Fan the Flames Knitalong—Week 1: Swatching, Chart Reading & Making Friends With Your Knitting Pattern

By Patty Lyons

Welcome to the Fan the Flames Knitalong!

Today we want to get started off right, which means swatching and design, but before we get started, this knitalong is part of the Annie’s Video Class, Circular Knitting Essentials. This pattern is part of the download materials provided with the class.

Now, you might be thinking, “Design? I thought we were following a pattern!” We are, but it’s a modular pattern, which means you have lots of options!

Fan the Flames Cowl, designed by Patty Lyons.

Fan the Flames Cowl, designed by Patty Lyons, Creative Knitting, Winter 2014

Swatching & Design

Fan the Flames was designed like the pieces of a puzzle; you can swatch one fan chart and one flame chart in the yarn you like — no need to try to match my gauge! Then you can measure the length and width of each puzzle piece and see what you like.

For example, in Tahki Mesa the cowl has a fan stitch that measures 4 inches wide.

A single repeat of the flame stitch measures 6 inches wide.

A single repeat of the flame stitch measures 6 inches wide.

NOTE:  Look at the at the chart, you’ll see one repeat is a total of 29 stitches (14 stitches for one repeat plus 15 balancing stitches. Visually, one repeat of this chart gives you two flames). Two repeats would have 43 stitches (28 for 2 repeats plus 15 balancing stitches. Visually two repeats of this chart gives you three flames.)

So, if we used two repeats of the flame stitch on each side, and one repeat of the fan stitch we’ll get:

9 inches (2 repeats of flame) + 4 inches (1 repeat of fan) + 9inches + 4inches = 26 inches wide.

They are both 3 1/4 inches tall, so if we repeated the whole pattern three times we’d get a cowl that is 9 3/4 inches high x 26 inches in circumference. You can create your cowl as skinny, wide, tall or short as you like.

Let’s look at one more example:

The swatch below has a fan stitch that measures 3 inches wide.

A single repeat of the flame stitch measures 5 inches wide.

A single repeat of the flame stitch measures 5 inches wide.

 

Flame swatch in Tahki Zara.

Flame swatch in Tahki Zara. Visit Annie’s for the full selection of available Tahki Yarns.

If we used two repeats of the flame stitch on each side, and two repeats of the fan stitch we’ll get:

7 1/2 inches (2 repeats of flame) + 6 inches (1 repeat of fan) + 7 1/2 inches + 6 inches = 27 inches wide.

They are both 2 3/4 inches tall, so if we repeated the whole pattern four times we’d get a cowl that is 9 inches high x 27 inches in circumference.

By now hopefully you’re itching to get swatching. Just remember to lightly spray each piece with water and pin out to desired look and let dry. Since you’re not necessarily trying to match my gauge, just use the needles that create the look you like and open up the lace in blocking as much as YOU like. Isn’t it nice to be the boss!

Here are mine on the blocking board once I’ve removed the pins -- nice and flat and easy to measure.

Here are mine on the blocking board once I’ve removed the pins — nice and flat and easy to measure.

Chart Reading

If you’re new to chart reading, it’s not a scary as you think. Since this pattern includes the words and the chart, you can use one to check yourself to see how your chart-reading skills are coming along.

There are three things I want you to know about chart reading:

  1. The chart is a visual representation of the RS of the work. That’s a fancy way of saying the chart is really a picture of your knitting. Notice how the symbol for a yarn over is a circle, and the symbol for a k2tog (a single right-slanting dec) is a line that slants to the right.
  2. Since you are working in the round, each round of the chart is read right to left.
  3. In a chart, the red bracket is a pattern repeat. It’s the same as an * in the instructions text. In the case of the flame chart, the stitches outside the bracket are the “balancing stitches.”

If you were to work two repeats of the flame stitch, you would start with the stitches outside the bracket. Then, you would work the stitches in the red bracket, repeat those 14 stitches (two repeats) and then end the section with the stitches. You can see that in this case two repeats of the flame chart will create three flames.

