A funny thing happened recently. I was looking at a photo of a hat — a hat I really wanted to make — and when I found mention of the source, it was a free Tanis Gray pattern that I had already saved to Evernote some time ago. At the time I downloaded it, I was probably very pleased to see that the instructions were written rather than charted. And yet this time, when I opened up the PDF, I instantly thought “Why is there no chart for this?,” reached for the nearest notebook, and spent all of two minutes converting the pattern from its published state into a few lines of shorthand plus the brief chart, all of it committed to memory in the process.
Thinking about it, it’s odd that I ever preferred written patterns, since I’m an intensely visual person and have a somewhat photographic memory. Things make more sense to me in diagram than written form, always have. Maybe it’s simply natural for any new knitter to want the knits and purls spelled out for them? I know I was once intimidated by the idea of reading and working the wrong-side rows of a chart for a flat piece. But a dinky little chart for a hat in the round? At some unrecognized point, I guess it became hard for me to imagine not preferring that.
Within a week of the hat incident, I ran across the Fred Perry patterns mentioned in yesterday’s post. The first one I downloaded was the gold aran cardigan, and — just like I had been when I downloaded Stonecutter — I was really excited to see the charts. I laughed out loud when I saw that the whole fisherman-cable sweater was written out, row by row. What torture to try to knit from that! I knew immediately that if I were ever to knit it, I’d chart it first. (As well as making sure it would have arms. Hopefully everyone saw my update about the kerfuffle on yesterday’s post. I still find the whole thing puzzling.)
All of which has got me wondering whether this is a matter of personal preference or knitting confidence level or what, and which brings me to today’s Q for You: Do you prefer a pattern be written or charted, or does it vary with circumstances? And if the latter, when do you prefer which? (As always, there’s no wrong answer — I love hearing all the different perspectives.)
On a related note, the book in that photo up there is of one of my trusty Doane Paper notebooks. Chad Doane is a newly met second cousin of mine, in my hometown of Kansas City, and I’m in love with these notebooks. Not just because of Chad and KC, but because he’s cleverly obviated that age-old debate between ruled or gridded pages. His grid+lines paper is the best of both worlds, and I’m really thrilled to now be carrying these great little notebooks at Fringe Supply Co., so you can get your very own!
PREVIOUSLY in Q for You: What’s your best advice for new knitters?