Hot Tip: Annotate your charts

Hot Tip: Annotate your knitting charts

A good chart is a thing of beauty unto itself, but knitting from one can be a little daunting — especially if it’s numerous stitches wide and/or many rows tall. Each of our brains works differently, so it’s important to be able to annotate a chart in whatever way makes it make the most sense to YOU. Pictured here are Meg Strong’s chart and my chart for the project we’re both knitting. And you can see our two minds reflected in them:

— Meg has enlarged hers to 8.5×14 and attached it to an 11×17 sheet of paper, along with the stitch guide and legend, and she’s color-coded all of it with highlighter pens. Each color indicates a different cable stitch, and the corresponding description in the guide is highlighted the same color. As you can see, it makes each of the cable stitches stand out more clearly from the surrounding stitches, and it’s easier to follow the direction of the cables as they lean this way and that — especially within the honeycomb. (Note that she’s also opting to mirror the diamond cables so they twist toward each other, rather than having them all twist left as written, so she’s simply made a note beneath the center crosses about which direction she’ll twist.)

— Me, I’m perfectly happy in black-and-white and small-scale. But for my brain to make this digestible, I have to divide it up into its component parts. I’ve drawn a rule (that’s design-speak for “a line”) down the chart to separate each of the sections. (“Like with like” is my mantra in all of life.) This way I can clearly see the honeycomb portions, the slipped-stitch portions (with flanking purls), the diamond panels, and the braid. The purls no longer blur together and the rows are broken up into easily memorizable chunks. And everywhere I’ve drawn a rule on the chart I’ll also place a stitch marker in my knitting. So I always know exactly where I am, and never have to think very hard about it. If I get off course, I’m going to know it within a few stitches without even looking at the knitting — the stitch markers will let me know.

The point being: It’s your chart; make whatever kind of marks are helpful to you!

There’s also the matter of keeping track of what row you’re on. I’m a big fan of a wide post-it note or piece of post-it tape, and I place it below the row I’m currently working. I like to be able to see where I’m going, since my knitting shows me where I’ve been. But lots of people do the opposite. This here post from almost exactly one year ago is also full of great advice from you guys about other ways to track progress, so check the comments on that. And if you have anything to add, let’s hear it!

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AND HERE’S ANOTHER HOT TIP: You can cable without a cable needle. If you find cable needles too fussy and want to learn how to do without, Kate posted a tutorial on the Kelbourne blog.

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Amanda knitalong: Meet the Panel!

Amanda knitalong: Meet the Panel!

When Anna and I first talked about finding a fisherman cardigan to knit together this fall, I never imagined what it would evolve into. Today I’m thrilled to introduce the group of five amazing women who’ve agreed to knit the Amanda cardigan in the spotlight with us — forming our so-called Panel of Experts — and I’m already in love with this project based on what follows. (Be warned: this post is mammoth so I’ve broken it onto a couple of pages.) To introduce you to the seven of us/them, while also giving you some food for thought with regard to your own Amanda, I’ve asked a few simple questions about the decisions we’ve each made so far. I’ll go first, since that’s my swatch adorning the top of the post, but make sure you click through!

As promised in the big planning post, Kate’s detailed post on how best to swatch for this will be up on Monday! So if you’re at all uncertain about where to start, sit tight, savor this post over the weekend, and we’ll have that for Monday morning.

—kt

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KAREN TEMPLER, of this here blog and Fringe Supply Co. (Instagram: @karentempler)

Yarn: I’m using natural-colored O-Wool Balance, which is a machine-washable blend of 50% organic wool and 50% organic cotton. I love the fabric this yarn creates — very light and soft and multi-seasonal — but I also intend to wear the hell out of this sweater, so I want it to be easy to wash.

Swatch: I knitted the back chart from the right side over to the center braid because I wanted to see the whole thing — especially since there are no photos of the back of the sweater. And I also did a little ribbing at the top and bottom, wanting to see if it rolls nicely into the stitch pattern. I got gauge on US8s and thought I would probably like the fabric better if I went down to 7s. It turns out I’m really pleased with the diamond panel after washing and drying the swatch. But after the wash, my honeycomb cables are sort of spreading out — they look like I’m doing some trendy drop-stitch thing. I don’t hate the look of it, it’s just not intended. And I haven’t done honeycomb before so I’m not sure if it would be solved by going down a needle size? So I’ll swatch it again on 7s and see what I think.* I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on that. Also, my swatch is only 3 inches of pattern height so I have a general sense of my row gauge (and that it will shrink up about 8-10% in the wash) but will measure it again once I’m 4 inches into the body.

Cast-on: I’m planning to do a tubular cast-on. I like that more substantial edge.

Size/ease: With my big shoulders, it would be easy for this sweater to make me look like a linebacker, so I’m planning to keep it fairly fitted. But I do button my cardigans sometimes and will be layering this, so want a little bit of ease. If I go ahead and knit it at pattern gauge, I’ll probably go with the size 35, which is about a half-inch of ease. If my gauge gets smaller/tighter (going down a needle size), I’ll cast on the 38 knowing it will come out somewhere between the 35 and 38.

Concerns/trepidations: I’m a little concerned about the neck shaping. Based on the pattern and many of the project photos, I think it’s perhaps too sloped (not rounded enough) to lay nicely. So we’ll talk about neck shaping as we get into this whole thing.

Body construction: Haven’t decided yet, but I’ll probably knit this in pieces, as written. I’m toying with knitting the body in one piece but I don’t think I want to knit rows that long in this stitch pattern. Each row would take me an eternity, whereas shorter rows will make me feel like I’m making progress. Plus I like a side seam.

