Lace Pattern Preferences Survey Results

Thank you to everybody who took part in the survey to help determine the format of future Eskimimi Makes patterns to best suit knitters’ preferences. My own preference for lace knitting is to knit from charts as I find them easier to manage and keep track of. When designing I work exclusively in chart form when planning lace or cables, and to translate a large and complex lace piece into written instructions is an extensive and fiddly job; however I want to cater to as many knitters’ requirements as possible and wanted to determine the popularity or need for written instructions in modern lace knitting.
68% of respondents were very confident knitting from charted lace patterns, with a further 28% of respondents stating themselves to be able to knit from charts to some degree. Only 4% of survey responses reflected an inability or lack of confidence with charts, but with this in mind a lack of written instruction could mean losing a potential 4-32% of sales.
Users’ preference for written or charted lace patterns (or using a combination of both) do not completely tally with their abilities to read charts. Not all knitters who can read lace charts particularly want to knit lace patterns using charts. An even greater number like to work from charts and written instructions in tandem. A number of reasons were given for this in the text responses. There were many comments left in the responses, so the below are a very small selection.

“Diagrams for visualisation and written for making a chant that I can repeat in my head while knitting.”

“I tend to prefer the written instructions to get myself going. Then use the charts once I’m established.”

“Primarily the written instructions help me feel confident I’m getting the chart right in the early stages.”

However, there was also a case made to decide upon only one form of instruction:

“I don’t think you need both. This can be distracting. I think the pattern writer should consider which delivery best suits the pattern in question and adopt this method with conviction – that’s what she’s paid for, to do the thinking for us!!”

The reasons that knitters had for choosing one method of pattern instruction over another (or for best enjoying knitting with both at hand) are varied:
Knitters wo prefer to knit solely from charts state that that the ease of keeping place in a pattern and an ability to visualise lace patterns are the two strongest reasons for preferring charted lace patterns. People who prefer to knit with both chart and written directions at hand can find this beneficial in all areas apart from environmental, and fans of written lace instructions mostly enjoy the assurance that they are correctly following the pattern correctly.
No matter what respondents’ personal instruction format preferences, all groups were in agreement that patterns should include written instructions alongside charts to appeal to as many knitters as possible.

The bottom line seems to be that most knitters think that the inclusion of both charted and written instructions is beneficial in lace patterns. Though this does represent a lot of extra work and much longer patterns, it does cover all bases and provides a back-up of instructions when a knitter wishes to check their understanding of a certain part of the chart (or written pattern).

For future patterns I may start to publish the written instructions in a separate document that can be downloaded alongside the charted directions, to save the main pattern from becoming so very overloaded with pages, but I will, for now at least, retain some form of full written instruction to accompany any charted designs.

Finally, here are the written responses to the two questions asked, where those that took the survey were given the opportunity to explain their reasons for or expand upon the choices they gave in the questionnaire.

Please describe, if you are able, any other reasons not listed above for your preferred form of instruction for lace knitting:

  • I find it easier to memorise a pattern with written instructions. I sometimes find adjacent chart rows a distraction
  • Text is easily for me to memorize and images/charts are not.
  • I work in an LYS and when helping customers – charts make it very easy to quickly see the pattern and spot mistakes. If you did this from written instructions I’d have to spend 10 minutes reading through the written instructions and try to visualise the pattern. Also, it’s a lot easier to alter a charted lace pattern if needed
  • If I’m uncertain when reading the chart I can check with the written instructions although I usually work from the chart.
  • I find it far too easy to loose my place in a chart in a way that doesn’t happen when I follow written instructions…
  • It depends on the type of project but sometimes, charts are easier, other times, written directions would be preferred.
  • I use knit companion on my iPad which makes charts super easy to follow so I generally prefer them.
  • Diagrams for visualisation and written for making a chant that I can repeat in my head while knitting
  • I prefer knitting from a chart, but realize that sometimes a chart can become very large. There may be patterns where the written instructions may be shorter and easier to follow.
  • Easier to spot and fix errors
  • I won’t knit lace or cables from written instructions. I can’t believe anyone would prefer that! learning to knit from charts was a pretty smooth process for me.
  • I tend to prefer the written instructions to get myself going. Then use the charts once I’m established.
  • Not all designer use the same simbols in charts. So I prefer written instruction, cause if I knit from charts I have to check legends often (just to be sure that I am knitting correct stitches)
  • I find charts easier to follow, especially for more complicated patterns.
  • Words are easier to read than a chart in dim (electric/tv/evening) lighting
  • Where the lace involves increases – as in a shawl, for example – including some written instructions allows stitch counts to be indicated at various places which you can check your own knitting against. Not all written instructions do that of course (and I’ve given up on one that didn’t) but I find that really useful, even though I am primarily using the chart.
  • Knitting from charts makes me feel like a triumphant knitter. (Silly, but true.)
  • Primarily the written instructions help me feel confident I’m getting the chart right in the early stages

Do you have any other thoughts/ideas/information about whether patterns for lace knitting should contain written, charted or a combination of both types of instruction?

