About a week ago I released my Leaf Baby Blanket. I haven’t written about it, because it was actually a gift for my cousin who was expecting a baby girl. Now that they have received the blanket I can post all about it here! This blanket pattern has been a couple years in the making. In addition to making it a couple times to make sure it worked well and was sized well, it also went through tech editing to make sure it was as good as it possibly could be. 😀 I love that this gift is covered in leaves that is great for a new little one. It can also be made in absolutely any color, and with all the leaves it work really well with a fall color scheme. For my cousins baby girl I decided on a grey/green hybrid yarn. I used Miss Babs Keira sport weight yarn, and is so light and airy. It is also a superwash yarn which makes it great for baby items. I like to make sure the new parents are able to easily wash the baby items, because let’s be honest….baby stuff happens. 😀 I also thought that would be perfect for a July baby. Baby girl is small enough right now that it can be doubled to make it thicker for those days inside with air conditioning. 😀 When it comes to making an heirloom blanket, you don’t always want a bulky type of blanket, but one that is light and flowing and perfect for any season. I hope you love this as much as I do!
As you progress in your knitting, you will inevitably come to a pattern that contains a chart. The chart is simply a pictorial depiction of how the pattern is to be worked. Many patterns will also come with written directions that you can use instead of the chart, but this is not always the case. Either way, it’s a very good skill to learn, and it’s not as intuitive as many people think. We’ll go through a simple chart that I have created, and I’ll try to answer many of the basic questions I see. Also, a chart is read differently depending on if you are knitting flat, or in the round, so I will be sure to give the proper instruction for both.
First of all, here is your sample chart (this is just a simple triangle shape, but I wanted to show how decreases and yarn over’s work in a chart).
To start, lets look at the numbers on the side and bottom. Every time you begin a chart, you will begin at the lowest number, in this case 1. You may find if you are working a large shawl, this will not always be a 1, because there could be multiple charts and the shawl progresses. The number on the right (and left) sides of the chart are your row numbers. The numbers on the bottom are the stitch numbers. In this case, you begin by working stitch row of row 1 on the chart, on the first stitch of the row on your needles. You also have a key with your chart, which in this case appears to the right of the chart. It will tell you what each symbol and box means. For the very first stitch of the first row, the box is empty and white. The key explains that this is a knit stitch on the right side of your work, and a purl on the wrong side of your work. Since row 1 is our beginning, that is our right side, and will be a knit stitch for us.
Box 2 of row 1 is a circle, which the key tells us means we are to do a yarn over. This takes up a box, even though it creates and extra stitch. That is because somewhere in our pattern we have an offsetting decrease that will bring us back down to the correct number of stitches we need. So, move your yarn to the front of your work, to create your yarn over, and get ready for box 3 of row 1.
Box 3 is an SSK. There is our offsetting decrease. As you can see this only takes up one box, even though we are working two stitches. Again, this is because that yarn over is the other part of that stitch count.
Box 4 through 8 are all empty boxes, so knit each of these.
Box 9 is another decrease. This time it’s a k2tog (knit two together). Like the SSK, this only takes up one box even though we are working two stitches. That is because we have a yarn over coming up that will balance it out.
Box 10 is our next yarn over.
Box 11 is the last stitch of our pattern, and it’s another empty white box, so knit this stitch.
This first row, is worked on the right side of our work, and will be worked exactly the same for in the round and flat. The differences begin on the even numbered rows. That is because when we are working flat, these even numbered rows are going to on the wrong side of the work, but if we are working in the round, we never have a wrong side row.
In this pattern, I have kept it pretty simple, and left all of the even numbered rows as blank white boxes. As you can see from the key, it has each item labeled as to how it is worked based on whether you are on a right side (RS) row or a wrong side (WS) row. Another difference between working in the round, or working flat is how you read the even numbered rows. Picture this chart as being how you are looking at your knitted piece. If all the odd numbered rows are the right side, then as the chart sits, you are looking at the right side. When working in the round, that means that you are always going to be reading your chart from right to left. However, if you are knitting flat, you turn your knitting piece. That means, you need to mentally turn your chart. So, when you start row 2 (and all even numbered rows), you are actually reading your chart from left to right. Then Row 3 you go back to right to left, etc. This is one area that can really throw people off. But, if you think of it as if it’s a piece of knitted work, and you turn put your finger on the last stitch of your right side row, and then turn your work, you will see that it’s like you are looking at the back of your chart. You are still working your knitted piece right to left, but it’s as if you now have to work the mirror image of your chart to get the pattern to line up. I hope that makes sense. 🙂 That means that if you are working a flat piece, you will purl all of your stitches back. If you are working in the round, you will knit.
