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Is the Chart Knit Ready?

My first color work knit many years ago was a Lopi sweater. You know the one, bulky, cozy, and oh so warm, even in the cold Massachusetts winters. As a new self-taught knitter, I did not know that reading charts might be hard and I just plunged ahead.

Since then there have been many stranded color work projects and I pride myself on being a pretty good chart reader. When I worked in an LYS, I could sit with a customer and help them learn how to read their charts. I could even, occasionally, spot when there was an error in the chart.

Now when I approach knitting a stranded color work project, one of the first things i do is look at the chart and ask myself if I understand what I am looking at. Does the chart show me how my design will look? If it does not use color (and I don't need it to), are the squares distinct? Can I tell which two colors are being used in each row?

Unfortunately, the charts in Tilghman Island, and indeed all of the Shetland 2000 patterns, are a struggle for me to read. Here is photo of one of the charts from the book.

Even with the symbol code, I found this chart hard to read. This is due in part to the use of symbols, so that every square is full, but are not really distinct to me. Another challenge is that this chart appears to be 8 stitches by 9 rows. In reality it is 8 stitches by 18 rows. In other words, a rectangle rather than a square. A final challenge is that, in the pattern book, this chart is relatively small, taking up less than one quarter of a page.

In an attempt to understand what this will look like I redid the chart two different ways. First, I used Stitchmastery to color in the squares.

While the colors are not perfect matches, this offers me a clearer sense of what the pattern is. While in this chart the background color is Shetland Black that is not true for the main body of the sweater which is a much bigger chart of 34 rows by 34 stitches with five different color symbols and background color changing every few rows.

I then created the chart on graph paper with the background color left blank.

This rough version has the advantage, that as long as I am clear which is the background and which is the foreground color, I can quickly see which stitch is which color. My instinct is telling me that way forward on the big chart is to sit with the graph paper and the close up photo of the finished sweater. That may be a task to undertake with a good audio book on.

Coming Next: Winding and Swatching

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