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Workshop With Cookie A: Intuitive Chart-Reading

Blog » Designing Patterns » Workshop With Cookie A: Intuitive Chart-Reading

Workshop With Cookie A: Intuitive Chart-Reading

Alex Capshaw-Taylor

March 8, 2011

Guest blogger Alex Capshaw-Taylor attended world-famous sock-designer Cookie A.'s workshop, and, in a three-part guest blog series, shares with us her biggest takeaways. Here, what she learned about intuitively reading knitting charts.
Designers Alex Capshaw-Taylor and Cookie A.

Fun news! My friend and fellow knitwear designer and instructor, Alex Capshaw-Taylor, owner of WorldKnit and Handspun, has volunteered to share with us her experience of a weekend class she took in October with one of the knitting world’s most famous and beloved sock designers, Cookie A. This two-part post will reveal the secrets she learned.

A weekend with Cookie A., by Alex Capshaw-Taylor

Two weekends ago I was lucky enough to attend the Weekend with Cookie A. knitting retreat in Solomons, MD. I arrived early Saturday morning and parked along the bay.

Getting out of the car I was struck by the island’s beauty– the sun glistened on the water as seagulls perched on a nearby pier. The location for a peaceful weekend of knitting couldn’t have been better.

The view from our "classroom"

Intuitive Chart Reading Means Faster Knitting

The retreat started with a class on intuitive chart reading. Cookie loves charts, and after her explanation of how easy they are to read, I do too!

When I knit Jared Flood’s Green Autumn Mittens I remember how long it took having to go back and forth between the chart and the key.

I wish I knew then what I know now- with a basic understanding of how and why charts are written I can save time because I no longer have to flip back to the key. Check it out:

All-Purpose Charts Always Show The “Right Side”

Avoid flat knitting charts; all-purpose charts are the way to go (see the gansey examples below).

All-purpose charts will give you directions for both the RS and the WS, but will always show you what the RS should look like.

Remember when you are reading all-purpose charts for flat knitting you start from the right and move to the left. Row two starts on the left and moves to the right. If you are knitting in the round you always start on the right hand side.

Flat Knitting Chart
All-Purpose Knitting Chart

Understanding Cable Symbols

A cable symbol can be broken down into two parts– the stitches that are put on the cable needle (left side of the symbol) and those that are knit first (right side of the symbol).

The other thing to look for is the direction of the cable– left or right.

Cookie taught us a saying to help you remember-“I LEFT you out FRONT, but I will be RIGHT BACK.”

  • If the cable symbol leans to the left then you put the cable needle to the front.
  • If the cable symbol leans to the right then you put the cable needle to the back.

You can also combine symbols within a cable so that you can purl or knit through the back loop.

Don’t miss part II of this workshop series – Resizing Stitch Patterns and Creating the Perfect Rib

About the guest-blogger: Alex Capshaw-Taylor blogs at, and you can see her handspun yarn and knitted creations in her Etsy shop.

Keep Reading:

If you liked this guest post on charts and cables, post in the comments!

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