Saturday, February 23, 2008

Why charts after all?

I just complained a few days ago that I can't knit using the chart description (instead of the chart itself).
A few nice ladies sent me some links so I can learn the meaning of k2tog, ssk and such.
Well I don't think I was clear enough. It's not that I don't know their meaning, is just that I refuse to knit following step, by step, by step, by step, [100 by step], [100 by step tbl], instructions.
All I need is a chart and maybe a legend to explain the symbols in case they are not the standard ones.

Now, before jumping into why are the charts important, let's first discuss the main types of charts.
Basically, I would say, there are two types of charts : great charts and rubbish charts.
A great chart will use symbols which are visually very near to the real knitted swatch. See the Japanese charts.
A rubbish chart will use symbols which visually look like anything else but the result itself. Best example, my last Sandra lace cardi chart, where the right slant and the left slant decrease symbols are far from being even symmetrical.

Next. Lets see why are charts good for us.

1. The chart is giving the visual context of our knitting. We see what we knit. We do not knit blindly. We can double check easily that we are on the right track.
Like exploring a new territory with a good map in your hand.

2. The chart helps us to figure out where we are. Imagine retrieving a project three years old, and God knows what row number is that on the needles. And no chart.

3. Charts help us to discover errors in the pattern and correct them on the spot. They make counting and visually aligning stitches easy.

4. Charts are universal. You can send a good chart in space and they'll figure it out in no time. Send the description and you'll lock them for ever. The best example is the k2tog instruction. Some people can knit 2 stitches together and get a nice right slant decrease. Others, like me, can do the same, and get a nice left slant decrease. We are called continental combined knitters. So k2tog does not help us at all...But a right slant decrease symbol in a chart would.

5. Now listen to this, because that's where it gets really important. Charts make you think. Charts make you creative. Charts will make it easy for you to change any element, to insert a new element if you fancy so, to modify the original. Can even teach you and make it easy for you to attempt to CREATE YOUR OWN PATTERN next time you attempt a new project. They teach you to be become a designer. Words don't. Words will make you a robot following rows of instructions.

I wonder why is it that some designers (or publishers?) do not publish the charts. It will definitely take less space. And it's quite obvious this is the way they created the pattern in the first place anyway.
Might be because it's financially more profitable to train an army of followers which are mechanically knitting word by word by word ...and thus will have no further knowledge nor creativity desire to break free from their published books ? Just a thought...


me said...
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fluffbuff said...

I'll pick a chart over written instructions any time, unless it's a "rubbish chart" as you so well put it. :)
I am also amazed that new books are coming out without charts. I understand that some knitters prefer written instructions and I am not advocating publishing charts only, but why, oh why, step-by-step only?