Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Tutorial: Charting Decreases

This is going to be a boring and technical post with no pretty pictures. I'm in the process of editing Willingdon in advance of sending out PDFs of the draft to my testers. I've just been through the instructions for the upper body, which involve both raglan and neck decreases. There's a lot going on all at once, as these decreases occur at different rates. It's one of those annoying situations where the instructions explain how to do the raglan decreases, then the next paragraph begins with those ominous words, "AT THE SAME TIME". Yes, I always write this phrase in bold caps, hoping to catch the attention of those knitters who have failed to read the entire pattern through before charging ahead (haven't we all been guilty of this?)
To simplify matters for myself, both as designer and knitter, I make charts. Here's an example of the chart for size 49".

I could do this with EXCEL, but find it much easier to use paper and pencil, which allow for more portable and easier changes. There's no definitive way to set these things up. I have separate columns for sleeves, body, and front sections. I show only RS rows. The asterisks show where to do the neck decreases. The dashes indicate RS rows where no decreases take place. As I work my way down a chart, I simply check off rows as completed. At any point I can double-check my stitch count, and most importantly, I never have to hold my breath as I near the end, wondering whether the whole decrease event will work out as intended. Try charting. You'll like it. Unless you crave suspense, that is.
*My chart has more numbers than you will need, as this is a designer's chart used in "grading" the pattern, i.e. writing it up in different sizes.