As you work your chart, you work your rows in order. You begin with row 1, then do row 2, then row 3, etc, until you have completed the final row in that chart. However, if you are not done with your piece yet, you will likely be given instructions that say, “repeat the chart until you reach your desired length”, or “repeat the chart 3 times”, or some variation of those. The first one, which is the length option, means that when you finish the last row of the chart, you begin the chart all over again, back at row 1. And you do the chart over and over again, until you have a piece that is the length you want it to be. This instruction is very common in blankets, sweaters, etc. The second option tells you how many times to repeat the chart. That means you work through the entire chart once, then go back to row 1 and work the entire chart a second time, then go back to row 1 and work the entire chart a third time. Then you can move on to the next instructions in the pattern.
Another part of the chart that you will see quite often is that red border that I have around the chart. This is called a repeat. It can become very confusing, because you will hear the word repeat thrown around a lot. Repeating the chart until x length or x times, refers to how many times you repeat all the rows of the chart. However, what happens if you piece is 33 stitches wide, but this chart is only 11 stitches. You will be given instructions that say “repeat the chart across the row 3 times”, or some variation of that. This repeat means that those first 11 boxes of the chart will be done again and again, until you have finished 3 repeats. So, in the case of our chart, after you have finished stitch number 11, you go back to row 1 box 1 and work all 11 stitches again. There are a few reasons for it be done like this. One reason is because you want to save space on your page. When a designer is working on something large, like a shawl, you don’t want to list all 300 something stitches in the chart. So, you showing all the ones that have this exact same section as a repeat, you can significantly reduce the number of stitches in your chart. You will very often see that they outline box (in this case the red box), will not be all the stitches, as I have it here. You will very often work a number of stitches, then see the outline box show up with instructions on how many times to repeat it, and then work more stitches afterwards. Again, this is very common in shawls because they have so many stitches, but they also have increases on the ends that need to be shown separately from the repeat chart.
Something else that you will see that can be very confusing is a grey box in the chart. They key will usually just label this as “no stitch”. Most people look at it and go okay, but then what. The reason this shows up is because stitches were decreased in the work somewhere. When you come across this grey no stitch box, you simply pretend it doesn’t exist, because that stitch no longer exists. It was decreased away in a previous row.
I really hope that this helps with chart knitting. If I have not answered a question you have, please let me know. Another great way to double check that you are reading the chart properly, is to compare it to the written directions. They should be identical.
These socks were created during the heart of the quarantine when I no longer knew what day of the week it was. It felt like a perpetual weekend. I had grown frustrated with everything, and needed to really take the time to refocus myself. These socks were born of that extra attention to my craft. I wanted something with interest to keep someone engaged in the knit, but also simple enough to not make it be laborious. I mean, it’s not like many of us want something supremely difficult right now. When we get frustrated with life, we really want to drown ourselves in something soothing. Hopefully this pattern will tick those boxes!
It’s time to increase your knitting skill repertoire once more. 😀 This time, we are talking about decreases. We have gone over basic knit and purl stitches, and have talked about increases, but now we should move to decreases. That will give you the tools you need to be able to make hats, or lace things. After this post, we will be able to focus more on just enhancing skills. Like anything, most of your skills will grow with just good ole practice. I really hope that this has helped you increase your basic knitting knowledge. One of the complaints I have heard from so many people, is that they feel that the ‘fancy’ knitting projects are out of their grasp. That knitting is a very guarded skill. I have found that with many things, if you know how to do it, it is regarded as some special club that only the select are part of. I strongly disagree, and feel that if someone wants to do something, we should all be able to sit here and let them know that we are here to help them grow. With this series of posts that I have done on how to knit, I want to make sure that you understand that none of this is out of your reach. I will be continuing these posts to explain how to knit various things. I already have a series out on how to knit socks, but that assumes a level of knowledge on how to either knit in the round in some manner. So far, these how to knit posts have not looked at this. I will probably look at how to specifically knit in the round and flat in the next post. It’s important that you are able to get even what many would consider the most basic information, because unless you already know something, it’s not basic. Beginner is not a term that should be shunned. Everyone was a beginner at something before they practiced and improved. Another important thing, is that you should never regard yourself as a lower class knitter because of your materials. I have been designing patterns and making lacework and other knitting things for years, and I still greatly value acrylic yarn. So many knitters will turn their nose down at it, but it’s not the hard plastic yarn of the 80’s. Besides, not all of us can afford yarn that is $20-30 for a single skein. That is why I love to tout Knit Picks yarn. I can get sock yarn for a much lower price than other places, and it’s still fantastic yarn. You need to be able to work within your means! Okay, now that I have gone through all of this, it’s time to move on to the actual learning portion of this post. 😀
Decreases are used to reduce the number of stitches you have on your needles. This could be for the toe of a sock, the crown (top) of a hat, or to work a lace pattern. The great thing is that once you know how to do a particular decrease, it is the same regardless of what your project is. I’m not going to go into every single kind of decrease, because there are many variations of a stitch. For example, I will go through the stitches called “knit 2 together” or “purl 2 together”, but there are variations where you might knit or purl 3 or 4 together. They are worked identically, just with more stitches. Once you know how to do one, you can work on how to do them all. 😀 Decreases also have leans to them. So you will find, as I go along, I will tell you which way the stitch will lean (and have photos, of course), which is needed for the detail of the decrease. It directs how the knitting piece will lay down. I’ll get into that more as I describe each stitch.
