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In the latest installment of our Foundations series, we walk you through the fundamentals of reading knitting charts — deciphering chart symbols, determining the direction of reading, working simultaneously from charts and written instructions, and more. Today, we’re sharing our tips and tricks for keeping track while reading charts so you can have a more manageable, stress-free, and enjoyable experience while knitting.

Keeping Track of Rows or Rounds

Charts are read row by row or round by round, much like how you would work a knitted item. However, as you progress from the bottom to the top of the chart, it may become easier to lose track of which row or round you’re working on in between looking at your knitting and looking at your chart! If you’ve printed out your chart, an easy way to help keep your place is to line up a ruler or other straight-edge above the row or round you’re working (shown above), then moving it up as you progress. This way, you know that the row or round directly below your ruler or straight-edge is the one you’re working, while still being able to see how your stitches on that row or round are lining up with the stitches below it.

You can also use highlighter tape or decorative masking tape to keep your place in a chart (shown above). These tapes peel off easily without damaging paper, making them convenient for moving around as you progress through your rows and rounds. They’re also semi-translucent, which is handy because you’ll know that the row or round directly below the line of tape is the one you’re currently working, but you’ll still be able to see through the tape itself and anticipate what will be involved in the upcoming rows or rounds.

If you prefer to work from charts on a computer or other device (as opposed to on paper), you can use the menu bar on your PDF-viewing application (e.g. Preview or Adobe Acrobat) as a straight-edge. Simply scroll up across the pattern PDF until the rows or rounds above the one you’re working are hidden from view. For example, if you’re currently on Row 9 of a 20-row chart, you can scroll up the chart page of the pattern PDF until Rows 10-20 are hidden from view and you can only see Row 9 directly below the grey menu bar (shown above). Then, you can scroll down, revealing the rest of the chart row by row as you progress.

Some PDF-viewing applications also allow you to create a colored line that can be moved around on the page as needed.

Keeping Track of Different Types of Stitches

If you’re working from a chart involving many different types of stitches (e.g. directional cable crosses or twists), it may become difficult to distinguish their symbols from one another on the chart. Moreover, having to continuously refer back to the chart legend may hinder the flow of your work. One good way to easily separate multiple stitch symbols (that may look similar but involve different techniques) from one another is to code them by color. You can assign different colors to different stitch symbols on your chart legend, and then color them on the chart (either with colored pencils, highlighters, or highlighter tapes) according to the color code you’ve established.

For example, in the chart shown above, we assigned the color green to a 2/2 LC-purl and the color pink to a 2/2 RC-purl on the chart legend, and then applied those colors accordingly to the symbols on the chart itself. The contrast in color then quickly and easily shows us that on Round 3, the 2/2 LC-purl is worked before the 2/2 RC-purl.

Keeping Track of Multiple Charts at Once

If you’re working from a pattern involving multiple charts, it may become cumbersome to repeatedly flip through your pattern pages to switch from chart to chart. However, there are a number of ways you can make working from multiple charts more manageable!

If you’re working different charted motifs section by section up the garment (e.g. Byway, which alternates between a Moss & Garter Block Chart and a Cable Block Chart), you may simply rearrange the pages of your pattern such that the charts are closer to the written instructions in which they are mentioned. If you’re working from the pattern on a computer or other device, some PDF-viewing applications like Preview or GoodReader will allow you to move pages around in the document.

If you’re working multiple charted motifs across the same row (e.g. Ondawa, which involves working from a horizontal sequence of different cabled chart motifs on the body), we suggest printing out your charts, trimming the pages, then taping them together in the order that the pattern instructs you to work from them. Don’t forget to print your chart legends, too! Also keep in mind that the direction in which you should read your charts — not necessarily the order in which the charts are mentioned in the written instructions — will determine the order in which you tape them together.

For example, if the written instructions tell you to:

For circular knitting:

Round 1: Work Chart A over next 10 stitches, slip marker, work Chart B over 20 stitches to next marker, slip marker, work Chart C over 30 stitches to next marker, slip marker, work Chart D over 20 stitches to next marker, slip marker, work Chart E over last 10 stitches.