  • I think it’s so easy to get lost in complicated written instructions and to not realize it until too late.
  • There are some textural stitches (star stitch, for example) that are simpler and clearer to write out than to chart. Occasionally lace happens over a short-row fabric, and that too is easier to handle with written instructions. Otherwise, charts are 100% my preference for knitting, whether it’s lace, colourwork, or cables. I’ve been experimenting with Stitch Maps for lace recently, and though there’s a learning curve, the technology is brilliant and once you are underway it’s so much easier to see the relationship between stitches as they will occur in the actual fabric. I love than an ancient technology like knitting can still be experiencing such major innovation!
  • Although I only use the chart portions of knitting patterns mainly I know very many knitters who prefer written instructions. I feel it’s best if possibly to include both – I also really love end of row stitch counts on charts too – especially if the motif is wide.
  • I do occasionally use written instructions if the chart is unclear or confusing, so I do like to have the option. Written instructions are also more accessible to new knitters, so I would suggest that they’re essential for beginner lace patterns.
  • When I was first learning to use charts having both the written and charted instructions was good, however that was only for two or three simple patterns, I’ve never found following lace from written instructions a happy experience.
  • I never use written instructions, no matter how simple or complex the pattern. I’d still be nervous about not including them in a pattern I’m writing, because I’m sure most people use the written explanation to some degree or another.
  • Written instructions are always useful to have alongside the chart so you can double check whether what you have knitted is correct. Again, working in an LYS, the majority of the customers struggle with the idea of charts until they are shown how. You would exclude a large section of knitters (especially beginners and those perhaps stuck in their ways) if a pattern was solely charted. On a personal level, I much prefer charts as they are much more versatile. If time and pattern space allow, then having both has to be a good thing as you cover all bases.
  • Although I prefer written instructions, I find a chart can be helpful if I get stuck on a stitch/pattern. One reason written patterns are preferred is because when I learned to knit there weren’t many charts. I just find it hard to follow them after so many years of not having one.
  • I find that I am most comfortable with charts, but on occasion it helps to be able to reference written instructions to verify I am reading them correctly.
  • I use charts, but occasionally need to refer to written directions to clarify something like a repeat, etc. They are something I think could be available, but aren’t crucial to my knitting success.
  • Some people prefer charts and others worn instructions, if both are included the pattern appeals to a wider demographic.
  • I prefer charts for the reasons checked above, BUT I like to have the text too, on complex charts, because sometimes I need to double-check the text to verify I understand the chart. Excess printing/paper is no issue, as I don’t HAVE to print all pages.
  • I think it’s nice to provide both whenever possible, especially for a paid pattern, although I understand it’s a lot of work for the designer and that sometimes it does not make any sense for a large or complex motif to be written out. I really like having both to double-check my work and somethings are easier to understand written and some are easier following a chart.
  • I know this is a bunch of extra work, particularly for the tech editors, but perhaps having the ability to use either/or with regards to charts & written directions. If you have a shawl, have one available that is chart only, one that is written directions, and one that is both. I know, total pain in the backside but then you cover everyone. When I first started knitting, I was scared of charts and I avoided patterns that were chart-only, even though I was perfectly capable of knitting them. I still struggle with charts but I can do them.
  • I can work lace from either type of instruction, but I much prefer charts. I have been put off buying lace patterns without them. If a chart is there it is all I will look at.
  • I think as long as the chart is pretty visually representative of what you’re knitting and the key is very comprehensive then detailed written instructions may not be necessary. I find charts where the symbols are colour coded a real treat! However I am aware that some knitters find charts completely incomprehensible.
  • I love a pattern that includes all the information needed to knit the item. I hate having to search elsewhere due to vague instructions.
  • So many of my fellow knitters have confidence issues with charts. They think that they are too complicated. I think that by including in the instruction that it is read from the bottom up and right to left will help those that have that question every time they try a pattern. I get those questions a lot when I teach and at knitting group. Also please include a key for each stitch since the US doesn’t have a standard.
  • I know some people struggle with reading charts, so I suppose that for accessibility it is fair to include written-out instructions, but they are just a waste of space for me. I would never buy a lace pattern that wasn’t charted.I think that, whatever you choose, you should make it clear in the pattern description whether charts and/or instructions are included.Also, it’s helpful if you separate the written-out portion of the chart from the rest of the pattern, so those following the chart don’t have to trawl through it all to find the next salient instruction.
  • I do prefer have written & charted instructions, but if they are to be on separate pages, having the key WITH instructions are always helpful. I normally use PDF’s & having to go back & forth, especially if there are lots of pages can be frustrating
  • I have mostly used patterns that use charts, but do include some written instruction about decreases or bind offs, etc. I know some patterns don’t have any written instructions, and that might be difficult. I think learning to knit from charts is probably a requirement for knitting most lace or cable patterns.
  • Both is the best
  • I realise that some prefer written instructions and appreciate the efforts of designers to accommodate both preferences. Personally I am OK with either, and wouldn’t let the lack of written instructions or charts impact my decision to buy a pattern if I liked that pattern.
  • I don’t think you need both. This can be distracting. I think the pattern writer should consider which delivery best suits the pattern in question and adopt this method with conviction – that’s what she’s paid for, to do the thinking for us!!
  • I think not to include written instructions will greatly disadvantage those who really can’t follow charts, even if I do find it difficult to understand how they can’t see that their knitting looks like the chart. Having said that, for garments I do like more than just a schematic, although not having a diagram with measurements also makes life difficult!
  • A combination of chart and written instructions, some times it is easier to follow written instructions on complicated bits just to make sense of the chart.I’ve also used charts which were colour coded,… very useful for remembering particular stitch groups for sections of the pattern.
  • Sometimes the chart symbols look too similar for me to distinguish them easily. If it’s flat knitting and the chart symbol means one thing on the right side and another thing on the wrong side, I get confused. And, finally, charts are often too small for me to read them easily. (I’m 63).
  • I like having both available especially when the stitch counts aren’t constant from one row to the next-I don’t know why I have trouble with that, but I do.Otherwise, I love charts.

