My first foray into chart reading has ended and it ended well. I’m so happy with how this shawl turned out. But more importantly, I’m so proud of myself for tackling something that I have avoided doing for years.

This was a good pattern to begin with. 198 yds. of Heaven contains both a charted and a written pattern. As I was beginning, I could always fall back on the written pattern to make sure I was doing things correctly. Eventually, though, the written pattern became far more difficult to follow than the chart.

The most difficult part of chart reading for me is keeping track of where I was since the chart has to be read in a linear fashion from right to left, bottom to top. I tried several different ways to track where I was including check marks, crossing out rows and highlighting the pattern. None of those worked particularly well. Eventually I think I will purchase a “chart keeper” which uses magnets and a board. For now, I created my own. I put the pattern and a letter-sized piece of cardboard into a sheet protector (to keep everything neat and safe). I cut a thin strip of transparency plastic and used a light colored sharpie (and a ruler) to draw a straight line. Add a binder clip (and paper clip because I didn’t have two binder clips) and I had an easily moveable line to track where I was in the pattern. I also used a sticky note to track completed rows (to be sure). This worked like a dream!

This pattern was a really nice pattern to knit. It was easy to follow with clear instruction. The only thing that I didn’t realize when I first cast on is that I needed to read the pattern/chart right to left to the center line and then read it left to right after the center line. In hindsight it seems obvious but in the stress of first time chart-reading, I didn’t get that process and ended up having to pull out and start over.

That wasn’t the only time I had to start over on this project. When I was about 10 rows from the end, I decided to pull the whole thing out and start over on larger needles. And I was okay with that. This pattern was clear enough that I didn’t mind starting over. Plus, the original shawl was so tiny that even blocked, it probably would not have fit my cat. I’m doubly proud that I didn’t give up and just find something easier to knit. I cast on again and finished this.

As this is a lace project, blocking was very important. I picked up foam rubber pads from a local hardware store. Normally I use some foam core boards I have, but they just aren’t large enough and I wasn’t sure how much room I’d need for the shawl. The pattern says to “block aggressively.” Which I did. It’s amazing to me how the shawl opened up and the yarn overs really popped. I probably enjoyed blocking this more than a normal person probably would. I’m cool with that.

The yarn is Malabrigo. I had one skein of this beautiful color and this was a good pattern. I don’t actually know how many yards I used (does anyone actually measure what they’ve used vs. what is left?) but on US 10, I have a few of yards left to put into my scrap bag. Maintaining its position as my favorite worsted weight yarn, this yarn was a dream to knit with. And it’s so, so pretty.

Pattern modifications:
  • Knit on US 10. Pattern calls for US 8
Skills required: