Knit charts aren’t always rectangular – in fact some lace charts, for example shawls or doilies, can be very odd shapes indeed. The reason for that is that the chart is meant to show you only the stitches you actually need to knit. Because charts are a visual representation of the knitting pattern, it makes sense for the stitches to line up as they would in your knitting. Let’s have a look at the first chart from Elizabeth Freeman’s Laminaria shawl to illustrate the point.
We can see that the yarn-overs and decreases line up to form a pattern, and can easily use it to ‘read’ our knitting – for example we know that the yarn-overs on row 5 should be directly above those on row 3. The stitch count increases on row 3, and so the chart gets wider at that point. But how about those black columns? The pattern key says they mean ‘no stitch’ – but why include those blocks if there’s nothing there to knit?
Lets see what happens if we take those columns out:
If we’re just knitting the chart row by row and paying no attention to the other rows, this makes much more sense – we just knit the stitches we see, and it will turn out just fine. The two charts are, in effect, exactly the same. But suddenly the chart as a whole is harder to read, as we can no longer see the overall pattern or work out what stitches are meant to be over stitches in previous rows. If you make a mistake or get lost, it’s going to be much harder to read your knitting against the chart to see where you are and where you went wrong.
So, ‘no stitch’ in a graph means just that – nothing here to knit, ignore this bit and work straight on, but designers include them to make patterns easier to follow.
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