My current work in progress:

Sundew,by Martin Storey, knit from Rowan Softyak DK, using 3.25mm and 4mm needles.

Chart Help

First off, thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway for the pattern collections and subscriptions to Knitcircus. The winners of the pattern collection are:

Anne, Dana, Diana C., Pat L., Kae, Denise, Lynneth, Tara, Amy, and Sarah.

I have emailed the link to download the collection to you all, so if you think one of those people is you, check your email.

And the winners of the subscriptions are Sandy H. (happy birthday, Sandy!) and Ardosa.

I have forwarded your email addresses to Jaala at Knitcircus and she will arrange for your subscriptions.

Thank you, Jaala, for supplying these goodies for the give-away.

Next on the agenda, I was sent a fabulous new book to review.

This is Charts Made Simple: Understanding Knitting Charts Visually by JC Briar.

You may have noticed that more and more, knitting patterns are eschewing written out instructions for stitch patterns and relying on charts. The majority of my patterns are charted: charts correspond well to the way I think and I think are far less likely to have errors because an error in a chart jumps out at you far better than does one in a written-out line of instructions.

But what do you do if you have no experience knitting from charts?

JC Briar to the rescue!

Charts Made Simple is small in size (just over 100 pages) but it is packed with everything you need to know to be able to knit from charts. The book has 6 main sections:

  • The big picture
  • Staying on track
  • Cable symbol sensibility
  • Charts that show shape
  • Counting stitches
  • Repeated stitches

I have read this book cover to cover (Hello — I can’t knit right now. What else can I do with my spare time?) and I can’t think of a single aspect of charting that isn’t covered. Everything is explained in clear, straightforward language and illustrated with lots of pictures and  — you guessed it — charts.

I really like the way the book is organized — each chunk of information is set out on one or two pages in an easy-to-read format.

As far as I know, this is the only book around that de-mystifies knitting charts and teaches you how to use them and make the most of them. Long overdue, in my opinion.

JC very kindly offered to send a copy to one of my blog readers. Who’d like it? 😀

To be entered in the drawing for the giveaway, leave a comment to this post. The Random Number Generator will select a winner from among those comments on Wednesday, February 9 at 4:00pm Eastern Time, so get your entries in before then.

Hand Update

Contrary to what some of you think (judging from the comments), it is my hand that’s broken not my wrist. Thanks again for all your good wishes. It’s still broken. I still can’t knit as such, as I have no strength in my hand and very limited range of motion. But just this weekend I’ve noticed some slight improvement in my range of motion, and it seems less swollen. But I still have a long way to go before things are back to normal, I think.

However, since the accident I have designed a line of patterns that I’m thinking about publishing as an e-booklet entitled The Winter of My Discontent. All designs are cabled and there are six patterns:  two hats, mittens, fingerless mitts, a cowl, and socks. And several of my lovely friends are knitting up the samples for me.

Where would I be without my friends?

Lucy Sez

I’m all ready to watch the Superbowl!


  1. Gail Rector says:

    I do! I do! (Wildly waving hand at random number selector)
    If I don’t win… all I ever won was a turkey (true story); I’m going to have to wait to find a copy somewhere because I need pointers on how to wrap my lisdexxic brain around them.

    My heartfelt sympathies re your hand. I am having trouble with a shoulder and didn’t realize how much I NEED to KNIT until it was curtailed.

    When your blog comes in my inbox I feel so special but now I see there are many many very special folks who love you too.

    Best regards to you and Lucy, always look forward to her input.

  2. Glad to hear your hand is improving a bit!

    Sounds like a book I could use.

  3. This book just might be the answer to my continuing bewilderment with and reluctance to use charts instead of written instructions. Thanks for letting us all know about the existence of the book and for the great review. Love the Lucy updates (I have a short haired calico, Cleo, who runs our household), and sure hope the hand heals fast and completely. Best wishes.

  4. I prefer charts over words too. Get better so we can see some more of your knitting soon.
    Gina E´s last blog post ..Interruption

  5. I am so glad you are able to design even if you can’t knit. Being a budding designer, the charts book would be a welcome addition to my ever growing library. Best wishes on recovery before Soxperience.
    Rusty Boyd´s last blog post ..Local Magazine Story

  6. That book sounds really cool!

  7. What a great idea for a knitting book. I thought I knew how to handle charts but then I started a pair of socks in The Sock Knitter’s Workshop, and it was very different. Perhaps this book could have helped set me straight.

    Oooh, Wendy, bad hand — worse thing for a knitter. Take plenty of time to let things heal even though it is hard. Sounds like you are putting your time to good use though, with a new e-booklet.

