CHARTING 106 – SECOND EXAMPLE

Here’s the last item in the chart series. Thank you for all the kind
words. I’m delighted that people are finding this useful.

I
have gotten some questions about why I am not using the standard
Japanese symbol set. That set is quite broad compared to most of the
sets in Western books. My answer is that it’s relatively unknown in the
US and Europe. Perhaps I’ll add a symbol glossary that equates its
symbols to notations used by other more commonly available sources.
That’s a big project though, and might be better suited for wiseNeedle
than for this blog.

Barbara Walker’s Starlight Lace, Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns, p.288

I
will use this last Walker pattern to show some more complications to
charting life. This time, the pattern’s stitch count varies in a couple
of rows, plus there is a large number of edge stitches. My method is to
graph out everything verbatim row to row, then (if needed) introduce
no-stitch boxes for clarity. Again, all quotations from Walker are in
bold. Here goes…

Multiple of 6 st plus 5
Row 1 (wrong side): and all other wrong-side rows – Purl.
Row 2: K2 *yo, ssk, k1, yo, ssk, k1-b; rep from *; end yo, ssk, k1.

The
repeat is only 6 stitches, but I think I’ll chart out three repeats plus
edge stitches. That should give me enough room to see the play of the
edge stitches, and the staggered effect of the offset design itself.
Row 1 is plain old purl, but it’s a wrong side row, so it graphs out as
shown below, with the “1” on the left hand edge rather than the right
hand edge. Remember, I’m just graphing verbatim at this point. I’m
making no effort to read ahead. I just want to get the stitches down on
my chart.


We’ve
got 23 stitches [(6×3) + 5]. Note that the k1-b (knit one stitch
through the back of the loop to twist it) has its own symbol. All wrong
side rows in this pattern are plain – worked as purls if the thing is
knit flat, and as knits if it’s worked in the round.

Digression:
Most modern texture patterns alternate rows with something happening on
them (cable crossings, decreases, increases, etc.) with plain rows, and
many pattern authors don’t bother graphing the alternate rows if
they’re all plain. This can cause a bit of confusion. I got tripped up
recently by Hazel Carter’s Spider Queen shawl. It’s a masterful bit of
charting, but the first chart is stripped of those plain wrong-side
rows. The later charts include them. I wasn’t paying attention, and
didn’t notice that the numbering on that first chart labeled every row,
but counted by twos. I ended up having to rip back a bit when I noticed
that my piece didn’t looklike the project photo. So be warned. Look
at the numbering. If it begins with “1” on the left, and you’re
knitting flat you start off with a wrong-side row. If the “1” is on the
right and you’re knitting flat, you start off with a right-side row. If
every other number is missing, you’ve got a pattern with the plain rows
left out. Look elsewhere in the write-up to find out if those plain
rows are to be knit or purled.

I’ll skip writing up the plain rows, but I will include them in my growing graph:

Row 4: K3, *k2tog, yo, k1-b, yo, ssk, k1-b, rep from *; end k2


Again,
no problems here. Everything graphs out nicely and stitch count is
constant. There are equal numbers of stitches increased (the yos) and
stitches decreased (the ssks and k2togs).

Sometimes if I’m
having problems with a repeat, even if it’s charted, I’ll grab a piece
of graph paper and draw out my stitches. Sometimes I catch an error in
my knitting using my pencil that went totally unnoticed on my needles.

Row 6: k2, k2tog * yo, sl2-k1-p2sso, yo, sl1-k2tog-psso; rep from * end yo, sl2-k1-p2sso, yo ssk, k2.

This
is where that “off to hell in a handbasket” feeling begins to creep in.
We’ve got double decreases, both with the rightmost leg on top
(sl1-k2tog-psso), and with the centermost stitch on top (sl2-k1-p2sso).
We’ve also got a number of yarn overs, and just for fun – a couple of
plain old decreases, and an unknown number of times to do the ** repeat
between the k2, k2tog opening unit, and the end yo, sl2-k1-p2sso, yo,
ssk, k2 closing unit.

To figure this out, we need to remember
that we’ve got 23 base stitches on the previous row. That’s 23 stitches
to play with. All of the plain knits plus the stitches in the decreases
on Row 6 must add up to 23. Let’s look at the math:

  • One ** repeat on this row adds up to six stitches (the two double decreases).
  • The pre-** opening row unit is four stitches (k2 plus one k2tog)
  • The after-** closing row unit is seven stitches (one double decrease plus one ssk and k2)

If
you add up our fixed numbers (the pre- and post-** stitches) you get 11
stitches. The previous row contained 23, and we subtract those 11 from
the total. We get 12, which (serendipity) is a multiple of our ** unit.
We graph out the pre-* stitches (shown in blue) plus two repeats of the
** unit, followed by the post-** unit (also shown in blue.


We’re out of that handbasket, even though our graph is showing a very
short row. Not to worry. Going through and counting stitches confirms
that we’ve got the correct number here. We’ll worry about neatening
everything up and inserting those no-stitch boxes after we get all the
rows charted. So let’s move on.

