Colorless green dreams sleep furiously

P6240484-2I have been obsessed for the last week with a new knitting tool called Stitch Maps. They’re a new kind of knitting chart that is more like a crochet chart – that is, the stitches aren’t necessarily placed in a grid. Instead, the web app takes written instructions and turns them into a stitch map, in which rows and columns wave and merge in the shapes the stitches take in the actual knitted fabric. Among other things, this eliminates the need for “no stitch” squares in the chart. Go have a look, read the documentation, browse the stitch library, have fun!

After looking at enough stitch maps with the column guide feature turned on, I realized that they reminded me of the syntax trees I looked at in my college linguistics classes twenty years ago. This made me wonder what would happen if I tried converting a syntax tree into a stitch map.

I decided to use the classic example sentence, Colorless green dreams sleep furiously. (Any English sentence of the form adjective adjective noun verb adverb would produce the same result.) The swatches above show what the actual knitting looks like. The bottom part shows the design with alternating plain rows; the top shows it with pattern stitches on every row. Each version has its charms.

colorless green dreams sleep furiouslyHere is the regular chart, chock full of no-stitch squares and looking nothing like the final result. I think both kinds of chart have their virtues; I might start using both for my published patterns.

P.S. Remember my knitted Hug stitch pattern? I made it a stitch map.



6 thoughts on “Colorless green dreams sleep furiously”

  1. That is amazing and beautiful! Thanks for sharing. I can see how this might help someone put together how lace is built. Although I have to admit that the straight-lines version (even with the sometimes-confusing blank spaces) is easier for me to read.

    1. Thank you!

      I have an easier time with regular grid charts myself, but I’ve also been trying the stitch maps with using the built-in row marker (it’s a paid feature), and it works well in that case. It would be much harder to do with a printout. If I start using stitch maps in my patterns, it will be as an extra feature, not a replacement for regular charts.

      I’m thinking that it will help people learn to read their knitting if they can see which stitches are attached to other stitches, and help when a stitch needs to be dropped and hooked back up.

      It’s also really made designing new stitch patterns much easier. I’m in the midst of working on a themed stitch dictionary, and Stitch Maps have cut out several stages of preliminary swatching. Swatching is still required, but not so much!

  2. I, too, am really dependent on grids. For one thing, my stitching only gets wavy as it gets away from the needles. The row I’m working on is a straight line on the needles, so wavy doesn’t help. And I work from grids on my laptop, so I’m just advancing the chart against the top of the window–harder to do with wavy lines. Also, I want every 10th vertical line to be darker on the grid: when I’m trying to see where there’s a problem, I compare 10 grid stitches to 10 needle stitches and work my way across the row.

    But I can see how it would be helpful to a designer, especially since it probably makes it harder for you leave a stitch dangling in your design, the way it can happen on grids.

    1. The only reason I can see for the wavy version helping is that it is part of what eliminates the “no stitch” square requirement, which some people find so very confusing. It doesn’t bother me, but I can understand how it could bother someone else.

      It’s also helpful for reading one’s knitting several rows later, if only because it helps make a landmark for when to look for a particular stitch.

      But otherwise, this might well be more useful to designers, despite the stated purpose. 🙂

  3. Hi, just a note about two versions pf this pattern… it is a very interesting exercise, and one I always wondered about: how will the look of the lace change if if i knitted one where lace pattern is worked only on the right side and then the second version where it is worked on right and wrong side… and here I have an answer…
    Thank you so much!

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