Learning to Read Crochet Charts

After our last post on learning to read knitting charts, we had several crocheters ask us if we could do a similar primer for reading crochet charts. In today's post, we'll cover the basics of charted crochet patterns so that you can comprehend and follow them with ease!

What are Crochet Charts?

Crochet charts, quite like knitting charts, are graphic representations of patterns. They often save time and space as opposed to providing full written directions, and for some they are easier to follow than long rows of text instructions.

Crochet charts appear quite different from knitting charts, because often crochet charts are depicted in symbols that look like crude representations of the stitches. Therefore, they are organized less in grid format, and look more like a 2-dimensional representation of what you will be creating in crochet stitches. Here are a few important things to keep in mind when working with charts:

The Craft Yarn Council has adopted a standardized set of symbols to be used in crochet charts. Familiarizing yourself with these will help you in using charts. We love this chart created by Dabbles and Babbles which summarized the most frequently used symbols (and includes both US and UK terminology!)
And here is an example of a crochet chart (courtesy of Red Heart):

Working the Charts

So how do you begin working from a charted pattern?

When working flat (back and forth), crochet charts are worked in rows (numbered as above), from right to left, and from bottom to top (much like knitting charts). Repeats in the chart are bracketed, and color changes are indicated by the letter above. In the introduction to the pattern, the colors associated with those letters will be defined.

When crochet charts are worked in the round, they start at the center and work outward in a counterclockwise manner. If you’re working in the round, your chart may look more like this (chart courtesy of Bluprint):
As you can see, the arrow indicates the starting point, and the rows are numbered on the upper right diagonal, moving outward. You will begin to work counter clockwise continuing through the rounds as you do so.

A quick note: if you are left-handed, you’ll need to reverse the charts. You can do so by mentally flipping the image or you can physically mirror the image using graphic software. You may find this Ultimate Guide to Left-Handed Crochet useful in learning to adapt patterns for your use. When working a pattern in the round, you’ll be working clockwise instead of counterclockwise.

Tips for Working With Charts
As we recommended in our last post, the easiest way to learn to work from charts is to select a pattern that has both written instructions AND charted instructions. That way, as you’re reading the chart, you can compare the symbols in the chart against the written instructions (hint: they should match!).

If you’re most comfortable working with paper charts, our Pattern Holders (shown above) are magnetic boards that come with sturdy magnets to hold your pattern in place, along with an extra long magnet to keep track of your rows. You can also use one of our Row Counter Rings to track your progress and keep you from losing your place!

If you’re looking for more tips on learning to read crochet charts, we like this video from Marly Bird!

Like this post? Pin it!

Learning to Read Knitting Charts

If you haven’t worked with knitting charts before, being confronted with one can feel like trying to decipher a secret message without your decoder ring. We hope today’s post will help you learn to read knitting charts like a pro!

What Are Knitting Charts?
Knitting charts are graphic representations of knitting patterns. They often save time and space as opposed to providing full written directions, and for some they are easier to follow than long rows of text instructions.

Charts are generally organized in a grid format. Here are a few important things to keep in mind when working with charts:

Working Flat vs In The Round
The pattern should tell you whether the chart is worked flat (back and forth) or in the round. Charts are designed to show you the right side of your knitting work. So, if you are working flat, you will read and work the right side rows from right to left and the wrong side rows from left to right. Pay careful attention to whether the chart starts on a right or wrong side row!

If you are working in the round, you will work every row on the right side. That is, you will continue to read and work every row from right to left.

Note: Some charts will omit wrong side rows from the chart entirely. This is common in lace patterns with "rest rows," where most of the wrong side rows are purled. If your chart omits wrong side rows, be sure to check the written instructions for how to work wrong side rows.

Last but not least, when you work a chart, you will always start by working the row at the bottom of the chart first, and then working your way up through the rows of the chart to the top. Most chart rows will be numbered accordingly to direct you.

What Do The Symbols Mean?
Every chart should come with a key or legend. The key will contain the symbols used in the chart and define what stitches those symbols represent. If those definitions are in the form of abbreviations, the pattern should have a glossary of terms as well, particularly in the case of cables or more complicated stitches. So you can always refer to the key when you come to a symbol to determine what stitch you should work.

