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!


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.


PREVIOUSLY in Hot Tip: Remember right- vs left-leaning stitches

30 thoughts on “Hot Tip: Annotate your charts

  1. good morning, Karen! love all the posts for the KAL – even though I am not knitting along! my knitting group (who are all Taproot subscribers!) has decided to take on the Barn Sweater as a KAL so I’m thinking there will be lots of information from your blog for us to follow to insure a GREAT finished piece! You should also know that we are all ordering from Quince & Co, in part because of your high recommendations and constant use of it for your own projects – can’t wait til the package arrives so I can see what all the fuss if about! Anyway, just wanted you to know that your tips and advice are VERY useful and appreciated! Keep up the good work my friend!

  2. I usually just annotate my charts with color coding the way Meg does, but I love your idea of drawing lines to mark the different segments of the pattern. I think I might start doing that, as well!

    • Can’t thank you enough for the idea of using vertical lines to compartmentalize specific components of a charted design. I had to hit myself on the side of the head that I didn’t think of that because that is exactly what how I annotated hundreds of DNA sequences on reams of paper for years (vertical line and color annotation). Seeing your example reminded me of how they are similar :-D

  3. I do the color thing as well, especially if it’s something with 8+ different cables like one of the last projects I worked on. My patterns are always marked and mangled by the end.

  4. Honestly. This is the most useful and inspiring series of information. I plan to knit along with the Amanda pattern. I would never have had the confidence to go it alone. You and the knit along panelists are helping me immensely to feel that this project is do-able. I was trying to decide how to mark my charts. In the past, I have used a cookie sheet and and a magnetic strip under my chart row. I’m absolutely going to use your marker approach too. Love this! Thank you!!

  5. This is so good! I do the color coding too!!! I also use about 25,000 stitch markers in my work when cabling, which is completely unnecessary, but it works for me!

  6. What works best for me is reading my knitting. While knitting I try to anticipate the next stitches: How should they behave? This way I hardly have to look at the Amanda chart. I don’t do the honeycomb but a different small cable.

    What does not work for me is knitting “along” with you other participants.
    For this kal I entered instagram and webstagram and even looked into twitter. For looking at the pictures it’s okay, although I won’t upload with my little phone and little upload rate.
    For reading and really getting into connectionI might need a chart *ha-ha*.
    Just too much.

    I startet to put my knitalong informations into my ravelry project page.
    Karen, have you maybe considered a ravelry group/knit along thread? I know you put so much effort in the kal, please read it just as a humble consideration.


    • A Ravelry project page is perfect, Tally — and discussing here and linking out to your pics is exactly what I’m hoping everyone will do. Thanks for leading the way! And your knitting looks beautiful.

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  9. I work in black and white as well, but aditionally use thin mt washi tapes as a marker for the row I’m on. I started this when knitting Meghan Fernandes Quadrillion (PomPom 6) that works with cables with different row counts so at some point it got confusing without the visual help of my seven or so washi tape strips!
    I’m knitting along with the Stonecutter instead of the Amanda! (Just realized it was open to non-Amanda knitter as well!) And sharing pics/comments/construction stuff both on

    – ravelry:
    – Instagram:

    So much fun to be all knitting cabley stuff and I love hearing why each kal board member makes which knitting decision! A really great idea!

    • That’s amaaaaaazing. I’m so obsessed with that sweater. And funny that you’re knitting it in the recommended yarn for Amanda, which I’d never heard of before. Do you like it?

      • Yeah! I knit the Brooklyn Tweed Svalbard in it as well (I might have ordered three sweaters worth of yarn this spring all at once… ahem) and it is a reaaaaally great cabler with a nice drape to it as well! I also love the contrasting tweed flecks! Didn’t find a lot of yarns that have that apart from the BT Shelter in my research! The only thing that I would change is the fuzz the Alpaca fibers bring to the table. But it doesn’t obscure the cables so I don’t mind much! (and it’s so cozy!)
        I have been admiring the O-Wool Balance! How do you like it a little further into the project?

        • I totally love it. It really wants to be knitted (especially cabled) on 7s, for me, which puts it at a really different gauge than this pattern calls for. I might have considered switching yarns, except I had already knitted half of my Channel out of this and knew how much I loved and wanted to wear that fabric, so I was convinced to stick with this, and I’m sure I’ll be glad I did in the end. I can’t stop fondling my swatch, so that’s always a good sign!

          • I’m sure you’ll work it out! After all (at least for me) loving the fabric you create is so much more important than ‘getting gauge’ also: bonus fun math!

  10. Thank you for these interesting tips. I will try both and see which is better for me.
    I may even combine the two.

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