  8. Arlo-Ann Hobbs says:

    Oh please, please, please let me win the book on charts. I have tried to knit by them and get mixed up every time. HELP!

  9. I hope that Lucy’s team will win the SUPERBOWL! At this moment it seems to be the cheese-heads! Take good care of yourself Wendy, your hand just needs some rest and time! I would love a chance to win the charting book, and grateful that you give the opportunity! From a big fan in New Mexico! :o)

  10. I am so glad you have been able to use your down-time for a knitting related project. I think I’d lose my mind if I couldn’t knit every day so I can’t even begin to imagine how you are handling it.

    I would dearly love to be picked for this give away!

    Give Lucy a tummy tickle.

  11. Help me move from ckart 🙁 to chart 😀 and you will work a miracle.

  12. kitphantom says:

    I’m still not convinced charts are for me for most projects, but I try every now and again.

    Keep up the healing.

  13. Wendy, just finished a second pair of your Rosebud socks. I love the pattern. This time lime green for my mother. We don’t have heat in Hawaii, so we wear socks in the winter. I hope you’re keeping warm in chilly DC. I work for Uncle, too, so we notice how our email volume dropped this last week or so. Hope your hand improves rapidly ( and you don’t get knitting withdrawal twitchies).

  14. Yes, please I would like this book. Watching the Superbowl with 2 cats and 2 dogs!

  15. Book sounds wonderful, just what I need! Hope I win it 🙂 Glad you’re beginning to see some slight improvement in your hand, how frustrating it must be not to be able to use your dominant hand! Thanks for all you do!

  16. Lucy knows I need all the help I can get with my knitting ! It doesn’t get easier with age.

  17. JC’s book sounds like it would be a great addiction to any knitting library.

  18. A book to demystify charts? I’m about as mystified as you can be; it’s like reading a foreign language! PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE random number picker, pick me!

    Glad to hear your hand is showing signs of improvements. Will you have to go through physical therapy/rehab before you have enough strength to knit? I’m glad you have reading material, I would be oh so sad if I couldn’t knit every day.

  19. It hurts just to hear about your hand. I’m thinking Very Good Thoughts for your speedy recovery.

    Charts. I learned to knit prior to charts. In my years away from knitting things have changed. I am now learning to read charts. Still have difficulty keeping count.

    Take care, stay warm and don’t forget to give Lucy at treat!

    Gerry´s last blog post ..Back in the Saddle Again

  20. I would love to have this book. And, even if I don’t win it, I will definitely be purchasing it!!! JC Briar is awesome!!!

  21. Grah, I hate to be greedy and comment on both contest posts, but I could definitely use some help understanding charts!

  22. I would love to win the give-a-way as I am just getting into chart reading!

  23. Nuna Knits says:

    OOPS, I meant to say I’m glad you are NOT sitting on your hands…

  24. Ooh! Pick me, random number generator! I’m just starting to get the hang of charts and could use every bit of information contained therein.

  25. A knitting book that explains charts is exactly what I need, I need to learn how to do this, I have never knit with a chart before, so this is new to me. thank you for the chance to win this new helpful aid.

  26. That book sounds like exactly what I need….

  27. Charts are scary-I’d LOVE to have this book!

  28. Glad to hear your hand is improving.

  29. OMG I am horrible at understanding charts…this book would be wonderful!!

  30. Marlene C. says:

    Taking a break from the Super Bowl and reading your blog. Feel better!
    Please enter my response to the fab give-away!

  31. Sounds like a book I need for my continuing knitting education.

  32. Count me in for the book giveaway. I should be knitting instead of skimming the interwebs.

  33. Well, if I don’t win the book I guess I’ll have to buy it. It sounds like a good read. Thanks for the review.

  34. Hi Wendy, I’m glad to hear that you are making some progress. Takes less then a minute to break it but a long time to fix it, so sorry. I can just imagine what a major event this is and the impact it has on your life. Love to have the book of course.
    Wishing you the best.


  35. carol brennan says:

    I would love to learn about charts. Maybe it would make my life easier.

  36. I really want that book. If I don’t win it, I will buy it. LOL Thanks for the chance to win it.
    Ruth´s last blog post ..Sheep and goats

  37. I desperately need help with charts! Sorry to hear about your hand.

  38. I would love to win a copy of Charts Made Simple. Thanks for your generosity.

  39. Nancy Jo C says:

    I find your charts easy to use, but would love to have the book to help me some more!

  40. evelyn Macway says:

    What an interesting book idea! I love working with charts. I am glad you are feeling better.

  41. chart book looks great, glad there is some progress re hand injury.
    KathyB´s last blog post ..Dog Day Afternoon- with Kittens

  42. So glad to hear there is some improvement starting in the hand. The book sounds super. The ebook sounds fantastic. Sounds like you are surrounded by good people. Keep getting better. We miss you.

