Reading your knitting

I was at craft group one night with my knitting and pattern and one of the girls commented that I had a pattern, “but you never work from a pattern!” she said.  She had never seen my using a pattern because generally I take things out where I have already established the pattern and therefore don’t need the written instructions until I get to the shaping for the armholes etc.

So how does this work?  The easiest way to explain it is in reference to a chart.  A chart is simply a picture of what your knitting will look like when you have finished.  As I had already completed one pattern repeat I had the equivalent of a chart wherever I went.  My knitting becomes my pattern. (With fluffy yarns and novelty yarns this doesn’t work so well).

The second thing is how to memorise the pattern so you don’t have to refer to it constantly.

I’m working on a pattern at the moment that contains the following 2 rows within the 12 row repeat:

(k1 p1) twice (k5, p1) 6 times k5 (p1,k1) twice. (49 stitches)

(k1 p1) twice k1 (p3,k1,p7 k1) 3 times p3,(k1,p1) twice k1 (49 stitches)

I could just knit or purl each stitch as I come to it but then I would never be able to memorise it or remember where I was up to.

The pattern once you see it can be broken down to: 5 stitches in moss stitch, 3 stitches stocking stitch, 2 moss, 5 stocking, 2 moss, 3 stocking….ending with 5 moss.

Here is the above 2 rows repeated 3 times in graph form. (Although the pattern is clear, the navy linen doesn’t photograph clearly)

Thinking about it this way it is easy to see where the purl stitches should fall so mistakes are easy to avoid or find if you do make any.

When I knit this I think it of it as k1 p1 k1 p1 k1 | k3| k1 p1| k5| p1 k1| k3… ie.  in terms of what pattern am I knitting rather than what is the next individual stitch.

This technique can be applied to very complicated patterns by breaking them down to a series of smaller patterns.

As you look at the work you have done you will get to know what stitch should fall on top of the ones below. Once you have mastered this technique you will find that markers will only be required to mark certain points like the centre and the start and end of the actual pattern repeats.  The markers for the individual patterns will be the stitches below the ones you are working on.

eg.  See the centre of the pattern is very easy to pick.

This pattern was written as a 50+ row chart but it is really a 4 row repeat made up of 3 stitches faggoting and 20 stitches of the 4 row lace pattern, repeated across the shawl.   The difficult bit is working in the edge and centre stitches as you increase the size of the shawl, I use markers to help with this bit.  Even the 20 stitches of the lace pattern are not that difficult as it is easy to remember that it starts k1 yo in row 1, p2 yo in row 2, k3 yo in row 3 and p4 yo in row 4.  The decrease then lines up with the rows below and the centre stitches  are easy to see.  The other half of the pattern is simply the reverse of the first half.

The final advantage in learning to read your knitting is for these types of patterns you will never need a row counter.  What row am I on?  Well how many full repeats have I done and what row of the pattern am I on?

Of course it doesn’t always work.  If someone could tell me what I did here I would be grateful as I made this over 5 years ago and I have no idea what the stitch was!  It was knitted on large needles and did involve passing slipped stitches over.


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