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How Learning to Read Knitting Charts Is Like A Bicycle Ride Across France

Liat Gat - Founder

August 20, 2021

Written directions can give knitters a headache. On a chart, every stitch is marked in symbols. If you know how to read a knitting chart, you can understand the entire project, as well as the details, in just one look.

Imagine you are on a bicycling trip from Paris to Marseilles in the south of France.

Your bike trip dream awaits...On the flight over, you daydream of all the fun you’ll have. Popping into tiny cafes for tiny espressos. Breathing in the fresh air of a mountain pass. Sinking into a feather bed each night.

But will it come true? It depends on the kind of directions you use.

Navigating with written directions

Picture that, before you set out, the bike shop owner hands you six sheets of paper. They contain the written biking directions for your trip.

You scan the handwritten lines on the first page. It’s hard to tell how long the first leg of the trip will take, because each turn and twist is written down in great detail.

“Do not worry,” the shop owner assures you, “Every direction is there. Just follow them carefully.”

Bicyclist reading directions

You start off using his directions, which seem clear enough until you get to the first town you’ll be staying in.

You unfold your sheaf of papers. “Go for 2 blocks, then turn left. Then go for 4 more blocks and turn right. Then go for 1 block and turn left. Do that once more but at the end, turn right instead of left.”

What?! The bike shop owner must have a heckuva memory.

You set off, but as soon as you start to look around you, the directions fly right out of your head. You stop again to look at the papers. And again, a few blocks later. You dismount and walk with your bike alongside so you can better concentrate on the lines on the page.

After an hour, having progressed to the second page of directions, you still cannot find your hotel. Maybe you skipped over a step? You flip back a page and read the lines again from the beginning.

At last you see where you accidentally skipped a line that looked like all the others. Sighing, you turn back the way you came and finally see the B&B sign. What a nightmare.

Frustrated cyclist

It doesn’t have to be this way!

Reading a map

Rewind. You’re back in Paris again. This time, you ask the bike store owner for a map of the trail.

He hands you one with the route marked in red.

1960 Tour de France mapJust glancing at it you can see that it’s about 8 days of biking – longer than you had expected. Your mind already starts to plan. Maybe you’ll catch a ride part of the way.

You also see symbols for hotels, campgrounds, bike shops, and famous vistas. You see that a section of the route is marked “under construction.”

“A tire repair kit may come in handy that day,” you muse.

The map shows you other important things, too, like concentric circles marking steep hills. “I’ll need to conserve my energy for that leg,” you think.

After looking the whole map over, you feel confident and excited. You set out on your trip, forewarned and prepared for every turn.

You take in the scenery of the route, enjoy the trip, and arrive on the beach in Marseilles with sore legs but a happy heart.

Bicyclist by the sea

Why did it go so well? Because you used a map.

In knitting, maps are important too

In knitting, there are also directions. Whether you want to knit a hat, a baby blanket, or a teapot cover, you will need someone to show you how.

A knitting project always comes with written directions. On hard projects, they can make your head hurt just like they did for our unhappy biker.

However, if you are lucky, the project will also come with a map, called a chart.

On a chart, every stitch is marked in symbols. If you know how to read a knitting chart, you can understand the entire project, as well as the details, in just one look.

Just like the biker with her map, if you can read a knitting chart, you will be able to make any knitting project a success. But without the expensive trip to France.

Charts Demystified, coming September 15th, 2021Learn to read knitting charts like a pro with our new Charts Demystified video class, coming September 15th, 2021.

Already sold on knitting with charts? Pre-order the class for $1 and get 30% off when we launch.

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2 thoughts on “How Learning to Read Knitting Charts Is Like A Bicycle Ride Across France”

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  1. If I am a member of Knitting Superstar University and I get the Charts Demystified class free, what is the difference between it and pre-ordering the knitalong to work as a group? Do the free class members also get to participate or follow along in the knitalong or is the knitalong entirely separate from the class?

    1. Elias - KnitFreedom Customer Happiness

      Hi Peggy,

      Thanks for your questions and sorry for my late reply!

      The Charts KAL is an optional accompaniment to the Charts class. The class contains the videos and instructions you need to learn everything you know to knit any chart. You learn at your own pace and have access to all the materials and instructions and over 7 hours of video as soon as you purchase the class or sign up for Knitting Superstar University (which includes all our classes).

      The potential pitfall to any class where you can work at your own pace is that you may not take the time to actually watch the videos and do the knit swatches, and you will cheat yourself out of the opportunity to gain the knowledge you are seeking. Other things come up and the class exercises may fall to the wayside.

      The Charts knitalong solves this problem by helping you work through the Charts class as a group in small, weekly chunks. It ensures you will actually watch the videos and do the exercises since we will email you each week walking you through that week’s exercise and inviting you to post your progress and ask any questions in our knitalong group. You will maintain your momentum and the chance is very high that you will actually knit the swatches and gain the knowledge that you are seeking in buying the class.

      You will need to pre-order the knitalong in order to participate even though you have access to the class.

      I hope that clarifies your query!


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