  43. I could really use this book, just started using charts and find them tedious, sending healing vibes for your hand!

  44. Another book I’d love to read! Hope the hand continues to mend speedily…

  45. The book sounds great and I’d love a copy. Glad you are thinking of an e-book of your designs and I will definitely be getting a copy of it as soon as it is offered.

    I’m glad your hand is on the mend and you are able to use your “down time” so constructively. The designing sounds like good therapy, most likely with Lucy on your lap. 🙂

    Hugs from Oz to you and Lucy

  46. martha simpson says:

    Just the book I need. I am learning to read charts with my knitting projects and this book would truly enlighten me. Best wishes for a speedy healing of your hand.

  47. Georgia H Chilton says:

    I would love to have this book. It would help me with what I am trying to learn now:) 🙂

    Give Lucy some pats and fast healing for your hand!!


  48. I am pretty sure I saw my name on that book!

    Hope you feel better soon!


  49. Barbara O. says:

    What a terrific idea…! I’d love the chart book!

  50. I wish you continued hand health improvement. The charting book looks interesting, and I haven’t made any vows about not buying any more charting books. 😉 But winning would be nice.
    Hope Lucy isn’t a Pittsburgh fan.

  51. The chart book looks great! I am comfortable using charts but I have friends who could use this book.

    Love the idea of you “Winter of Discontent” collection! I’m looking forward to seeing that.

  52. I’m glad you’re feeling better. Looking forward to that e-book of yours.

    And, I’d love to have the chart book. It would have a good home here. 🙂

  53. I’d love a copy of JC’s book — and am looking forward to your cable designs. Get better soon.

  54. I hope yournumber generator picks me?!

  55. Ohhh!! I would love a book on charts!!

    Glad to hear that your hand is starting to feel a little better. 🙂

  56. love your new ebook idea, sorry it was the result of a crazy winter injury. get well chickie
    katkoe´s last blog post ..Holiday Handmades Gift Bank

  57. Sounds like a great book. Thanks for the contest and hope you will be knitting again soon. My spoiled brat cat Izzy says to tell Lucy “meow.”

  58. I would love the chart book! I need to be demystified…LOL

  59. Hope your hand recovers soon. Would love to win the book.

  60. Elizabeth Dinkins says:

    Oooooh… charts. I love charts and a chart book would be really cool.


  61. Valerie Young says:

    That’s a book I could really use! I am getting ready to dive into lace and my lack of chart-reading skills has been holding me back. Good luck with your hand. I am nearly recovered from a broken leg (the driving leg, of course!) and it just takes time to let your body heal. Doesn’t mean your sanity will be completely intact, but oh, well!

  62. Diane Schultz says:

    Oh, I *need* that chart book! I’m terrible with charts. My brain refuses to see them correctly and I usually need to write them out.

    I feel for your hand troubles. I’d be going nuts!

  63. I’d love to win the chart book – I seriously need to learn to read charts and not be intimidated by them!

  64. Sharon Amara says:

    Charts Made Simple–Now that’s for me!

  65. Sounds like a very useful book indeed. Would love to have a copy.
    Elly´s last blog post ..Memoir review-Mennonite in a Little Black Dress

  66. glad to see your hand is allowing you to get on line a little bit! 🙂

    Being a self knitter and having OCD i tend to sometimes overanalyze things, so some answers in a book i can reference would be cool!
    turtle´s last blog post ..I know I know

  67. Glad you are feeling better! I would love a copy of Charts Made Simple. It would be a great help to me in deciphering charts.

  68. R Robertson says:

    I could use that book!

  69. the book sounds very good!
    best wishes for a speedy recovery.

  70. Oh yes, I definitely need to own that book, “Charts Made Simple.” I am a little intimidated by chart patterns (I run the other way), but I hope to overwhelm that phobia in 2011.

    Hey Wendy, I am starting to become suspicious…when I look at pictures of Lucy, my cat Princess is never in the room. Starting to suspect some Clark Kent/Superman thing.

    Thanks for the giveaways!

  71. I have learned to love charts! Being a lefty (mirror is how I knit) I find that charts are much better than written because I can “see” the pattern and read the stitches better. And it makes finding mistakes so much faster!

    I would love to add this book to my library!

  72. Glad to hear your hand’s improving Wendy! I think you’ll need some time off work when you recover to catch up on your knitting. J.C. Briar’s book looks fantastic, what a great idea.

  73. Celestine says:

    I think this book was written for me. It takes me forever to knit from a chart….Thanks for giving us a chance to win one.
    I too broke my right hand and being right handed I can understand your pain. After therapy, I hope everything comes back to normal for you. It did for me.