Some symbols may refer to patterns that require more than one stitch. For example if you are working a 2 by 2 cable, the symbol on the chart should span 4 boxes on the chart to note the 4 individual stitches involved.

Some symbols will refer to patterns that require more than one stitch, but will only take up one box. For instance, in the case of a k2tog, the symbol will only appear in one box. As with written patterns, that k2tog will either be paired with an increase (later in the row) to maintain the current stitch count, or will be worked to decrease the total stitch count.

If you are increasing or decreasing stitch counts, the number of boxes (stitches) on the next row will be more or less as the pattern has directed. As you increase (or decrease) you will encounter boxes that are greyed out and represent “no stitch” to match the pattern.

Charts can also be useful when knitting colorwork. Written instructions indicating frequent color changes can be unwieldy, whereas graphic representations can explain to you easily what your pattern should look like and which colors you should work when. In this case, the chart may or may not have symbols, but instead the grid boxes will be colored according to the pattern, indicating which colors you should work on which stitches. All the previous advice applies, as does our next topic: repeats.

Repeats within charts are often defined by a colored or bolded boundary box around the part of the chart that is to be repeated. You may encounter this in a pattern that is growing (like a triangular shawl) where additional repeats of the stitches within the boundary are knitted each time you repeat the chart, or you may encounter this to save space when knitting a project that is worked over a static number of stitches. In this case, you will work the stitches prior to the boundary box, repeat the stitches within the boundary box until you only have the correct number of stitches remaining to finish working the stitches beyond the boundary box.

Tips For Working With Charts
If you’re just starting to work with charts, we’ve got some tips and tools that will make working from them much easier! Especially if you're new to charts, you may find it helpful to select a pattern that has both charted and written instructions. That way, as you’re reading the chart, you can compare the symbols in the chart against the written instructions (hint: they should match!).

If you’re most comfortable working from a paper pattern, we recommend printing out the chart you'll be working with, making it as large as possible while still fitting on the page.

It can be difficult to keep track of which row you’re on, especially in complex charts - but don't worry, we have a few options to help you here! Our Pattern Holders are magnetic boards that can keep your pattern flat and accessible. Each pattern holder comes with strong magnets to secure your pattern in place, and extra long magnet strip that works as an indicator guide. The pattern holder will lay flat or can stand up when open, allowing you to glance at it easily as you work through your chart. Some knitters also find removable highlighter tape to be a useful guide while working through the rows of a chart.

If you have one of our Ginger interchangeable needle sets, a pattern keeper is built into the case (shown above)! The section opposite the needles is magnetized and a magnet has been included so you can keep your pattern handy along with your favorite needles.

As with written repeats, you may find it helpful to mark where a new chart repeat begins in your knitting using stitch markers; our new row counter rings are another handy tool for keeping track of row counts in your knitting.

For additional resources on how to read charts, check out this tutorial from Tin Can Knits: How to Read a Knitting Chart.

We hope this post inspires you to give knitting from charts a try - we can’t wait to see what you make!

Like this post? Pin it!

Spring Charity KAL/CAL: Warm Up America!

We're hosting a charity Knit-along & Crochet-along this spring in our Ravelry group! Benefitting Warm Up America!, we're challenging our fans to see how many squares they can make during the month of May - and we're providing FREE knitting needles and crochet hooks to any participants who need them! Keep reading to find out how you can join us in making the world a better place with knitting and crocheting.

Warm Up America! accepts knitted or crochet squares that are 7” x 9” which are used to make afghans that are distributed to individuals and families in need. The foundation maintains a database with requests from social service agencies at a community level as well national chapters organizations such as the American Red Cross. As afghans are received and assembled, they are shipped to the agency at the top of the list.

All squares need to be made with machine washable and dryable acrylic yarn, and you can find free knit and crochet patterns here on the Warm Up America website.

Knitter's Pride will provide US 7 single pointed knitting needles or H8 crochet hooks to all participants who need them; click here to submit your request by March 22 so that we can ensure timely delivery.

Between now and May 1, we encourage you to check your gauge to ensure that your squares will meet the specified dimensions; the 7″ by 9″ template was selected because it is a convenient size to form blankets of varying dimensions, and receiving donations that are uniform in size make it easier  to join sections knitted and crocheted by different people across the country.

