June 2005

Charts vs. Written Text

We all use charts for multi-color knitting/crochet such as Fair Isle, Intarsia, or Filet Crochet. But when it comes to other patterns such as lace and cables, some of us feel uncomfortable and do not even look at charts. Well, maybe I can convince you to change your mind and give charts a try.

For someone like me who grew up in another country where knitting and crochet magazines were hard to find in the native language, using magazines in other languages was almost impossible without charts. Although I was fluent in English, even if I got my hands on a magazine with written English text, the text looked like hieroglyphs to me. I remember once I bought an English crochet stitch dictionary with written text and no charts. I was able to figure out some of the patterns by just looking at them, but for more complicated ones, the written text did not make any sense and caused me a lot of frustration and sorrow. For me, the only way to use those magazines was reading charts, and I believe everyone else can learn to read them too.

Reading charts opens the door to a wonderful new world of using patterns printed in other languages such as German and Japanese that many of us might not know. If we can figure out the key to the chart, which most of the time is standard, then it is easy to read it and enjoy making something unique.

If you have to put down your project in the middle of a row, finding your spot in written text takes a long exasperating time. However, since the chart looks a lot like the project itself, finding your spot will be a much easier task.

Some people might have problem reading fine charts and keeping their spot. If enlarging the chart is not practical, a magnetic line magnifier that many cross-stitchers use can help.

For more advance knitters and crocheters, charts help in re-gauging the design when they are not using the same weight yarn as mentioned in the pattern or need a size that is not provided. Using charts will eliminate the need for rewriting the whole pattern and possibly making mistakes.

For designers, it is easier to locate a mistake in a chart rather than in written word. Most of the time a chart resembles the finished work. So by just looking at it, you can figure out if it is correct or not. This reduces the amount of work for editors. Also, it will eliminate a lot of errata in magazines and pattern books, creating much less frustration and confusion for the users.

So next time you find a beautiful design in chart format, do not be discouraged. Take a close look and try it. It might be hard for the first time, but when you get hang of it there is no going back; I promise.

Nazanin S. Fard

Needlecraft University

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