Using Our Patterns

If you are new to using patterns with diagrams, you may find that once you get used to them they will change the way you think about knitting patterns.  After years of writing patterns in the traditional American manner, I've come to believe that conveying most of what you need to know with a simple diagram makes everyone's life a little easier - both the designer and the ultimate knitter.  You can download a copy of the following explanation here.

Si vous souhaitez cette explication en français vous povez le trouvez ici.

Getting Started
The diagram system we used is based on a pattern style developed in Japan. The first thing you will usually see is a line drawing of all or part of a garment, along wiht some letters, numbers and a great big arrow.  Here's an example.

The big arrow tells you where you where you will start knitting as well as the direction, ad the numbers underneath tell you how many stitches to cast on.  One of the ways that our patterns differ from traditionally-written Japanese patterns is that we included multiple sizes, so unless it's a one-size piece you will see at least 3 sets of numbers corresponding to the different sizes (unless, of course, the number is the same for all the sizes).

To the right of the diagram you will also see dots and numbers that indicate rows.  So for this sweater you would cast on, for example, 104 stitches then work 6 rows in whatever stitch and using whatever needles size is indicated in the accompanying text, and so on.

Now, when the diagram shows a big letter with a circle around it, that's where you will be doing a bit of shaping, such as casting on extra stiches in order to make a sleeve or binding off for a neck.  the shaping instructions are found in an area near the diagram in a series of boxes with numbers in them, something like this.

Each box is read from bottom to top.  The first number indicates the total number of stitches you will be increasing (+) or decreasing (-) in this area.  The next set(s) of numbers indicate just how these stitches will be increased or decreased.  Each setof 3 numbers tells you on which rows you are increasing (or decreasing), the number of stitches, and the number of times you work that increase (or decrease).

For example, in the box above that corresponds to shaping section A for size 1 you are told to increase a total of 72 stitches.  On row 1 of the shoping you cast on 12 stitches, and you do this once (1 - 12 - 1).  Then every 2nd row you cast on another 12 stitches, and you do this 5 times (2 - 12 - 5).  It's that simple.

Where there is an area that requires shaping, the diagram will show you in general what this shaping looks like and will send you to a box where you'll find the specifics.  You'll note, for example, that the A appears on both sides of the garment in the diagram above since you are increasing for sleeves on both sides.

Occasionally you will see a shaping instruction appear right in the diagram.  Usually it appears at the center of a neckline where you are to bind off a certain number of stitches in the middle and then gradually shape each side of the neckline separately using shaping instructions found in a lettered box.

Something to keep in mind about shaping.  The rows in the shaping sections are not generally included in the rows shown between the dots along the right side of the diagram, although there are sometimes exceptions.  There is no particular reason for this except that since the shaping instructions in the boxes give you a set number of rows it would be a bit redundant.

All of the other important information you need to make the piece, like stitch pattern (although it can also appear in a chart), needle size, and finishing will be found in the test that accompanies the diagram(s).

Special Graphics
In some diagrams you will see dotted lines along with the usual solid lines that show the outline of piece.  Here's an example.

Dotted lines usually mean there's a fold, much like in sewing patterns, and in this case because there are dotted lines on both sides of what appear to be a whole garment, and a circle with an arrow on it underndeath, the diagram is showing that the garment is to be worked in the round.  All of the other diagram elements would remain the same, in cluding the numbers of stitches and rows and the shaping indicated by the circled letters.  You'll still need to remember that once you get to the armholes the front and back are worked separately as flat pieces.

That's about all there is to it.  Happy knitting!