I still consider myself an advanced beginner or intermediate knitter. This is partly because I am a perfectionist and partly because I also refuse to believe I master anything. It’s an ongoing conundrum up inside my head. Having been knitting for two years, I have learned a lot already, but I still have so much to learn and many new techniques still intimidate me. In 2016 I am tackling two of these – I am making my first sweaters and I am mastering fair isle knitting. No doubt you will see sweater progress on WIPs Wednesdays or hopefully, Finished Fridays. Today, however, I wanted to share with you an invaluable tool that makes so much difference and yet is so simple that I am sure I am the last person to know of its existence.
When I first started reading charts, I found them complicated to understand and frustrating. If a pattern wasn’t written out row by row, I avoided it. As I made more and more patterns that used charts, it became easier as most things you practice do, and I no longer live in fear of the chart. (This is good, as I fear a lot of things, and chart reading was taking up some of my fear mongering time.) Last year I took a class to learn how to do Fair Isle using the ever popular Baa-ble Hat as my learning project. This was the first chart I had to read that involved not just stitches, but also colors, and to say that I got overwhelmed and thought my head might explode is probably accurate. It’s very easy to lose your place when you have so many things going on in one grid lined sheet of paper.
To try to make finding my place on the chart easier, I first used a ruler to try to keep place. The ruler worked fine until I tapped the table or moved. Then the ruler shifted and I was lost all over again. (Have I mentioned I am clumsy, yet? If not, let me tell you I am quite possibly the clumsiest girl alive. Knocking into a table I am sitting at is the least of my problems.) I then tried the sticky note method, which solved the shifting but didn’t reach across the entire chart, so I found myself using multiple sticky notes across the page which made it time consuming to move up each row. Electronic chart applications such as Knit Companion are available, but I am an android user, so that option wasn’t available to me. (Plus, I am trying to disconnect from so much screen time. I stare at a computer all day for work, read almost exclusively on Kindle these days, and my phone is constantly alerting me. Knitting time is disconnect time for me.)
At a knitting class one day, I was introduced to my answer for the conundrum of finding my place in the chart. Highlighter tape can be used to mark your place in the chart in one long, continuous strip and can then be lifted and reset under the next line at the end of each row. The adhesiveness is strong enough to allow you to keep using the same strip over and over for quite a long time. As an example, I used the same strip for the entire Baa-ble Hat chart. It is inexpensive, comes in multiple colors if you want to color code your work, and is an easy solution that makes reading charts a lot easier for those of us that don’t find chart reading intuitive. Check it out and see if it works for you as well as it does for me! Now that I am using it on a much more complicated and longer chart, I find it invaluable.