Personalize Your Knitting: Graph it Out!

I knit Henry (my nephew) the H Sweater when he was about two and a half, and at four years old he's ready for a new one!

This sweater is my own conglomeration of elements from several kids' sweater patterns. The original was knit out of a cotton rope-type yarn, and I think it was a bit too stiff—see how the arm is a little bumpy at the join? I'm thinking about doing this one out of a well-wearing yarn like Berroco Comfort DK or something with a tad more drape so Henry can be comfortable as he runs around and plays.

When I was planning the original H, I winged it, to the detriment of the overall effect because I had to rip the front out about three times. I finally got the H centered, but I was left with a pile of frayed, unusable yarn and I had to buy a new skein of each color.

I've learned a lot since then, and I'm in the process of planning this sweater out to the stitch!

Enter the notebook that saved the day!

A week or so ago I received a new notebook in the mail, the Work In Progress Notebook from Franklin Habit. It's a simple little book, made up of half blank pages and half knitter's graph paper. Knitter's graph paper is different from regular graph paper because the knit stitch is slightly wider than it is tall, and the graph paper reflects that.

Anyway, I used the notebook to begin planning out Henry's new H Sweater. The front and back need to be 15 inches across to equal a total of 30 inches around (after blocking), so with a gauge of 22 stitches to 4 inches, I would need to cast on about 76 stitches.

I wanted the H to be quite large like the original, so I graphed it out at approximately 3 inches tall and 4 inches wide.

To center the H in the middle of the front—which was my nemesis last time!—I subtracted the number of stitches in the H from the total cast-on stitches: 76 CO stitches minus 26 H stitches equals 50 leftover. Then I divided 50 by two to get 25. So, I'll knit 25 stitches, then place the first row of the H, then 25 stitches. That'll put it squarely in the middle of the sweater. Phew!

And I have it all in this handy little notebook, which fits in one of the pockets in my knitting bag so I can carry it around with me!

And while I'm in planning mode. . .

I started working on a new Big Button Jacket. This is another "Franken-pattern" put together from my favorite aspects of three different sweater patterns. My old Big Button is wearing out! I'm going to do another one, this time out of a solid yarn. I have a bunch of bulky yarn in my stash, so I swatched it and planned out the first steps in the new jacket.

I might need a sweater-planning intervention in order to get some actual knitting done. Or, I'll just have to get myself another one of these notebooks so I can keep going!


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Knitting Daily Blog
Kathleen Cubley

About Kathleen Cubley

Hello daily knitters! I'm the editor of Knitting Daily. I've been obsessed with knitting for about ten years now and my favorite projects are sweaters. I like the occasional smaller project, but there's nothing like yards of stockinette with a well-placed cable or a subtle stitch pattern here and there. I crochet a bit now and then—especially when I need to produce a baby blanket in time for the baby shower. I've been in publishing for 20 years and I'm finally exactly where I want to be: at the crossroads of knitting and communication. I live in Spokane, Washington and when I'm not knitting I enjoy gardening, snuggling with my dogs, swimming, reading, and playing in the snow in the winter. But, really, I'm pretty much always knitting!

10 thoughts on “Personalize Your Knitting: Graph it Out!

  1. Good stuff, Kathleen. Thank you. And (in light of recent criticism on Ravelry) the whole post strikes a good balance between information and commerce. Franklin’s book looks like a great idea though, in truth, I would rather have seen it with a spiral or loose-leaf binding. (Some of my ideas and sketches are just too awful to preserve.)

  2. Thank you for the information about knitters graph paper, I had no idea it was different than regular graph paper (wider or taller).

    Franklin’s new book will also come in handy if for no other reason than to have my pattern and yarn choice in it to remind me why I bought 8 skeins of whatever back in 1993.

  3. I’m having trouble figuring out your math.
    the theory seems good, but……
    If the sweater front is 15″ across, and the stitch gauge is 22 stitches to 4″, wouldn’t the number of stitches needed be 22/4 (to give you the number of stitches per inch) X 15= 82.5 (say 82).
    And you would want to start the H (which is 22 stitches wide) 11 stitches from the centre of the sweater, or at stitch 30. (The centre of the sweater would be at stituch 41.)

  4. At a gauge of 22 sts for 4″, you would have 5.5 sts/in. If you want to have the sweater front of 15″, you’d need 82 or 83 total stitches, not 76. I think you need to re-do this post and make the whole graph a little more clear, ie write out how many stitches the H is, with # of sts for CC and MC. It’s just not that clear.

  5. Dear Kathleen – I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive all the hub-bub about the original post. Please bear in mind that we only say these things because we, your readers, have never transposed words or numbers and never, ever gotten our math wrong (please envisage my tongue firmly inserted in my cheek, dear).

    Anyway, I wanted to thank you for the color combination on Henry’s sweater. I’ve recently started combining neutrals and either pastels or brights to very good effect, and particularly like the colors you chose.

    Also, your post on Faux Fair Isle has been a great source of inspiration. I’ve whipped up a couple of hats and am thinking about some gauntlets. I’ve been leafing through Sheila McGregor’s Traditional Scandinavian Knitting, a veritable cornucopia of graphed designs, and incorporating variegated yarns, including those with long runs, make these old standbys really pop. Very cool.

  6. I also did this graphing technique when I made an S sweater for Sylvie. I think my husband made me a graph on excel. Then I got a knitting notebook which i LOVE and most recently, I copied a favorite cable pattern from a sweater a friend was working on, and am now using that cable pattern (which I had to copy a few times before I got it right) for a long-awaited brown vest for my husband 😉

  7. I know this post is a few weeks old, but I am confused. I goggled “knit stitches taller than wide” and I got 50/50 results that say they are taller than wide and 50/50 that said no, they are wider than tall.

    I charted out a snowman for a pair of socks. I used wider than tall graph paper. When i knit my snowman, I ended up with tall skinny snowmen, not the short plump ones I had charted out. Looking at my sock fabric, without measuring gauge, I would say my stitches are definetly taller than they are wide.

    Can someone clarify if they are taller than wide in stockinette? or do I just knit weird?