CHARTING 105 – EXERCISES

So far the nominations for stitches to use as object lessons have been rather sparse. I’ve gotten suggestions to do:

  • Porcupine Stitch from B. Walker’s Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns, p. 282
  • Drooping Elm Leaves from B. Walker’s A Treasury of Knitting Patterns, p. 217

I’ve also gotten notes from people who said that given the hints posted over the past week they’ve been able to graph up

  • Mermaid Mesh from Walker’s Second Treasury, p. 267
  • Madeira Cascade from Walker’s A Treasury, p. 222

As the big boss at work would say, “Good on ‘ya!”

These
two patterns are not quite straightforward. Cascade has five stitches
above and beyond the repeat that need to be apportioned into edge
stitches. It does however have a very strong central spine – a double
decrease that lines up on all right-side rows. Mesh is a bit harder in
that it has both lots of edge stitches, plus a massive number of
decreases and increases that use natural slant of the decreases to
visually wander left and right. Certainly not a pattern for the
faint-hearted to graph!

For the object lesson I’ll do Porcupine and Walker’s Starlight Lace (Second Treasury,
p 288). Drooping Elm is interesting, but doesn’t pose some of the
conundrums that these two do. I’ll start today with Porcupine.
Starlight will appear later in the week.

Porcupine Stitch from B. Walker’s Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns, p. 282

Porcupine
has some interesting features. It’s a 9 row repeat, in which only three
rows are substantive. BUT those three rows are each repeated at least
twice, and the same instructions are repeated on both the right and
wrong side rows of the piece. There are also four stitches requested
over the 12 stitch repeat
count that will have to be accounted for in edge stitches, but they
seem to always stay outside the ** repeat marks, so keeping track of
them shouldn’t be a problem.

Walker notes that this texture design is of Victorian origin. It
does have a major feature that was much more common in early
instructions than in later ones. Porcupine includes patterning on both
right side and wrong
side rows. You don’t see this often as most modern? patterns
confine increases, decreases or other shaping elements to right-side
rows only. Flipping the instructions for decreases is far more
confusing than just translating knits to purls and vice versa.

My
write-up will intersperse the as Walker gives them with how that row
ends up being graphed. The Walker quotations will be in bold.

Multiple of 12 stitches plus 4
Row 1: K2, *Yo, K2tog; rep from * to last 2 sts, end k2
Looking
at the pattern, I suspect it will be a good idea to graph out two
repeats of the pattern, that’s 24+4 = 28 stitches across my chart. We
start with a right-side row:


Row 2 and 4: K2, purl to last 2 st, end k2
Very
easy. Remember this is a wrong side row, and that mental inversion
thing should be invoked to “flip” knits to purls and vice versa.

Row 3: Knit
Because Row 4 is the same as Row 2, I’ll graph up both 3 and 4 here.


Row 5 and 8: K2, *sl1-k2tog-psso, k4, yo, k1, yo, k4, re from *, end k2
Now
it begins to get interesting. Still, stitch counts are maintained. How
can I tell this? By looking at the part between the **s. It includes a
double decrease that finishes with the rightmost stitch on top, plus
two yos to compensate for the two stitches eaten by the double
decrease. Warning though. It’s not all that hard to visualize row 5,
it’s a right-side (odd numbered) row, but I can sense some
hyperventilation among those who have noticed that this same sequence
is repeated on a wrong-side (even numbered) row. We’ll deal with that
bit of chaos when we get there.

Row 6, 7 and 9: K2* p3tog, p4, yo, p1, yo, p4, rep from * end k2
We
have now hit the twilight zone row – the one that will cause many
people to give up graphing. But it’s not impossible. Remember that
mental flip thing? Flex your brain because we’re now going to do some
gymnastics.

On Row 6, we’ve been told to do a p3tog on a wrong
side row. Now, a p3tog on a wrong side row, if viewed from the right
side of the work is a dead ringer for a k3tog. How do I know this? The
Sainted Barbara tells me so in the glossary of chart symbols in her Charted Knitting Designs (aka Walker III), and A Fourth Treasury of Knitting Patterns
(aka Walker IV). Also I experimented. I’ll use my symbol for k3tog, BUT
I’ll remember to build a double column glossary to accompany this
pattern that describes what should be done when this symbol is
encountered on both right-side and wrong-side rows.