  74. Lauren Kowalczewski says:

    I’m thinking of you while knitting on my socks. I can’t imagine myself not being able to knit!
    I would love to learn charts so please, RNG, please pick me!
    Glad you’re on the mend, hope you heal perfectly.
    As usual, Cassie & Zoe send a Meow to Lucy, their mentor.

  75. The book sounds like just what I need. I am trying to get comfortable with charts, as they seem much more efficient than written out instructions.

    Hope your hand continues to heal!

  76. I love charts. I just wish there were a standard for the symbols. Did you have to have a cast? Hope it was just one bone and that it heals quickly and perfectly. Lucy must love having your lap all too herself for extended periods.

  77. I have fits when I can’t use my hands, so I am in awe of you having the mindset to write a book of patterns all in your head!! Bravo!! 8*)

    And, I would love to win that chart book!!!

  78. I would LOVE a book on charts. Started using them the first lace knitting project I undertook and I’m hooked. This will certainly be a huge help!

  79. Wendy,
    I just finished my first fair isle and feeling pretty good about it…almost think I could read a chart to do lace. Really been scared to do that. I think this book might really help me…please pick me…

  80. Oh, I’d love to learn how to read charts!!

  81. Would love to win the charting book to better understand them. Best wishes for your hand.

  82. A book on using charts can’t but help in learning how to write charts that are usable. I think it would be a fine addition to my library!
    I hope Lucy enjoyed the Super Bowl commercials!
    Jeanie Babbage´s last blog post ..Is it really 2011

  83. Oh my goodness could I use a copy of that book! Is it in stores yet?
    I hope you and Lucy enjoyed the Super Bowl! I don’t care for football. but I did watch some of the commercials, and my cats thought the Puppy Bowl was interesting…

  84. Claudia Ey says:

    I hate to say it, but I am glad that I live in California!! No ice right now.

    Hope you feel better soon. No fun having pain, especially not being able to knit!

    By the way I would love to learn how to read charts. I certainly would love the book!

  85. I would love a copy of the charting book as I have such problems following charts and always wind up following the written pattern. I am happy to hear that your hand is improving in ROM! I’m a lefty also.

  86. Sounds like a great book. Haven’t knitted with a chart so would probably be very helpful.

  87. I’d love to be on the list for the book. What a super chance. I rarely knit from a chart and have a lot to learn.

  88. I am sure Lucy is loving having you all to herself without that pesky knitting taking away from valuable petting time.

  89. A book about reading charts would be a fantastic thing to have in my library!

  90. Sounds like something that would benefit me….who is a bit intimidated by charts!

  91. I would love to have the book. I have so much to learn about using charts. If I don’t win a copy, I will definitely be buying one!

    I am sure your pattern booklet will be wonderful too.

  92. What a great idea for a book! I’m in! Know what it feels like to have your hand broken. Praying for a fast recovery and back to knitting! Happy Sunday to you!

  93. The books sounds great. Good to hear that you’re healing, and I’m looking forward to seeing your e-booklet.

  94. The Winter of My Discontent… glad to see your wonderful sense of humour is still very much in tack.
    Would of course love to have the chart book.

  95. Linda F Piotrowski says:

    Wendy, I’m glad to read that you are doing a little bit better. I hope you don’t overdo the typing and have a set back. I am currently rereading your first book, “Wendy Knits.” I love it and cannot get over how generous and creative you are.
    Your book that you are developing in lieu of knitting sounds wonderful. I am sure I will purchase it when it becomes available.
    Now for the book that helps in understanding charts… I’d love it as I am as afraid of charts in knitting as I am of clowns. I’d love to receive it!
    Hope you enjoyed the Super Bowl! Of course, the Packers have Lombardi back home where it belongs.
    Continue to heal. Lucy looks as if she is staying close and trying to comfort you!

  96. Hi Wendy-I’m glad to hear that your hand is improving. I’m sure you wish it would hurry it up! Not surprising to hear that you’ve been doing some designing during your knitting downtime. The book sounds great-thanks for offering another contest!

  97. Oh random number generator – pick me!!

  98. audreayoda says:

    I’m leaving a comment. But this looks cool I hate charts right now because I always end up having to frog bevause I read something wrong

  99. O, Wendy, so sorry for the pain and suffering (of not being able to knit). I do like charts — so much easier to photo copy and mark off the rows and would love to have a book about charts.
    Rebecca´s last blog post ..400 shorts!!!

  100. Glad to hear that you are on the mend and eager to see the patterns. I would love a chance to have this book. Thanks for your generosity.