just as much as you love the sock charts! The socks turned out amazing. Doesn't Cookie A write great patterns?

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    1. Thanks Erin - I'm itching to try some of her other patterns now...maybe for me???!

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  4. Those socks look fantastic! I actually rather like charts with my knitting. I use the post-it method to keep my place.
    And Mr. Myrtle is the best! I think I'll try my hand at making sock blockers.

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  5. They look awsome, can't wait to get them on my feet, it has just started getting cold here and last night I was thinking I am going to have to fish out my slippers, so they are going to be useds. Nice work Mr Myrtle combined Present.

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  6. You make those lovely socks sound so easy! I never thought of foam for sock blockers and I have an old yoga mat for just such an occasion....will get right onto them. Thank you, BTW beautiful socks :-)

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    1. Thanks! Great idea - a yoga mat would be perfect!

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  7. Those are a very lovely pair of socks. The yarn has a great texture! I am now very excited to get started on a CookieA pattern of my own someday.

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    1. Thanks Pumpkin - one day I might have to commission you to spin me some beautiful yarn to knit socks with! I highly recommend Cooke's first book - quite like to get my hands on the second!

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  8. Those socks are lovely. I like how you explain the chart. I tried a Cookie A. pattern once and it ended in fail (and frogging!). But it was a lot harder than this one. You give me new hope, maybe I'll try again.

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    1. Thanks Lisa, Definitely try again - Angee is a good one! I'd like to knit her monkey socks too - they look lovely.

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  9. So cute! I'm following:) I hope you'll share this at my link party, running now through Saturday night! :)
    http://www.gratefulbelly.com/2012/03/whats-new-wednesday-two-and-give-away.html

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    1. Thanks Kristin! I'll pop over now...:)

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  10. The socks are fabulous and such a gorgeous shade of blue. Knitting is my favourite crafty thing - but I've never used a chart. You make it sound less daunting than I imagined, so maybe time to have a go!

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    1. Thanks Single! Using the chart was not nearly as hard as I thought - in fact, I think it made this lacy pattern easier! Have a go :)

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  11. Lovely socks, indeed. Charts are very helpful, sometimes I use one, sometimes I don't. It depends on the pattern.

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    1. Thanks Babajeza! I'd like to try more charts now...just need the right pattern!

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  12. Lovely! I just took an intuitive charts class from Cookie A herself, and it was totally awesome. I have the chart bug now, too! Thanks for sharing all your tips!

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    1. Thanks Paula! Wow! I bet that was awesome!! Was it in person or on-line?

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    2. It was in person -- at Stitches West last month. She is one of those incredibly smart people who also happens to be really personable (and very patient). If you ever get the chance, I'd recommend signing up for anything she's teaching, regardless of the subject. Cheers!

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  13. Good job! Seriously, good on you for taking the plunge into the world of charts. I'm a chicken, and will do my rav search with the specification "Written Instructions." I have done charts before, and can even chart my own instructions, I just still prefer written instructions somehow.
    But it is very good news to me that Angee was easy to knit: I have those socks in my queue and just bought some perfect sock yarn...

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    1. Thanks! I didn't know that you could search like that on Ravelry?! Angee is a great pattern - go for it!

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  14. Great pictures! And such cool homemade sock blockers!

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    1. Thanks Marie! Need another pair of socks for the blockers now... :)

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  15. Gorgeous socks and you're so lucky to have someone to make you sock blockers!!!!

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    1. Thanks Sarah! I am lucky, he's a sweetie :)

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  16. The socks look amazing, the pattern and colour -just gorgeous.
    See I am a chart kinda girls - I find it easier to work with charts rather than written descriptions

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    1. Thanks Kim - they should be nearly with my sister now - they had to fly half way around the world!

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