Row 8: K3, *k1-b, yo, k1, yo, k1-b, k1; rep from*, end k2.
This
row is also problematic. How many times to repeat the stuff between the
**s? Again , stitch count comes to our rescue. Evil Row 6 brought the
stitch count down to 17. Row 7 (worked plain) preserved that count. Now
on Row 8, there are increases, and “as-is” stitches but no decreases.
There should be 17 stitches on this row EXCLUSIVE of the YOs. Again we
do the math. We start with 17 stitches, then account for the three
before the *, and the 2 after – that’s 12 stitches left. NOT counting
YOs, each between the ** repeat contains 4 stitches. We need to graph
out three iterations of the stuff between the **s. Happily once we
graph in these instructions (including the 6 YOs) that restores us to
the original stitch count of 23.

Remember,
we’re not worrying about lining stitches up right now, our only concern
is getting the correct number of them on the chart. We’ll think about
how to represent those low-count rows 6 and 7 later.

Row 10: K2, *yo, ssk, k1-b, yo, ssk,k1; rep from * end yo, ssk, k1
We’re
back to a stable stitch count, with the same number of increases and
decreases per row. Graphing it up is easy. I notice something here
though:

See
those two blue units? They’re identical. It looks like this pattern is
formed by an exact duplicate of rows 1-6, offset by three stitches (one
half of the repeat). While you can see it (sort of) in the prose
directions, the duplication leaps out in the charted ones. I find this
sort of half-drop duplication and charting makes the pattern really
easy to memorize. More on this later, after we’ve charted some more
rows.

Row 12: *K2tog, yo, k1-b, yo, ssk, k1-b; rep from *, end k2 tog, yo, k1-b, yo, ssk.
Again this looks veeerrrryyyy familiar! I’ve highlighted the repeat (in fact I just cut and pasted those boxes).

Row 14: K1, *yo, sl2-k1-p2sso, yo, sl1-k2tog-psso; rep from *, end yo, sl2-k1-p2sso, yo, k1.
Remember
Evil Row 6, with all those double decreases? It’s back! Offset three
stitches, but otherwise the same. We start with 23 stitches on the
previous row, then subtract the 1 before the **, and the 4 after the
**, leaving 18 stitches – so we do the 6-stitch bit between the **s
three times.

Row 16: K1, k1-b, *k1, yo, k1-b, k1, k1-b, yo; rep from * end k1, k1-b, k1.
Just
like row 8, offset again by three stitches. Again we’ve got 17 stitches
on the previous row to account for. Not counting the YOs, we’ve got 2
stitches before and 3 stitches after the ** accounted for, leaving 12 –
so we do the 4-stitch ** unit three times. One you add in the YOs,
we’re back up to to the 23 stitches of our original count.

Now
to add the finishing touches. It looks like each of the decrease units
on Rows 6 and 14 visually caps off the clusters of decreases on the
rows below. So I’ll spread them out across the row, adding in my
no-stitch boxes as best I can to maximize the read of the pattern
compared to the photo of the worked swatch.

I’ll also add in
my stitch key, header and footer info at this point. Remember that
there are NO increases or decreases on alternate rows. Therefore I
don’t need to include that second column of “if it’s a
right-side/wrong-side row” instructions that I had to include in
yesterday’s write-up.

One final note, there is one small bit of
strangeness here. Because of the way that the repeat works out, and the
way that edge stitches are handled, the last decrease on Row 6 is
handled differently if it is the final stitch of an “inside repeat” or
if it is the final stitch of the last repeat on the row. Since this
isn’t easy to graph, I’ve added a special note about it, and made it
blue on the chart.

The memorization thing?? This pattern looks complicated at first glance. Especially if you just look at the prose directions. However it’s not that tough. There are only four substantive rows – 2, 4, 6, and 8. The entire pattern repeat is only six stitches wide. Everything else is a repeat, either straight on the same row, or (in the case of rows 10-16) offset by three stitches (one half the width of the repeat). ? I can’t remember the prose directions verbatim, but I can and do memorize the pattern in its visual representation. Not everyone can memorize a nonverbal visual representation (and it’s no shame not to have that bit of wiring) but many people can, and have surprised themselves by being able to do so after becoming comfortable with charts.

This
concludes my mini-series on graphing – how to read them, how to build

them, and how to solve common problems translating prose directions to
charts. Please feel free to post additional questions about graphing
and reinterpreting prose instructions as charts, but please know I will
not be offering a graphing service here. My goal is to show others how
to do it for themselves, not do it for them.

One last tech note
– the visual presentation of the charts changes mid-way through this
note because I experienced a massive computer failure. I ended up
finishing this post on a different machine using a different version of
MS Visio. The later version has a slightly different GIF translator
than the earlier version I normally use. So it’s not your monitor –
it’s me. Apologies for the visual confusion.

One response

  1. Thanks so much for the chart. I am knitting a triangular scarf/shawl using starlight lace from the bottom up. The changing number of edge stitches make it confusing when and where to start the repeat. Your chart was of great help to me!

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