Any method of casting on should do, however, as long as it gives a tight enough result.
I’ve chosen the symbols for the charts here, because they are quickly available on the keyboard, but also because they are easy to jot down on a piece of paper by hand. I usually cut empty cereal boxes or similar into pieces and write my charts onto them. The cards can easily be put somewhere in front of me where I can see them during knitting. (My personal code consists just of A, B, C and D, however, and for some reason I write the charts against the common way from top to bottom, so I have to convert them here.)
All you need to know is:
K = knit
P = purl
O = slip with yarn at back (to remember: your ability to see the working thread behind the stitch is zero)
X = slip stitch with yarn in front (to remember: your ability to see the working thread is checked, because it is in your view in front of stitch)
Kb = knit by inserting into back loop of stitch.
The last is only needed for first stitches in a row. I recommend that you slip each last stitch in a row with yarn in front, and knit it as the first stitch in the next row by inserting the needle into its back loop. This will make neat edges, and also clearly indicates the colour of the yarn used.
The charts are read as usual, from bottom up, uneven rows from right to left, even rows from left to right. The two symbols outside the vertical lines represent the action at each selvage; the elements in between are the actions to repeat.
There will be patterns, which require one additional action on one side because they are symmetrical. But this is really only necessary if the selvage is visible, as in a scarf, and will be indicated in red.
The chart on the left is for flat knitting; the chart on the right is for knitting in the round.
In this case the numbers in between indicate five different colour sequences with the numbers of rows to be repeated for each. The colour of a number indicates the colour to be used for this row. There are mostly either two or three colours required. You can of course indicate the colours you actually use on paper.
Having a go?
I recommend casting on at least 4 times the elements to repeat, plus 2 stitches for the edges. A lesser amount of repeats will not show the pattern clearly. It will also only show properly after a few vertical repeats. The reason is that it is the interaction of stitches with stitches below, above and beside each other that constitutes the structure of the pattern and the resulting colour effect. These “neighbours” are missing at the bottom, edges and at the end of the swatch.
Phew! It’s amazing how many words are needed to describe something pretty simple, which you will recognise if you give it a go and do one or two colour sequences. I’ll give a few more hints and tips later, which you might better understand afterwards.
When working the first colour sequence, the two sides of the swatch should look like this
The pattern will obviously show more boldly when heavier yarn is used.
When casting off, don't knit every stitch before you pull the previous one over it. Just pull each stitch through the previous one, like in a crochet chain. Otherwise the cast off will be too loose. To have a thread to be pulled through the last loop, start casting off after you've knitted an even row. The other colour's thread can then be used for this.
Pictures of the results of the other colour sequences will be in my next post. If you are up for a little surprise, just try them out now!