For flat knitting:

Row 1 (RS): Work Chart A over next 10 stitches, slip marker, work Chart B over 20 stitches to next marker, slip marker, work Chart C over 30 stitches to next marker, slip marker, work Chart D over 20 stitches to next marker, slip marker, work Chart E over last 10 stitches.

Row 2 (WS): Work Chart E over next 10 stitches, slip marker, work Chart D over 20 stitches to next marker, slip marker, work Chart C over 30 stitches to next marker, slip marker, work Chart B over 20 stitches to next marker, slip marker, work Chart A over last 10 stitches.

… you may not want to tape your printed charts together as Chart AChart BChart CChart DChart E, even though they are mentioned in the written instructions in that order. Here’s why:

Because charts illustrate the RS of the fabric and RS rows or rounds (flat or circular) are read and worked from Right to Left (←), you should tape your printed charts in that sequence as well, with the first chart (Chart A) starting on the right and the last chart (Chart E) ending on the left: Chart E + Chart D + Chart C + Chart B + Chart A. This way, the direction and flow of your reading won’t be interrupted as you move from chart to chart. If you’re working the charts circularly (i.e. you’re working every round on the RS), they’ll already be arranged in a Right to Left Sequence. If you’re working the charts flat, they’ll already be arranged in a Right to Left sequence for RS rows and a Left to Right sequence for WS rows.

The diagram above shows more clearly how you’ll read from chart to chart on RS rows in both flat and circular knitting (red arrows) and on WS rows in flat knitting (green arrows).

And there you have it — we hope these tips will be a helpful companion to you in your journey to charted knitting territory. Have tips to share from your own chart reading toolbox or have other chart-related questions you’d like us to tackle? Feel free to leave them in the comments or get in touch with us at support@brooklyntweed.com!

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Patch, our third Outpost pattern, pays homage to many a knitter’s first project — the humble garter stitch scarf. Lisa Carney-Fenton elevates this tried-and-true formula with four striping options and a clever method for a polished edge: her Elegant I-Cord Edge technique, which involves concealing the non-working yarn inside the edging, keeping it tidy and eliminating the need to weave in multiple yarn tails during finishing. These thoughtfully-considered details make Patch a delightfully versatile pattern to knit and an effortlessly cool scarf to wear.

Handknitting kits — ready to cast on or gift — for the Broad Stripe version of Patch in Arbor are available now in our webstore through the end of December. We thought up eight playful color combinations to give you an idea of the myriad possibilities our Arbor palette provides!

If you’d like to try your hand at assembling your own unique color combinations for the multiple versions of Patch, why not try experimenting with the schematic provided in the pattern? We’ve found it to be quite a useful visual tool when planning our alternate color combinations. Plus, there are few things more fun than a knitterly coloring page (download here)!

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In the second and third installments of our Foundations series, we covered the basics of swatching and seaming to aid you in tackling your knitting projects skillfully and confidently. Today, we’ll show you a quick and easy way to further practice these foundational techniques: by repurposing and seaming swatches to make lavender sachets!

These sachets are a delight to make for a number of reasons. First, they hit the sweet spot for both process knitters and project knitters — they’re truly approachable and suitable for practice because of their size and they make lovely, sweet-smelling finished objects that you can keep in a knitting bag or use in your knitwear care routine.

Second, they can be a great way to keep inspiration around you at all times. Perhaps you have a swatch for a visually-appealing intricate colorwork motif, or for a tactile-pleasing textured stitch pattern, or even for a simple stockinette fabric in a memorable yarn. Zip them up into a sachet that you can take with you for moments when you need a boost of creativity, or use to decorate your living or work space. (This project was inspired by the many development swatches we have strewn about the Brooklyn Tweed office!)

Third, they also make charming holiday gifts, either on their own or as a companion to another handknit.

What you’ll need

1) Two swatches of the same size

You can repurpose swatches that you already have or knit up two squares following our instructions in Swatching 101. Alternatively, you can use or knit up one large swatch that you can then fold in half to create your sachet (this method leaves fewer edges to seam).