First up, will be the knitting decreases. These tend to be the most used stitches. That is because if you are knitting in the round, you are always knitting, but also when you work lace, many patterns will have the decreases on the knit (right side) side only. So, these will be very advantageous to have in your skill box. One of the common things I will say during the decrease instructions is slipping a stitch as if to knit, or as if to purl. So, I will put those two pictures here, so you can refer back to them, but I didn’t want to clutter up the instructions coming up with too many extra pictures.
Knit 2 together (k2tog): Knitting 2 together is exactly as it sounds. Slip your right needle into the two stitches on your left needle, and knit them as normal. Then slip both stitches off the left needle. This creates a single stitch, where there was once two. This gives you a stitch that will lean to the right. It is used on the left hand side of socks and hats, because when you look at the toe or the top of the hat, the left side of your toes or hat leans to the right. It helps to give it a smooth line of stitches.
Slip, slip, knit (ssk): Slip the first stitch on to the right needle, as if you were knitting it. Slip the next stitch on to the right needle, as if you were knitting it. Slip your left needle into those two stitches that were moved to the right needle, and yarn over to knit them together. Once again, this gives you one stitch, where there used to be two. The SSK will lean to the left. This get used a lot on the right hand side of socks and hats, because it helps direct that line of decreases to the left.
Slip 1, Knit 1, pass the slipped stitch over (S1, K1, Psso): This stitch sounds complicated, but it’s really just a blend of the first two. This stitch can be used quite often in place of the ssk, because many feel that it creates a neater stitch that will lean left. To work the stitch, slip the first stitch on your left needle, as if you were knitting it, knit the next stitch on your left needle, then insert your needle into the slipped stitch that is sitting on your right needle (it will be the second stitch from the end), and lift it up and over the first stitch that is on your right needle. Drop that stitch. This will decrease a single stitch.
Slip 1, Knit 2 together, pass the slipped stitch over (S1, K2tog, Psso): This stitch is a variation of the one above, but is used for different reasons, which is why I wanted to explain it. To work it, you slip the first stitch of your left needle onto the right needle, as if to knit. Then knit the next two stitches together. Pick up and lift the second needle on the right needle (the stitch you slipped), and pull it over the first stitch and drop it. This stitch will decrease two stitches. The counterpart to this stitch will be the Knit 3 together (k3tog), which will also decrease two stitches at once, and leans in the opposite direction. It’s the same method as the K2tog, so I’m not going to get into the how to’s on this one. I just wanted to make sure you knew what the opposite leaning version of this stitch is.
Central Double Decrease (CDD): This stitch is used very often when you want a decrease that does not lean in any direction. For example, when working a lace pattern where there are k2tog’s and ssk’s that come together in a bit of a point, the CDD is great at bringing them together to accentuate that point. It’s also used quite often when knitting a sweater neckline, particularly when you have a V neck sweater and want the neckline to keep that neat little V. To work this stitch, you will slip the next two stitches from your left needle, at the same time, as if to knit, on to your right needle. Knit the next stitch. Slip those two slipped stitches that are sitting as stitch 2 and 3 on your right needle, over the first stitch and let them drop. This creates a stitch that looks like a fatter little knit stitch. It keeps that knit stitch look, with no lean.
Now we’ll move on to the purl stitches. You will find that the language is very similar, and the main change is just moving from knitting the stitches to purling the stitches.
Purl 2 together (p2tog): Slip your right needle into the two stitches on your left needle, and purl them together. This creates a single stitch out of two.
Slip, slip, purl (ssp): slip the next two stitches on your left needle to your right needle, as if you were going to knit them. Slip your left needle into those two stitches that are now sitting on your right needle, and purl. This creates one stitch where there used to be two.
Slip 1, purl 1, pass the slipped stitch over (S1, P1, Psso): Slip the first stitch on your left needle to the right needle, as if to knit. Purl the next stitch. Pick up and lift the slipped stitch (2nd stitch on your right needle) over the first stitch on your right needle. This creates a similar stitch to the SSP, but many use it before they prefer the way that this stitch lays compared to the SSP.
As I mentioned above, there are fewer “common” purl decreases. There are other purl decreases, but they are not used often enough to showcase them here. If you are working on a project that lists a different stitch than these, please remember that a quick search online will provide a wealth of video instruction to help walk you through them. I recommend bookmarking ones you like, because you may not use them often enough to remember where you found them. I’ve been there many times, and have kicked myself because I could not remember the search string I used to discover my favorite videos.
We’ll be slowly increasing in difficulty as these posts progress, to learn how things work apart from just the stitches. If you ever have a question, or if I have not described something well enough, please send me a message. I want to do everything I can to help you in your knitting journey.
Be sure to read the description of the product. Some items are finished goods, others are patterns only. Dismiss