To make measuring easier, you can cut a 7"x9" piece of cardboard or card stock to use as you knit or crochet.

Click here to join the conversation in our Ravelry group, where you can share your tips for making squares, which colors you'll be using, or other charity projects you're currently working on. Sharing photos is encouraged!

At the end of the KAL/CAL, we will award prizes to the participants who make the most squares between May 1-31 as outlined below. Prizes will be announced and awarded in June.

We hope you'll help us spread the word by sharing this blog post with a friend, inviting them to join our Ravelry group, sharing on social media using the #knitterspride and #KPcharityKALCAL hashtags, or sharing this post on Pinterest using the graphic below.

Diversity & Inclusion at Knitter’s Pride

Over the last few months, there has been a serious conversation in the knitting community surrounding diversity and inclusion; to be clear, Knitter’s Pride welcomes every maker, regardless of age, ability, gender identity, national origin, race/color, religion, sexual orientation or size. We value our diverse community of crafters and seek to provide an environment safe for everyone.

With that in mind, we would like to share with you the mission of our brand and the actions we are already taking to put our words into practice.

Our Workforce
More than 900 people work together to create our products; each needle passes through more than 40 pairs of hands before it reaches your knitting basket. Our workforce comes from diverse backgrounds, but they all have one common goal: to excel at whatever they do. To help them get to work safely we provide them with transportation - buses to carry the women safely to work, and bicycles for the men to ride.

Employment for Women
As a matter of policy, we have reserved most of our job openings for women who approach us for employment. At present, 350 members (almost 40%) of our workforce are women. For many of these women, this is their very first job. The money they earn helps them run their households but more importantly, it helps them ensure that their kids get the best education and health care.

While some of the women that join us may be apprehensive at first, it is not long before they are confidently working on the machines, attaching the cable to the needle tips, and packing and checking the needle tips in the most rigorous way to ensure that the best possible product reaches our customer.

Education for our Children
Part of every purchase you make from Knitter's Pride is used to manage and operate a school for underprivileged children who do not have access to formal education. Apna School (which means ‘Our School’) provides education to more than 900 kids, most of whom cannot afford to spend even one US Dollar every month on their studies. Knitter’s Pride runs this school with the help of village elders as a community project and ensures that no child within a cluster of 4 – 6 adjoining villages goes uneducated. Over the last 30 years, the extreme poverty rate in India has fallen more than 30% and the World Bank strongly believes that education is key to poverty reduction.

Oxfam recently reported that 78% of children who don't have access to primary education are girls. Studies show that when we educate girls, we help them reduce poverty rates and child marriage. Educated girls have higher engagement in personal, familial and community decision making.

Everyone at Knitter's Pride is extremely proud of our role in these global humanitarian efforts. Thank you to everyone who has ever purchased our products because YOU also have a role in that effort.

Charitable Work
Beyond our own community, there are so many wonderful charities which accept handmade items for donation. Over the years we have donated Bamboo needles & hooks to the Mother Bear Project, a non-profit dedicated to providing comfort and hope to children affected by HIV/AIDS in emerging nations.

Mother Bear Project believes that the simple act of providing comfort to a child in the form of a bear can have a very large outcome; they have been knitting together people of all generations, abilities, and faiths for nearly 12 years to provide bears to children unconditionally across Africa whose lives have been affected by HIV/AIDS.

About our Social Media Channels 
 It is important to us that all of our associates around the world reinforce our brand values for inclusion. Our US-based social media team will be undergoing diversity and inclusion training on how to effectively manage complex discussions in our media feeds.

Our position is to ensure that we continue to listen to the community about this important topic while also ensuring a respectful, safe place for all crafters.

Please understand that if we determine that our social media channels ever become a platform for intolerance or previously published content no longer aligns with our brand mission, we reserve the right to close commenting, block users or delete content.

We hope that you will continue to join us as we work to make the crafting community a more diverse, inclusive space for all crafters. After all, we believe- and we have demonstrated for over 30 years-that through knitting we can make the world a better place.

Shirish Jain on behalf of the entire Knitter’s Pride family

The Basics of Knitting with Chain Plied Yarn with Vickie Howell

Do you stare at gorgeous hanks of lace or fingering weight yarn and cringe at the thought of knitting them up on tiny needles? Is one of your new year's resolutions to use up your stash, but you have a lot of oddball skeins you aren't quite sure what to do with? Then today’s post is for you!