Now
on Row 7, we’re told to do the same thing as on Row 6. But we’re on a
right-side row. A p3tog on a right side row is a p3tog on a right side
row. I don’t have a symbol in my set for a p3tog, so I’ll have to make
one up. Visually, in a P3tog done on an odd numbered row, the right
hand most stitch of the three worked together ends up on top. I’ll make
a hybrid symbol that sort of reminds me that three stitches are being
worked together, the right hand most one will end up on top, and that
it’s a purl. If it turns out that I like this symbol, I’ll add it to my
permanent stencil collection in Visio:


Row 5 and 8: K2, *sl1-k2tog-psso, k4, yo, k1, yo, k4, re from *, end k2
Row
8 is a repeat of Row 5, but it’s done on a wrong-side as opposed to
right-side row. Again referring to the Sainted Barbara, we see that a
s1-k2tog-psso done on the right side has as its wrong-side counterpart
the delightfully awkward p3tog through the back of the loop. Again –
remember we don’t actually have to DO a p3tog through the back of the
loop here unless we are doing this pattern in the round, but the symbol
we use on the chart is the same one that would be used for one of those
awkward puppies worked on the right side. I don’t happen to have a
standard symbol for p3tog through the back of the loop, so I’ll invent
one.

Row 6, 7 and 9: K2* p3tog, p4, yo, p1, yo, p4, rep from * end k2
Row
9 is a duplicate of Row 7. We’ve already graphed that. So we now have
the nine rows of our repeat. It’s also become clear that stitch counts are rock-stable row to row, and that the four
extra stitches here are just garter stitch selvedges there for
convenience, and aren’t required to eke out partial repeats of
the pattern. I’ll mark the four extras off in blue.

But we’re not quite done even though all nine rows are graphed out.

We’ve
got a repeat made up of an odd number of rows. That means that Row 1
repeats on Row 10. In fact, although rows 10-18 are the same as Rows
1-9, each one graphs up as its opposite-side sibling. (I can sense I’ve
lost quite a few of you, so I’ll show rows 10-13:

Row
10 duplicates the action of Row 1, but does it on a wrong-side row.
Therefore, the stitches that graph up as K2togs in Row 1 use a
different symbol in Row 11. Likewise the knits/purls of rows 11-13 show
as their opposite.

Row 14 duplicates Row 5, but as a
wrong-side row. We’ve already graphed that bit of twisted thinking on
Row 8, so adding it isn’t a problem. Row 15 replicates Row 6, again we
already did that flip on Row 9, so a simple cut and paste takes care if
it, too.

Row
16 duplicates Row 7, which has its wrong-side counterpart originally on
Row 6. Row 17 is another Row 8 in its right-side expression (Row 5).
Row 18 is another Row 9 flipped for the wrong side (Row 6). If you
place all of them on the chart, add the stitch key, grids, titles, and
attributions you end up with this:

Now
this may seem a long way to go for a short drink of water compared to
Walker’s original write-up. In this case, the prose description is only
five lines long, but the chart takes up half a page. There’s no bonus
for brevity awarded for the charted format. But there is one
major advantage to having this described in a graph. This
chart is equally useful to people knitting in the flat and people
knitting in the round, because all the right/wrong side transformations
have
been done.

People knitting in the round experience every row as a right-side
row. To knit this reversible pattern entirely in the round,
they’d cast on an even number of the stitch multiple (without the four
blue extra stitches) then they’d follow every row starting at the right
hand edge of the graph, and using the key symbols as interpreted
in the “On Right-Side Rows” column. People knitting in the
flat would follow the chart in the manner I described before, starting
the odd numbered rows at the right edge, and the even numbered rows at
the left, alternately using the appropriate columns from the
accompanying symbol key.

Have fun with this one. Try out Porcupine Stitch in a swatch.
You’ll find the lacy effect is magnified if a larger needle than one
would usually use for a given yarn is used. Lacy or dense, the
result will be rather puffy. Given the appropriate yarn it would
make nice two-sided scarves, shawls, or blankets. Stay tuned for more adventures in charting!

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