As I continue to scheme and dream about my two intarsia pillows, I’m thinking about drawing up a chart for part of my design.
To help make it easy to draw, I’m going to use knitting graph paper.
What is this witchcraft? Won’t ordinary graph paper do the trick?
Such good questions!
What It Is
Knitting graph paper has rectangles, not squares.
The challenge is that a knit stitch is wider than it is tall—not square—when working stockinette stitch, which is what intarsia typically uses. (Textured intarsia, lace intarsia, and cable intarsia will be the subject of Field Guide No. 304, at which points our heads will implode and that will be the end of us.)
This means that if you chart a design for intarsia using ordinary graph paper—drawing a circle, for example—the resulting knitting will look a bit wonky. A circle will knit up as if you pulled it on each side. An oval. An intarsia moose will look a bit flattened if the chart uses ordinary graph paper.
Ordinary graph paper. Knitting graph paper.
When I draw a circle on knitting graph paper, it will knit up as a circle.
With knitting graph paper, my moose antlers will be anatomically correct, not mooshed.
Knitting graph paper means you can easily draw a design as you want it to appear after you’ve knitted it.
How to Do This
Charting a graphic on knitting graph paper requires that you know what gauge you will be using for your knitting.
If I’m aiming for a moose using Felted Tweed, for example (and no, I’m not actually aiming for a moose but I hope somebody does), my gauge is 6 stitches per inch. If I want my moose to be 10 inches across, I multiply 10 inches x 6 stitches: my moose chart needs to be 60 stitches wide. That’s how many stitches I’ll need to have on my knitting graph paper. The height will depend on how tall those antlers will be and I honestly don’t know, given that I’m not actually doing this moose thing.
Thanks to Megan Goodacre of Tricksy Knitter for this downloadable knitting graph paper. (Megan’s site has all sorts of great patterns and tutorials, definitely worth a deep dive.)
And an internet search coughs up all manner of knitting graph paper, in different gauges and scales, should you really get into this whole idea and work up that manatee you’ve always wanted to knit.
I had a whole thing with circles and whatnot drawn up to show you how all this works, but Kermit has utterly defeated me and I just hope you’ll take my word that this knitting graph paper is really, really awesome.
PS Here’s another excellent way to turn a graphic into a knittable chart. Read this post about my odyssey to create a knitted sign for our first MDK headquarters using an amazingly clever app called Stitch Fiddle. Upload an image, set your gauge, and voila:
Your annoying cat is now a 16-color intarsia chart.