Friday, March 7, 2014

Cabled Feather Cowl from The Studio - Day 4

Chart or List?  And a PRIZE for choosing!

Knitting patterns come in two varieties—the chart or the list.  If you’re very lucky, like we are the Cindy Craig’s Cabled Feather Cowl, you get both.  Each format has advantages and drawbacks, and most people have a preference.  Here’s my take:

Charts can convey a lot of information in a small space.  That’s handy if you’re traveling or if, like me, you take your knitting with you everywhere you go.  Charts also help you visualize the stitches—this purl sits atop that yarn-over from the row below, etc.—which can be handy to catch and fix errors, especially with repeats.  I find it much easier to get an overall view of a piece from a chart than from a list of instructions.  But there have been charts where the map key is so long I keep having to refer back to it to see what that little triangle means or whether that slashing line means make left or make right.  In this case, you’ve only got four simple stitch icons to know and the cable symbol—which in this case is visually helpful.

In most cases, they are just plain easier to follow.  Some of the “repeat from *” directions can get complicated, but there is an inherent clarity in having words walk you through the steps of each row.  I find lists easier to mark off, keeping track of what row I’m on.  Unless their are highly complicated abbreviations (not true in this case, but I’ve had some doozies that I had to write translations in the margins), there isn’t a lot of referring back to keys or glossaries.  I like written directions for cables because I’m forever forgetting which stitches go in the back and which go in the front.

I suspect if you are a highly visual person, you will gravitate to charts.  If you are a detail maven, lists might suit your taste.  Wise is the designer, however, who gives you both so that you can choose what you like.  I have often found, however, that sometimes I keep foot in both camps—conferring with charts and lists to give me the clearest picture of the pattern I’m working.

What about you, DestiKNITters?  Chart or List?  Chime in and you can win a free copy of my historical knitting novel, HOMEFRONT HERO. I’ll choose a winner from the comments next week.

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