Vickie Howell used our needles to demonstrate the basics of chain plying (also commonly referred to Navajo Knitting) in Episode 103 of Ask Me Monday, and ever since we've been intrigued. Chain Plying comes from the world of handspinning: it's the process of plying a single strand (ply) of yarn back onto itself to create a 3-ply yarn. This is achieved through an elongated crochet looping method.

Applying this concept to your knitting means that you can take ANY yarn and twist it back on itself by using an elongated crochet chain so that you’re then knitting with three strands of yarn all at once. If that sounds complicated, don't worry - it just takes a little practice to perfect, and then you're on your way to reinventing your yarn stash!

For instance, when you chain ply lace weight yarn it can be knitted at a worsted weight gauge, sport weight yarn can be knitted at a chunky weight gauge, and worsted and bulky yarns can be knitted on jumbo needles or even used in arm knitting! This is also a great way to mix and match different yarns in your stash.

While we're speaking in generalities here, these are just guidelines to help you choose the appropriate needle size for your resulting yarn weight. Knitting a gauge swatch or measuring WPI (wraps per inch) will give you more accurate information. Here, we've chain plied a variegated lace weight yarn and knitting a triangular shawl with the resulting 3-ply yarn on US 9 Needles from our Knit & Purr holiday gift set:

Pattern Inspiration
Chain Knitting can be applied to just about any pattern, and we've rounded up a few popular free patterns to start with: Create a cozy hat with Pennyroyal by Tracy Lambert, just add a pom pom and you’ll be stylish all winter long! The Bandana Cowl by Purl Soho would be perfect for using up a gorgeous skein (or three!) to knit this wonderful winter accessory. If you have some huge skeins of lace or fingering weight that you're dying to use, try Reyna by Noora Backlund, a simple shawlette worked in garter stitch and mesh lace. To use up your heavier weight yarns, Jen Geigley’s GAP-tastic Cowl is an excellent choice.

PRO TIP: Since you’re triple-stranding your yarn, your total knitting yardage will be ⅓ of the length listed on the skein label! 

We can't wait to see what you make - please share your projects with us in our Ravelry group or on Instagram using the hashtag #knitterspride!

Like this post? Pin it!

Contest: Tell us your #CraftyProblems!

Happy New Year! Whether you're new to crafting or have been been crafting for a while, there are a unique set of problems which those of us who work with yarn face. Share your favorite #knitterproblems, #crochetproblems and #yarnproblems with us in our Ravelry group for a chance to win one of these great prizes: a set of Ginger Interchangeable Circular needles, two Knitter’s Necklace Kits, and two Shawl Pins!

Contest rules:
1. Must be a member of the Knitter's Pride Ravelry Group (we'll send you an invite you can accept if you are posting as a guest). 
2. Share your #knitterproblems, #crochetproblems or #yarnproblems with us in this Ravelry group thread. You can enter as many times as you like, and your creativity is encouraged!
3. The contest thread will be locked on Thursday, February 7. Our winners will be selected at random and announced on the Knitter's Pride Blog on Friday, February 8.
4. Sharing your entry on social media is encouraged, but not required! Be sure to use the #knitterspride hashtag along with #knitterproblems, #crochetproblems or #yarnproblems.
We’ll get you started with a few problems you may have experienced:
We've all told ourselves "Sure, that mistake will block right out!" While we firmly believe in the magic of blocking, there are a few things that even blocking can't fix!

That feeling when you pull your yarn out of your project bag, and it's a tangled mess!

Even the most experienced knitters can have things go awry...

We can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Like this post? Pin it!

Crafty Resolutions for Knitters & Crocheters in 2019

Will you be making any yarn-related resolutions for 2019? The new year will be here before you know it, and now is the perfect time to set some goals to guide your knitting and crocheting next year. Here are some ideas you might want to try in 2019!