Button bands: I’ve never done them the way this pattern is written so I’m eager to see how that goes. I might put a ribbon backing on it, though.

Other mods: I have long arms, so I’ll need to tamper with the sleeve lengths. And again, I know my sweater is going to get shorter when I wash it (this is why we block our swatches!) so I need to put some extra length in the sleeves and body to account for that. I also think I’m going to do a right-cross center cable in the diamonds on one side, and a left-cross on the other side, so they’re mirrored instead of all twisting the same direction.

*Although this time I’ll do it as Kate recommends in her post about swatching, which will post on Monday!

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Amanda knitalong: Meet the Panel!

ANNA DIANICH, Owner of Tolt Yarn and Wool (Instagram: @toltyarnandwool)

Yarn: Imperial Yarn Columbia 2-Ply in the color Natural

Swatch: For my swatch I followed the sleeve chart and started with a US8 needle and then went down to a 7. I got gauge on a 7. The fabric is a little dense but the cables look great. I think this garment will be rain- and wind-proof.

Cast-on: Long-tail, because that’s how I roll.

Size/ease: Choosing a size is always difficult for me. I decided on the 35″ — I hope it’s not too snug.

Concerns/trepidations: I’m knitting this in pieces as written. I usually avoid seamed knits so I’m a little nervous about this. Since it’s seamed, I won’t be able to try it on which also makes me a little uneasy.

Body construction: I’m knitting it in pieces, yikes!

Button bands: I haven’t decided on this yet. I think I might just do the button bands as I’m knitting the front pieces of the sweater. Is this a bad idea? Anyone??

Other mods: I love Karen’s idea of mirroring the diamond shape cables so I’m going to make that mod.

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Amanda knitalong: Meet the Panel!

KATE GAGNON OSBORN, Co-owner of Kelbourne Woolens (Instagram: @kelbournewoolens)

Yarn: The Fibre Company Savannah in Natural

Swatch: I got gauge (astonishingly both stitch and row!) on US7. I knit 3 separate swatches. (More on this in my post here on Monday.)

Cast-on: The good ol’ long-tail.

Size-ease: I’m knitting the 2nd size, the 35″ bust. That is 0″ ease, which I think will be good for the cardigan. (I typically wear cardigans open.)

Concerns/trepidations: About many, many things. (Why does my kid love pistachios, but cry when I try to feed her fruit? Will our dog ever get to a point where he doesn’t need twice-daily insulin shots? Should we look into that safety recall, or after 120K miles are we confident the brakes on our car are probably fine? …) Happily, none of them are Amanda-cardigan related, though!

Body construction: Pieces! Forever and always!!

Button bands: Definitely not as written. I can’t decide whether I am going to knit them as I go, or pick them up. I think I might pick them up because I don’t like the look of loose ribbing and it will be too loose on the 7s if I knit them with the body.

Other mods: I already cast on fewer stitches for the sleeve cuff, but will increase before the cabling to match the pattern. I also plan on doing the yoke in pieces and seaming it all. It isn’t really a mod, but I’m cabling without a cable needle throughout.

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New Favorites: Lena Samsoe’s fisherman cardigan

New Favorites: Lena Samsoe's fisherman cardigan

To call this Amanda cardigan a “new” “favorite” is the most hilarious of understatements. It’s been on my Ravelry favorites list for over a year, but it recently surfaced again. And it goes well beyond favorite and deep into obsession territory. I’ve long been planning to knit myself an ivory cardigan, to replace one I had to retire, and have been searching for just the right pattern. And you know I love nothing more than a good fisherman sweater. But I resolved to make my ivory cardigan an aran one after a layover in the Chicago airport in early June. Anna and I met up there on the way to Squam and found ourselves stalking a woman in the boarding area. We were convinced she was headed for Squam, too, and thought she might actually be one of our shuttle-mates. She was wearing flip-flops, jeans, a cute indigo floral-print top, and the most gorgeous handknit fisherman cardigan. We stared and whispered and speculated, and Anna finally worked up the nerve to ask her if she was Squamwardbound. She had absolutely no idea what Squam was and was definitely not who we thought she was. But in the aisle of the plane, standing around the baggage claim in NH, we couldn’t take our eyes off her sweater. So Anna approached her again and asked if she could take a picture. The girl was not a knitter, but she said she loved the sweater because she suspected it was handknit (I can’t remember how she said she came into possession of it), and it definitely was. It was gorgeous.

Not long after we were back, Anna texted me while I was out for a walk one night and asked me if I remembered that sweater. I said I hadn’t been able to get it out of my mind, and she asked if I knew a good pattern. I’ve bookmarked many over the past few years — remember it was the idea of knitting my own fisherman that made me want to know how to knit in the first place — and I eventually found my way back to this pattern, Amanda by Lena Holme Samsoe. I try really hard to focus on downloadable patterns here on the blog, but this one is from a book, Essentially Feminine Knits. I ordered it the moment I rediscovered the pattern, got it in my held mail upon return from NC, and there are a bunch of good sweaters in there.* I know this because I did flip through it quickly when I pulled it out of the envelope, but once I got to the Amanda page I laid it open on my desk and it’s been sitting there staring at me (and vice versa) ever since.

So I’ll be rearranging my to-knit list a little bit to make room for Amanda right after my Channel. (OK, there may be some overlap.) Anna wants it in wool and I want it in cotton or a blend (more Balance, perhaps?), and we’re thinking of knitting it together beginning in September. Not tag team, just knitalong. Let me know if you want to join in!

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*Check out this woman who seems to be knitting her way through all the sweaters in the book! Including two Amandas.

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