If anyone is interested in any other area of the anonymous survey responses, or wishes of a copy of the raw data, please drop me a line using the Contact Me page and I will gladly send them on.

Lace Pattern Questionnaire: Charts & Instructions

Charts-and-instructions

Whilst working on a new pattern that is soon to be released, I thought a temperature check of knitters’ and readers’ pattern preferences might be useful, to make sure that future pattern releases are as relevant to the needs of those who might knit them as possible. As I am currently working on a new shawl release as well as a new scarf pattern, today I am focussing on lace patterns and specifically whether charted lace motifs and written instructions are required side by side, or if one type of instruction is preferred above the other. If you have a moment to spare, please could you help by filling out the questionnaire below? Comments/observations can be added to the questionnaire (may be published anonymously) or added to the post comments. Many thanks for your help!

The survey is now closed – I will bring news of the results in the next few days. Thank you to everyone who responded – I have a good amount of data to sort now!

Bud To Bloom In Marshmallow Cloud: Kits Now Available

bud-to-bloom-kits

In an extraordinary show of generosity and support, It’s A Stitch Up have announced the availability of a limited number of kits in support of Refuge, a charity which does a great amount of work to support women and children escaping domestic abuse.

The kit includes both skeins of yarn needed to complete the two hats above: Bloomin’ Marvellous on the left and Little Bud on the right, as well as an eBook containing both patterns. The kit retails at £28, which represents great value for money when costing up the price of the yarns and patterns separately, but even more importantly, £5 from every kit sold will go to Refuge.

If you are a buyer who has already purchased a copy of the eBook and are interested in the kit, please let me know and I will refund you the original price of the standalone eBook back to you, so you can get yourself even more of a special treat of a deal.
The yarn included in the kit is It’s A Stitch Up’s hand-dyed Marshmallow Cloud. It is super-silky baby alpaca, dyed to be as rich and sumptuous to the eye as well as to handle. The yarn is a chunky-weight yarn, but incredibly light to handle. Each of the light and long fibres is incredibly smooth, dyed beautifully with no matting or felting of the delicate wisps of baby alpaca. There is a generous 100m (109 yards) to each 100g skein, and it is a perfect yarn for accessories such as hats, as it is so very warm without any itchiness at all. Baby Awesome and I wore our matching hats out to the supermarket yesterday, pompoms bobbling brightly in the cold, and we remained as snug as two little bugs.