2019 "Make Nine" Challenge
If you only had time to make 9 projects in 2019, what would they be? We've gotten lots of inspiring pattern ideas just by exploring the hashtag #2019makenine on Instagram. The "Make Nine" challenge  is self-described as "A gentle, self-guided slow fashion initiative for fabric and yarn lovers," meaning that it's low-stress AND easy to customize for your preferred craft and skill level. You could challenge yourself to make 9 simple baby hats or 9 adult-sized steeked color work sweaters if you are so inclined! Following along with what other folks intend to make and how they progress throughout the year will be just as fun as sharing your own to-do list and progress.

Ravelry Project Challenge
Let's face it, most of us knit or crochet more than 9 projects in one calendar year - that's where a new feature on Ravelry can come into play! Earlier this year, Ravelry introduced the Project Challenge. If you look in your Notebook on Ravelry, on the menu bar at the top right (under your profile), you’ll see a Challenge button:

Simply click on that button and enter how many projects you wish to complete in 2019 to set your personal goal for the year, and Ravelry will automatically update your running count of projects for each one you mark complete in your notebook. Similar to #2019MakeNine, this is also a self-directed challenge that can be as high or low stress as you like!

Maybe you’re looking to try a new technique in 2019? There are so many groups on Ravelry that you’re sure to find a group of people who love the technique you want to try. Have you always wanted to learn brioche but were scared to try? The Brioche Knitters group can help. Wanted to cable, but were intimidated by the addition of a cable needle? Check out Cable Lovers. Have a life-long goal to tackle that Niebling lace? Try the group dedicated to the work of Herbert Niebling. We’re confident that there’s a group for you no matter what you want to try.  

Did you want to focus on crafting a certain type of item in 2019? Are you a sock addict? Try Sock Knitters Anonymous for those who just can’t stop knitting socks. Bump it up a notch and knit 12 or 19 sweaters in 2019 with this ambitious group! Or take on the 12 Shawls Forever challenge and knit 12 shawls in 2019 and beyond. Whatever you want to knit, there’s a group for that!

Yarn Tourism
A great way to meet fellow yarn lovers and dive deeper into your craft is to a attend special events and classes. There may be several fun events happening right in your own backyard, but have you ever thought about traveling to a special destination to celebrate all things yarn?

There are knitting events held worldwide that are amazing to attend, destinations such as the NY Sheep & Wool Festival (often referred to as simply Rhinebeck, for the name of the town the event is held in), Maryland Sheep & Wool, and the Taos Wool Festival, are popular destinations for fiber enthusiasts. Stitches Events and Vogue Knitting Live events are held at different times of the year in various cities around the country. If you live outside the U.S. or are up for big travel try the Edinburgh Yarn Festival in Scotland or Knit City in Canada.

You can also check out what your local or regional fiber guild has to offer or plan to attend one of the big shows elsewhere in the country; Clara Parkes keeps an extensive list of events here on the Knitter's Review website.

Make Yarn A Part of Non-Crafty Resolutions
At the start of a new year, lots of people pledge to get better organized or start a new health or workout regimen - and wouldn't you be more likely to stick to those resolutions if they somehow involved yarn?! That's what we thought!

There are lots of fun bags, bins, and boxes you can knit and crochet to take control of the clutter in your life. Here are a few free patterns to try: Small Hanging Basket by Hobbii Design (Crochet, shown below)Geometric Basket by Jamey from Dabbles & Babbles (Crochet)Piece of Cake Basket by Ladybug Designs (Knit) or the Sandhills Basket by Winnie Marie Designs.

You'll be less likely to blow off yoga class if you have a lovely hand knit or crocheted yoga mat bag to show off! Try the crocheted New Year, New Yoga (Mat Bag) by The Yarn Engineer or Miriam Katherine's knitted Behold the Spirit Yoga Mat Bag, both of which are available for free on Ravelry. For FitBit users, there are a few free knit and crochet patterns cropping up on Ravelry (see them all here); shown below is the Fitbit Pocketby Mwaa Knit, which looks like a fun way to use up leftover yarn to create a colorful necklace to keep your fitness tracker safe. 

We'd love to hear about your crafty resolutions for 2019 (or how you plan to incorporate yarn into your non-crafty resolutions!). Share your resolutions in the comments for your chance to win a Knitter's Magnetic Necklace Kit! Be sure to also mention your Ravelry ID or email address so that we can contact you if you win. We'll randomly select one lucky winner to announce on our first blog post of the new year on Friday, January 11. Good luck!

Like this post? Pin it!