Soakbox Knit-A-Long: Elvis Paisley

Needles

This is another pattern where we would suggest using a magic loop method if you are comfortable with that. The patterning on the mitt is split across two unequal sections which may make magic loop a little awkward, but would also solve the difficulty of having to move stitches around a lof from needle to needle when working the decreases and increases on the large paisley motif. If you are more comfortable working on dpns I would suggest starting out with an even number on the needles, then shifting stitches around once you get up to the thumb.

Reading Charts

Lets talk a little about reading charts. While the pattern for Elvis Paisley isn’t necessarily difficult, it can be a bit intimidating if you have never read a chart before. With a few tricks and a bit of patience, figuring out this chart will be no trouble. I am going to go over reading charts in the context of this pattern. If you are looking for some more information or more guidance on reading charts, I would recommend the book Charts Made Easy: understanding knitting charts visually by JC Briar.

First off, the best thing about knitting charts is that they help you see your knitting visually. The charts make a picture, and that picture is then reflected in the texture of your knitted fabric. While written out instructions may be more accessible, it can be easy to loose ones spot in the pattern, and it makes finding a mistake more difficult. With some pracitce it is possible to look at a chart and understand better where your stitches are trying to go in order to find out where a stitch may have gone wrong.

There are a lot of people who believe very strongly in charts, or are completely against them. We decided to go with only charts for a few reasons. One is that we didn’t have a lot of space. Since this is a printed pattern it was necessary to save space, and there just wasn’t any room for written instructions as well. Another reason is that the mistakes that show up in knitting patterns almost always happen in the written section. From an editting perspective it is really hard to catch a mistake in a bunch of written abbreviations, rather than in a charted format, even with tech editors and test knitters. It is one thing to have a few simple lines written out than 64 rounds of pattern where each round is completely different from the next.

Charts can look overwhelming, but the best way to go about things is to take it one stitch at a time. Just as with learning knitting abbreviations, the information is all there, you just need to know how to look for it. Every chart should have a key, just like in a map. The key will tell you what each symbol on the map means and how to work it. The Elvis Paisley chart is printed on the back page.

Each box in the chart represents a stitch a chart is read as you work your knitting. The first stitch of the first row is the bottom right hand corner. The chart is read from right to left. Because this project is worked in the round, the beginning of each round returns to the right hand side. For a flat piece you would read the chart from right to left for one side, the left to right for the next.

Everyone has a different system for helping them read a charted pattern. Some people have no problem reading the charts as written, but it is not a bad idea, especially if  you are new to them, to use a few aids to help you along.

1. Marking your rounds. The idea is to mark each row as you go along so that it is easy for you to tell which row you are on without getting lost. There are a few ways to do this, and you will find one that works best for you.

One option is to highlight each row as you get to it. This is great, but gets tricky if you want to re-use the pattern, or if you need to follow a chart a second time in the pattern. I would suggest photocopies for this option.

Post-its are great. You can move them up the rounds as you go along, and they are great for writing bonus notes on them as well. The downside is that they can fall off, and that can cause its own problem!

One of the best options is something called highlighter tape. It is a transparent piece of Scotch tape that can be put on your pattern. It is sticky enough that it will stay where you put it, but low tack so that you can pull it up and replace it each round without damaging the paper.

Another great option is a magnetic pattern holder, like these ones by Knitter’s Pride. The board holds your pattern up so you can see it easily while you are knitting, and the magnetic bars can be moved along to mark your spot as you go. The whole thing folds up nicely into your bag so nothing gets mushed up or lost.

2. Marking your stitches. As I said before, each square on the chart is a stitch in your knitting. The easiest stitches are the empty boxes, those are knit stitches. The dashes are purls. A / is a k2tog and a \ is a ssk. The great thing about these two symbols is that they make the shape of the stitches they are representing. The reason a / is a k2tog is because that is the way that decrease leans. So you can see from the pattern how the top of the paisley motif will come to a point because there are a number of rounds in a row that have / and \ coming together to a point as well. Similarly a O is a yarnover, as it makes a little hole in your knitting.

The trickier stitches are the little cable stitches on the pattern. These are actually rectangles, as the action they represent involves two stitches at the same time. They follow a similar standard as the basic decreases in that the ones that lean left will have stitches that lean the same way, and vice versa for the right. There are four different cabled stitches in this chart. Don’t get too worried though! They are only minor variations on eachother. However, if you are concerned about keeping track of them, it might be handy to pick out four different colours of highlighter or coloured pencil, then go though the pattern and colour them in. Colour your key similarly and then you just have to keep track of which colour you are working on.

For this pattern, the cast-on instructions are on the back. You cast-on the appropriate number for the size you are making, then work the first 4 rounds of ribbing. Then you switch to working from the chart. There are two large red lines on each chart that bracket 4 stitches. This is so that there could be some size variation in the chart, without having to make 3 separate charts. While working across the chart, the stitches between the red lines are worked (or not worked) according to the size. For the smallest size the red lines are skipped all together, for the medium the chart is worked exactly, and for the large the stitches are worked twice, for a total of 8 stitches.

Another unusual section is the thumb. On the chart the thumb stitches are represented by a bunch of @ symbols. That isn’t a stitch! Don’t worry, we didn’t forget about the thumb. Once you get to the first @ stitch, flip your pattern to the back and follow the instructions under “Work thumb gusset”, then return to the chart for the remainder of the round. The pattern alternates between written instructions for the thumb and charted instructions for the body of the mitten.

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