Support designers, read charts!

5 Jun

You know that big project I’ve been working on recently? The one that is a secret until July 28 and is the reason I haven’t been posting much on here lately? Well, it’s not done, but it’s close.

This project, a 50th birthday present for my mom, has been challenging at times because it is so big. However, the pattern is beautifully written by Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweed, and it’s interesting and rewarding enough to keep me going.

This pattern, like most Brooklyn Tweed patterns, is written with charts. Charts, for those who don’t know, are the little graphs that feature different notations or colors in certain squares to denote what type of stitch you should use. It’s a great way to compactly communicate a pattern and cut down on confusion for colorwork and lace projects.

As I’ve been working on my mom’s present, I’ve been checking the pattern page on Ravelry a lot to see other people’s projects and read their notes and suggestions. It’s a relatively new pattern, but luckily no errors have cropped up yet! During my research, however, I’ve come across a lot of comments from knitters who are angry that Brooklyn Tweed exclusively uses charts for the lace, cable and color repeats in their patterns rather than writing out the instructions line by line, row by row.

Several of these knitters have expressed the sentiment that they will wait until someone steals the pattern, writes out the charts, and offers it under a different name, perhaps with slight changes to make it legal. This is essentially a bootleg pattern, which undercuts the time and effort that the original designer and publisher put into writing and testing the pattern.

I’m angry about this. I understand that some people don’t know how to read charts. I understand that it can be inconvenient when a pattern is only written in a way you can’t decipher (you have no idea how many beautiful Icelandic and Finnish patterns evade my language skills). What I don’t understand is that nasty attitude and decision to acquire a bootleg pattern rather than take a few minutes to learn how to read a knitting chart!

There was a time when I couldn’t read charts. I read written instructions line by line, row by row, often losing my place or getting confused about the future of how my pattern was supposed to look. Without a visual reference like a chart, it’s also much more difficult to identify mistakes in patterns until after you’ve knit them in. I was also sad that a lot of beautiful patterns that I wanted to knit weren’t written out, but rather included charts.

Do you know how I handled that situation? I Googled “how to read knitting charts”. It worked like gangbusters. Knitting charts are simple to read once you know how, and there are so many benefits to using charts that I will often translate written instructions into a chart for myself if one isn’t included with the pattern. They are compact, convenient, and intuitive. That’s why so many great designers write them.

So, if anyone reading this doesn’t know how to read a knitting chart and would like to take an hour or so to learn, I’ve included some helpful links below. I know I won’t be making a difference to the people who don’t understand how disrespectful it is to steal a pattern rather than educate themselves about a fundamental knitting skill (reading charts), but this is a solidarity move.

I don’t buy bootleg movies, I don’t torrent music, and I buy knitting patterns if they aren’t legally offered for free. I know that in many ways the entertainment industry is set up to line the pockets of executives rather than artists, but knitting isn’t dominated by Sony and Fox Searchlight. There is a surge of innovative, high-quality knitting patterns coming into the market, largely from independent designers and companies. Let’s not discourage these hardworking artists by shrugging our shoulders when knitters would rather use a bootlegged pattern than learn to read a chart.

Learn how to read knitting charts, and tell your friends!

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One Response to “Support designers, read charts!”

  1. mama 06/05/2012 at 6:43 PM #

    You go girl, when I first started crochet doilies I learned how to read a chart. They (charts) are used in almost every type of thread/needlework!

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