Casting On

It’s time for a little myth busting. Have you ever heard “To create an elastic edge, cast on loosely, or cast on using a larger needle”? Hooey. That will just create big or sloppy stitches in your first row. What makes an elastic edge is the spacing between the stitches.

Watch the video above where I demonstrate my favorite elastic cast-on for lace.

Stitch Markers

Stitch markers are sooooo helpful. I would suggest using a unique color for the end of round, and then using other markers as indicated in the pattern to separate the fan and the flame, but you also might want to use another color within the flame section to mark the 14-stitch repeat. It kind of stops you and reminds you, “Hey, don’t finish the section — you have to go back and repeat those 14 stitches.”

Creating the Lace

If you are new to lace knitting, you can check Annie’s StitchGuide.com. From here you can find instructions for all the stitches noted in the pattern.

If you are an experienced lace knitter, I want to address a couple of things that might have always bugged you — perfectly matching yarn overs (yo) and slip, slip, knit (ssk).

Well, that was quite a bit to get you started. Don’t worry if you run into any problems while you work, because guess what Week Two is about? You guessed it — fixing mistakes in lace.

Click here to begin WEEK 2

Happy cowling!

Patty

 

12 Responses to Fan the Flames Knitalong—Week 1: Swatching, Chart Reading & Making Friends With Your Knitting Pattern

  1. Hpriddy says:

    Bought the magazine and try to knit along with the Fan the Flame cowl.While trying to knit the gauge it dawned
    On me that the way the pattern and chart is written it is for in the round.
    It would be helpful to mention that the swatch gauge should be done in the round too,especially for the inexperienced knitter.
    Sincerely. H Priddy

    • Patty Lyons says:

      One of the great things about this pattern, is it is NOT gauge specific. If you read the first post you’ll see how the puzzle piece work. Don’t stress too much about gauge, but swatch until you get a fabric you like!

  2. Gail Spivey says:

    Were your gauge swatches knitted circular or flat?

    • Patty Lyons says:

      Although I swatch stockinette in the round (using the speed swatch method I wrote about in Creative Knitting last fall), I find that my gauge for lace is the same flat and in the round, so for this project I swatched flat.

      One of the great things about this pattern, is it is NOT gauge specific. If you read the first post you’ll see how the puzzle piece work. Don’t stress too much about gauge, but swatch until you get a fabric you like!

  3. Regina in PA says:

    Hi Patty,
    Thanks for the great tutorials! I used the long-tail, with a twist, cast-on, and it does have stretch, but not so much that it looks sloppy. It, also, has a nice edge finish. The yarn over “issue” has now been resolved for me, with both sides looking equally the same. Luv, luv, luv your method for the SSK. The resulting stitch seats nicely and mirrors the K2tog. I am looking forward to the following weeks in this knit-along. I’ve been knitting a long time and appreciate these great tips for my toolbox.

  4. Nancy Livingstone says:

    Hi Patty!

    I have the same question as others. I’m trying to knit my gauge swatch flat but don’t know how to read even number rows from left to right on the chart. Is there a stitch key for wrong side stitches when knitting a flat swatch?

    Thank you!

  5. Patty Lyons says:

    For those of you that would like to swatch in the round, you can use the speed swatch method:

    http://www.creativeknittingmagazine.com/blog/?p=3655

    If you want to work the swatch flat then read ever odd numbered row (WS rows) from left to right, and ever even number rows (RS rows) from right to left.

    Check out this post: http://www.creativeknittingmagazine.com/blog/?p=7423

  6. Hpriddy says:

    Patty, I watched the video with the special cast on x-number of times because I think some movement eludes me.When I pivot the needle,all the previous stitches rotate and that is a pain in the neck,especially on round needles. Did I do something wrong?
    Since I wanted to start, I put a twist in the yarn after doing one stitch.Time will tell if it is as loose or stretchy as your cast on.
    Needless to say, I really enjoy the KAL and the learning of new tricks.Thank you HP

    • Patty Lyons says:

      It can be tricky to get the hang of at first. If you have trouble with circs getting your stitches twisted (you can always straighten them before the join), you can do the cast on with straight needles and then transfer to circs.

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