2) A darning or tapestry needle

3) A few yards of firmly-spun seaming yarn in a matching color and of equal or lighter weight than your swatch yarn

4) Locking stitch markers or coilless safety pins

5) A sharp pair of thread/yarn snips

6) Loose lavender (cedar chips or shavings work well, too)

7) Fiberfill for stuffing (you can use wool roving or polyfill)

Zip it up!

Stack your two swatches with wrong sides facing each other, then seam the bottom and the two sides following our instructions in Seaming 101.  You can play around by mixing and matching the swatches that you choose! We made the sachet pictured above using two swatches for Galloway, with one side using the main colorwork motif and the other side using the lice motif on the body of the cardigan.

Once the bottom and sides are seamed, stuff your sachet with fiberfill and a couple scoops of loose lavender using the top opening. You can sandwich your loose lavender in between the fiberfill to prevent them from coming out of your fabric or bunching at the bottom of the sachet. Finally, seam the top closed. To hide the end of your seaming yarn, snip it leaving a tail of a few inches, then bury the darning needle in the sachet from a corner while scrunching the sachet. Push the needle back out, snip the end, then let the tail retract back inside as you coax the sachet into its original shape.

Alternatively, you can fold one large swatch in half; the fold will eliminate one seam. You can then seam two more sides before stuffing and seaming the sachet closed. You can also play with swatches knit in the round. We made the sachet below with a colorwork “tube” swatch by simply seaming the bottom, stuffing the pouch, then finishing off the top.

The rectangular shape makes this particular sachet work well as an eye pillow or as a wrist rest, so you can experiment with sizing too! For example, if you enjoy knitting large swatches, you can certainly repurpose them into a luxurious lavender-stuffed cushion.

However you choose to customize your sachets, we hope you’ll delight in the opportunity to practice foundational techniques on a small but gratifying project!

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“There is more to life than simply increasing its speed.”
– Mahatma Gandhi

Knitting, like painting or sculpture, is a source of self-expression. What’s more, the fruits of knitting provide us beautiful and practical means to warm ourselves and those we love. It’s completely portable, ready to travel with us to our favorite solitary places in nature, and is just at home in social situations, being shared with those who understand the joy of it.

Knitting also supplies an antidote to the vexing velocity of our time. A few rows of friendly garter stitch can erase a day’s decision fatigue, calming our system and gently transitioning us into quiet time at home. The scent of wool, the bounce of each stitch as its woolen crimp responds to our touch, the sense of mastery as we make sense of new techniques and store them forever in our mental toolbox, are visceral satisfactions. Perhaps we are responding to something deep in our human wiring, a common memory for a different rhythm of life.

If thinking about all this makes your heart flutter a little, we’re right there with you. Our Outpost letter — traditionally an introduction to each of our collection lookbooks — is expanding into a monthly newsletter that allows us to share more stories and thoughts on knitting. Our journey in developing yarns from scratch has introduced us to unexpected and thought-provoking people, places and ideas — we want to share more of them with you.

We’ve also reimagined Outpost to serve as a resource for techniques we’ve learned along the way — details that elevate hand knit garments to timeless items you can fold into a classic, well-considered wardrobe. For this inaugural Outpost, we offer helpful advice on selecting a sweater size and calculating ease.

We support slow fashion and want to explore this inspiring movement with you in coming issues. We look forward to having an ongoing conversation about ideas of quality over quantity, of reclaiming calm from the sometimes frantic pace of daily life.

Select Outposts will include a new pattern that is designed for meditative, beginner-friendly knitting. The joy of knitting need not be complicated, and these patterns will allow for a reprieve from busy days and bigger projects throughout the month. (October’s Outpost will feature a new pattern from Emily Greene.)

We are excited to be kicking off our Outpost series — with every successive newsletter arriving the first Wednesday of each month (click here to sign-up if you’re not yet a subscriber) — and hope you’ll warm your favorite mug and sit with us a bit. We’re glad you’re here.

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