Buying this kit will not only give you a wonderful sense of warmth on your head, but also inside, knowing that you are helping those in need. To make your halo extra shiny, you can also rest assured that your yarn is ethically sourced and spun. The fibre for this yarn is sourced from Peru, where it is hand-sorted through two rounds of grading to ensure that only the finest fibres from the first shearings of the baby alpaca make it through. The fibre sorters and farmers are fairly paid for their work by a mill based in the UK where the yarn is spun, which also provides and education program for the children of the workers and farmers that provide their skills and expertise to produce the fibre.

The Marshmallow Cloud yarn is available in a number of shades, from bright solids and semi solids, through variegated and pastel tones, and each skein can be purchased separately for £14.

Find out more about It’s A Stitch Up’s yarns and patterns by visiting the online store.

To read more about the eBook project and the two patterns within it, please do find a moment to read this post. Thank you once more for your support and care, and happy knitting!

Two New Patterns, One New Yarn And One Fantastic Cause

Today I have two new hat patterns ready for the world. On the left is Bloomin Marvellous, and on the right is Little Bud: a duo of hats that have been designed to celebrate and support women in children in need. The proceeds of this eBook, which compromises two hats (Bloomin’ Marvellous and Little Bud) will be donated to the women’s shelter charity Refuge.

The price for an eBook containing both patterns is set at a modest £3.50, however, if you would like to pay what you can, please visit This Page to make a donation (anything from £1, $1, €1, etc, up to whatever you can afford, more or less than the pattern (added to which benefit, no Paypal or Ravelry fees will be deducted, and no VAT if you are a UK taxpayer… Just pop your Ravelry name, email address or some other way to contact you in the comments section there, or drop me a line here or on Ravelry, and I will send your pattern (there may be a slight delay as I will not be at my computer all the time).

Both hats are designed to have a gathered crown which provides soft yarns with a lesser amount of structure the support to make a pompom look it’s best. Instructions for making a pompom and templates to do so are included in both patterns.

The embellishments on each hat are what set each apart, symbolising the growth and new beginning of those in need who receive help and support, whether it be from loved ones and friends, or organisations and charities such as Refuge that go towards helping women and children grow and bloom, and one day hopefully to help people become Bloomin Marvellous. Little Bud is also a poignant name, as the photos are of me and my own little one, who though still just a bud, will bloom himself. He is also my little buddy, and another form of support alongside my husband, my friends, and in the past Refuge, the charity for which any proceeds are directed.

The colours for each hat are reversed from its partner, and you can make both hats (one Adult, one baby from just the two skeins of yarn. You could make two adult hats from two skeins, but the pompoms would not be as big and full, should you choose to top them with the cheery balls of fluff.

These hats knit up very quickly as they are made from a bulky but ever-so-buttery-soft yarn: It’s A Stitch Up’s Marshmallow Cloud. One skein of each of two shades (Night Moves and Rebel Rebel) was plenty to provide enough yarn for not only both hats but the two fine pompoms and then quite some left over. There would be enough yarn in two skeins to make two adult hats, with perhaps smaller pompoms.

It’s A Stitch Up have very generously put together a Bloomin Marvellous/Little Bud Kit to support Refuge. The kit contains both skeins of yarn used in these designs (Marshmallow Cloud in Rebel Rebel and Night Moves) and copies of both hat patterns, which will be emailed to you when your yarn is dispatched. £5 of the sale of each yarn kit will go towards Refuge.

I was going to put a review of this gorgeous yarn into this post, but in all honesty I think it is deserving of a post all of its own, so I shall write a dedicated post for the yarn in the coming day, but in short it is one of the most beautiful yarns I have used. I would love to see versions of this hat in the un-dyed shade teamed with either the soft pink of the ‘Baby Cakes’ shade, or with the vibrant pop of colour from ‘Hot Thing’.

A wide range of sizes are given for both hat designs, as below…

Small Baby: 37cm (14.5”)
Newborn – 3 months: 38cm (15”)
4 – 6 months: 39.5cm (15.5”)
7 – 11 months: 40.5cm (16”)
1 – 2 years: 43cm (17”)
2 – 3 years: 46cm (18”)
Child (3-12 years): 49.5cm (19.5”)
Teen: 53cm (21”)
Adult Small: 56cm (22”)
Adult Large: 59.5cm (23.5”)

Anyway, stop reading this: please just chuck a small donation this way by purchasing a pattern, or kit from It’s A Stitch Up, or via The Charity Donation Page and feel good to have made a difference today!

