Karie Bookish Dot Net

Tutorial: Lace Charts 3 – How to Read a Shawl Chart

I like my patterns to be inclusive, so I try to offer them with both written and charted instructions. However, sometimes (like the Mahy shawl) a chart is the best way of offering concise and precise information. I know many people don’t like charts, but I hope this series of tutorials will go some way to demystify charts and explain how to use them. 

So, we’ve had a look at the anatomy of a lace chart and how to read a basic chart. Today I’ll take a look at a slightly more complex chart that adds extra stitches as well as mysterious “no stitches”.

Lace Chart_no_WS

We had a look at this in the first tutorial. But there was one thing I left out that you may or may not have seen in charts: “No Stitch” symbols. Basic Chart_no WS_hiddenitemsshown

The “No Stitch” symbol is inserted because charts are essentially a 2D grid of a 3D object. Because we make stitches in that position later on, we need the grid to reflect that. To wit:

Basic Chart_no WS_hiddenitemsshown_explanation

I like to hide “No Stitch” squares in my chart because I find they cause more confusion than they are worth. As a knitter, all you need to know is that these “No Stitch” squares are actions that do not exist yet. Skip them. You are yet to make them.

So, let’s go back to the lace chart where the “No Stitch” squares have all vanished into thin air. Let’s figure out how to follow this one.

Lace Chart_no_WS

Step 1: Look for the row number. You start with Row 1.
Step 2: Work in the direction you are working the stitches. On RS rows, work from right to left. On WS rows, work from left to right.
Step 3: Each square represents an action you must take. Mostly you end up with a single stitch on your needle as the result of your action, but keep checking your chart key for information!
Step 4: If you cannot see a square or if the square is indication as “No Stitch”, you skip to the next action you can see.
Step 5: If information isn’t visible (i.e. you cannot see WS rows on the chart), check the pattern for instructions.

Keeping all this in mind, you might start looking at the chart like this:
Basic Chart_no WS_reading

This post is part of my Lace Chart tutorial series:

Lace Charts 1 – The Anatomy of a Lace Chart
Lace Charts 2 – How to Read a Basic Chart
Lace Charts 3 – How to Read a Shawl Chart
Lace Charts 4: Chart Tricks & Knitting Hacks

Next time we will look at chart comprehension hacks and how to customise your charts. That will be the last chapter, so keep your questions coming either here or via social media. Kx

 

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