More questions from my inbox:

Can you use the same type ofchartedpattern for knitting?

Why not? It’s a plain graph. You can use anycharted pattern for knitting, darned net, embroidery, colorwork or filet crochet so long as you understand the proportions of the units your chosen craft employs. Even though the original was graphed in square units, my units are rectangles. As a result, my piece is a bit squashed left to right because my units are wider than they are tall, and I worked across the piece’s short dimension. Had I worked the long way across, my dragon and George would have been squashed top to bottom instead.

By carefully choosing the direction of one’s work one can either minimize the effect of non-square units, or employ it as a design feature. Here’s a cross-stitch embroidery I did on white muslin. The original graph was square. The muslin’s weave wasn’t. The flower units end up being squashed top to bottom, but that turned into a design feature.

There are some ways around the problem if you want to work a square graph on a non-square medium but want to preserve the original height:width ratio. Depending on their gauge, some knitters replicate every third or fourth row when working from a square unit chart. This practice is built on the premise that knitting stitches are usually wider than they are tall (more rows than stitches per inch). Others use drafting software with layering capabilities, importing the original chart, then overlaying a custom grid built to their stitch height:width ratio, finally knitting or crocheting off the new gridding. Finally, some people manipulate their craft to produce units that are more square. For example, I’ve seen some knitters take graphs and translate each box unit into a unit of 2 stitches x 3 rows. While that "blows up" the design, making it a much larger piece than would working one stitch per one charted square, it usually does produce a result that is more visually true to the original.

Me? I don’t bother regraphing. I play with the ratios and pattern placement instead. For example, the Knot A Hat headband on wiseNeedle is worked from a square unit graph (available as a *.pdf via link on the pattern page).

My knitted version is elongated along the length because my stitches are like most stockinette – wider than they are tall. But I don’t care. I think the design’s stretch isn’t out of place and until I pointed it out, you probably wouldn’t have noticed.

How did you get your mesh to look so even?

The same way you get to Carnagie Hall – practice, practice, practice. [grin] Seriously, in crochet just like inknitting one gets used to the hand motions of making a stitch, and providing the optimal tension on the thread becomes second nature. I find if I concentrate on keeping things even, they go all to hell, but if I relax and just do the work – my stitches are all the same size. Some crochet beginnersstrangle the hook, pulling the loops way too tight and making the formation of stitches more difficult than it should be. Others make their stitches waaaay up the needle’s shaft where the shank gets wider to accommodate gripping. Those folks often end up with loose, irregularstitches as their too-big loops are distorted by the actions of making a stitch. Again, not to be a smart-ass – but practice and patience are key.

Filet looks nifty. I didn’t know crochet did more than granny square blankets. What other types are there? Where can I learn more?

There are all sorts of crochet books out there. Not as many as there are knitting books, it’s true, but there are quite a few. Some are pattern collections, some are technique instruction books, and some are toss-the-rules and be creative sources of general inspiration and encouragement. Crochet history however is harder to come by.

The best source of info on crochet history and styles I’ve got is Lis Paludan’s Crochet: History and Technique. It’s a fair size tome that details not only crochet’s murky historical beginnings, also covers how the craft developed over time. It gives copious illustrations of various styles, mostly fromengravings and other period sources,and even has a nifty how-to section in the back. Unfortunately it appears to be in rather limited supply, although I still see copies at the original retail price on bookstore and needlework specialty store shelves. It’s also pretty well represented on library shelves. [Reminder to self: Add rider to homeowner’s insurance to cover out of print needlework book collection!]

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