Yarn weight: Bulky / 12 ply (7 wpi)
Gauge: 16 stitches and 21 rows stitches = 4 inches/10cm in Stockinette stitch
Needle size: US 8 & 9 – 5 & 5.5 mm
Yardage: 75 – 150 yards (70 – 140 m) used for sample size
Sizes available: 10 sizes, from small baby to large adult
Price: £3.50 add to cart or buy it now

Speckle Dyeing With It’s A Stitch Up Dye Kit

This weekend brought the most exciting post I have had in a long while, and for a change it was something destined for me rather than the Eskimini.

Inside the perfectly presented package were two skeins of Marshmallow Cloud yarn (a chunky weight baby alpaca yarn), soft and buttery to handle, and a Dye Kit. I’d been looking forward to this parcel from It’s A Stitch Up for only a couple of days, and I hadn’t even yet started to dream up what was in store for the yarn, so I decided to start the creative ball rolling by playing with the Dye Kit.

Sold alongside It’s A Stitch Up’s beautiful hand-dyed offerings, the recent expansion of this UK-based venture sees these dye kits which allow even a first-time dyer to create their very own unique yarn in a number of colour ways in their own kitchen, and using the same ethically-sourced yarn milled in the UK as is available beautifully dyed and ready to knit in the store. The dye kits are available in a couple of different bases, and as I unpacked the little box of goodies I found inside a lovely high-twist superwash merino.
Also included in the box were all of the bits and pieces needed to give speckle-dyeing a first go. Everything is thought of, from a miniature sieve (which immediately bought back pre-teabag era memories of my grandparents’ teapot and strainer) to high-quality protective gloves, plus all the materials needed to both create your own masterpiece of yarn dyeing and fix it firmly in place.


A close-up picture of the soaking yarn pre-dye shows the lovely smooth and high-twist texture which gives the yarn it’s bounce and strength.

Following the included instructions to prep the yarn for dyeing was really simple; however, deciding on how to dye the skein was most definitely not! The kit contains two shades of dye, and there are many possibilities on how to use these to create something truly unique. As well as the option to use one or both of the dyes, the dyer can decide on whether to combine the colours or to keep them separate, and whether to go for a dense cover of dye or a more sparsely speckled effect. Enough dye is included to give a good full coverage, but I decided to try to maintain some white areas in my skein.

In the end I decided to twist my yarn into a loose helix, spreading out the strands, and then to dye each side one of the two shades, keeping the two colours separate. I didn’t get a good picture of this step, but it looked something like the sketch below:
Once the dye had been applied this gave three areas of green speckled yarn, three blue, and with a couple of areas with little or no dye. Following the provided instructions I then set the dye using the microwave method, and then waited for the yarn to cool. Eventually the yarn was cool to handle and I had chance to wash and inspect my creation.

Bundled up like this it looks just like a mass of random colour, and to a certain extent that is exactly what it is. Professional indie dyers spend many hundreds and thousands of hours perfecting their craft to provide their customers with fine artisan products, and this was a speckle-dyeing first attempt, but  when I rinsed and hung the skein up to dry I was very excited with the results, and once the skein was fully dry, the re-skeining brought out something I think is really quite lovely.
The areas of colour are not too overwhelming, yet there is still a good balance and coverage of pigment.
Once re-skeined, the colours reminded me of distant photos of the earth, the greens of the land, blues of the oceans and white of the clouds. The speckle dyeing technique allows the dye pigments to spread as you agitate the yarn slightly, leading to variations in the saturation of the dye and strength of colour, and this added further to the depth and variety of the finished skein.
yarny speckled excellenceI am extremely pleased with this skein of yarn, and I am very much looking forward to seeing how it might knit up: I think I shall have to do some experimental swatching before settling on what it shall become.
However, plans for my own hand-dyed skein shall have to wait a while, as before then I have two beautiful skeins of the Marshmallow Cloud yarn to fondle, enjoy and dream up a project or two for; and that is most definitely what I shall enjoy my next few days doing.

Speckle Dyeing kits and It’s A Stitch Up’s ethically sourced and beautiful dyed yarns are available to buy from the online store, and are shipped worldwide for a low flat rate. Whilst visiting the store, do take a moment to read the ethos and philosophy of this wonderful venture for an insight into why ethically sourced yarn and the craftsmanship of our indie dyers should be of utmost important to us as knitters and craftspersons so that we can all better enjoy the things that we create.

I will be back soon with tales of what the two soft bundles of yarn at the top of the post might become, as long as I can tear myself away from enjoying my own speckly creation.


Disclaimer:
I received the above dye kit and yarn free with no obligation to review and I would not endorse a product that I did not think was of excellent quality and value. The above views are entirely my own and have not been suggested or prompted by the vendor. Baby is blogger’s own.