CHARTING 103 – THE STITCH THAT ISN’T THERE

We’ve covered basic charting, and charting variable width edgings. Now
for panels and insertions. Those are patterns that can be used as
accents in the main body of your piece. Sometimes they show up as
single strip scarves, sometimes several repeats of the design are
combined across to make an all-over design (occasionally fitted
together with half-drop variations), sometimes a single panel is
repeated to make a long stripe in combo with a stockinette ground,
sometimes just one vertical repeat of the design is used as a spot
accent, sometimes panels of different patterns show up side by side.
What makes them different from edging patterns is that they can be
embedded in the center of a piece, and that piece can be knit in the
round.

These insertion style patterns can have either stable or variable stitch
counts from row to row. One with a stable count (either no
increases/decreases or an equal number of increases to decreases on
every row where they occur) are graphed more or less the same way as
the pattern in Charting 101. The ones with changing stitch counts do
pose special problems.

Let’s consider this simple variable count
insertion. It’s my own write up of a simple embossed leaf inside a
framing K2, P2 rib:

Cast on 9
Row 1 (wrong side): P2, K5, P2
Row 2: K2, P2, (K,P,K in one stitch), P1, K2
Row 3: P2, K2, P3, K2, P2
Row 4: K2, P2, (K1, YO)2x, K1, P2, K2
Row 5: P2, K2, P5, K2, P2
Row 6: K2, P2, K2, YO, K1, YO, K2, P2, K2
Row 7: P2, K2, P7, K2, P2
Row 8: K2, P2, K3, YO, K1, YO, K3, P2, K2
Row 9: P2, K2, P9, K2, P2
Row 10: K2, P2, SSK, K5, K2tog, P2, K2
Row 11: P2, K2, P7, K2, P2
Row 12: K2, P2, SSK, K3, K2tog, P2, K2
Row 13: P2, K2, P5, K2, P2
Row 14: K2, P2, SSK, K1, K2tog, P2, K2
Row 15: P2, K2, P3, K2, P2
Row 16: K2, P2, K3tog, P2, K2

As you can see, the thing starts out being nine stitches across, but grows on row 9 to 17 stitches across.

How to chart? The symbol set is pretty straightforward. Each
individual row poses no problems. For example, here’s row 8:

If we normed one edge like we did with the edging patterns, we’d end up with this:

While all the info is there and this chart could be worked from, it’s
deceptive in that it looks like an edging. Plus one of charting’s prime
directives – representing knitting in a format that’s visually akin to
the finished product – has been fouled.

So. Let’s look closer at this pattern, looking for obvious points of internal symmetry or
reference. We quickly see that the thing IS symmetrical. There’s a
center stitch in every row. Let’s stack our rows on the center stitch:

That’s closer. You can begin to see the leaf shape in the center,
but the wiggly edges are still a bit confusing. Here’s another
cut at the same basic concept. This time however, I’ve lined up
not only the center stitch, but also the knit ribs that frame it:

Those gray areas? They don’t exist. Flat out aren’t
there. They’re the equivalent of the stage attendants dressed in
all black who move props around in full view of the audience during a
drama or puppet performance. You’re not supposed to see them, even
though they’re in plain sight.

The grayed out areas are spacing mechanisms introduced for the sake of
visual clarity in the rest of the pattern. They have no
correlation to stitches in the actual knitted piece. Working from
this chart, I’d skip right over the gray background. My first row would
be P2, K5, P2, just as in the written directions. Now different
authors represent non-charted “no stitch” or null spaces
differently. I chose to use a general background shading, with no
boxes marking individual stitches. Other people don’t bother
removing the box notation from the no-stitch spaces. On their
charts the no-stitch boxes can be a bit harder to interpret.

How to know when to use mystery no-stitch boxes? Although it’s a
matter of personal preference, sometimes they’re absolutely necessary
because there just isn’t room to graph out your piece unless they’re in
the mix. I could graph out my embossed leaf without the
no-stitch areas, but if this leaf was part of a larger graph covering a
wider area, the distortion introduced by the width of the longest row
might ripple out and perturb the representation of design elements to
either side. In that case, using the no-stitch boxes would keep
my two edges parallel and let the leaf panel sit more comfortably in
the total project chart. That in turn would help the
knitter keep his or her place on the wider graph.

Tomorrow I’ll look at patterns that are extremely hard (if not
impossible) to chart out. The final piece in this series I’ll
build one chart for a lacy or complex cabled design that has presented
a special challenge. Nominations for the final object lesson will
be accepted. Please contact me off-list before Thursday night if you know of a prose texture pattern you’d like to suggest for group edification.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s