Knitting the Charts

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"my brain hurts" chart

Florida is a funny place to be a knitter, if you think about it. We wear heavy sweaters maybe 1 week out of the year? Gloves, mittens, hats … they all get much more use up north. Knitting afghans or blankets is a lovely thought, until you realize that what you knit will be in your lap, growing bigger and heavier and warmer with every row. Not an enticing thought when it’s over 80 before the sun is up with humidity at near 100%.

That’s why I love knitting lace. It’s cooler and lighter because of the holes that make up the lace pattern, and it works well in places like the movie theater or Van Wezel where the a/c makes you want a little something to warm your shoulders.

The drawback? CHARTS. Those scary, intimidating things that may as well be written by some alien species that doesn’t think like us. You look at the “picture”, think about how you’ve heard people singing the praises of charts because it’s easy to see the pattern, and don’t get it. It looks like a foreign language. (A fellow musician actually made that comment to me … I was backstage before a rehearsal, knitting from a chart. He came up beside me, watched for a few seconds, then said “you can read that thing? It’s like it’s written in Arabic or something.” I told him it was like reading music – once you know what the symbols mean and how they’re laid out on the page, a little practice and it’s as easy as reading a book!)

It’s not just lace charts show up in, either. They’re used in colorwork like intarsia and Fair Isle and in cable patterns.

The thing is, once you learn how to read a chart, it really is just like reading. The various symbols and colors are the equivalent of letters. First you learn what they mean, then you figure out how they’re laid out on the page and how it corresponds to your knitting. Once you’re reading, it opens up new worlds to knit!

Now, you probably didn’t learn to read on your own. It helps to have someone sit down with you and guide you through the chart. That’s where I and Picasso’s Moon come in.

This Friday (6/8/12) I will be at Picasso’s Moon from 11-3 to help anyone and everyone with charts. Whether you have a specific chart you need help with, or you just want to wet your feet in general (or ┬ádive in headfirst!), I would love to help you. If you’ve ever dreamed of being able to navigate around a knitting chart, but dismissed it as out of your league, please come and give it a try. If you’ve tried following a chart but gotten hopelessly lost, come find your way. I want to show you around the world of charts.