Monday, July 29, 2013

The Secret Language of Knitters

A blog post by Kathy b made me stop and think recently about how one goes about tackling tricky knitting. We have all looked at a pattern and decided it wasn't for us but what happens if the pattern makes little sense and you really want to go on with it? I am having that problem with my newest, the Holden shawl. I already hear you snickering. I know, it is an easy pattern, even recommended for beginners so why am I scratching my head more than knitting? It's because I wanted to make changes to the original design. Since I have a limited amount of handspun, I wanted to start the lace sooner than the pattern calls for so I had to figure out how many stitches I needed in order to make that happen. While I was at it, I decided to rewrite the whole lace pattern so that it made sense to me and so I wouldn't be tied to the chart.

When the printer died last year, I started having to write out patterns and it has been the best thing that has happened to me knitwise in a while. By writing out things in my own crazy shorthand, I can reduce all that mumbo jumbo that designers have to put into their patterns and "see" the number and types of stitches that create the design. Reading long winded directions and counting little boxes on a chart are tedious. It is necessary for the designers to give us all that information but not all of it is important enough to have to look at all the time.

 It works great for cables which to me are the hardest of all the techniques. Keeping track of who does what and when made me crazy. Not any more. Here are the charts I made from the pattern of my last Aran sweater which was smooth sailing.

It's also a life saver for color work. I would have never survived the Lillehammer without recharting. I hate, hate, hate counting little boxes so I count ahead and group the colors to save time.

 As for the Holden, I am happy to say it only took me about 4 hours to figure out how to start the lace at about half the stitches called for. I finished half of the first entire repeat and so far so good but since I am using straight needles (all my size 6 circulars are in use), I can't really see what I am doing.


  1. You should see my notes for when I'm designing! I'm a very intuitive knitter, so remembering to put in all that extra stuff for other knitters is a challenge!

  2. WEll that explains it! :) :)

    I have to really learn to pick the pattern apart BEFORE I get excited and cast on>...