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Saturday Morning Hoodie Knit-Along, Part 5: Now the Hoodie has a Hood!

February 24th, 2011

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I must be getting near the home stretch of the Saturday Morning Hoodie, because I have finally reached the part that that makes it one: the hood. This last week I sewed in the second sleeve, and then I decided to sew the side and sleeve seams together as well. (This just makes the piece a little more manageable to work on.) After the fronts, sleeves and back are all sewn together at the raglan edges, I can pick up stitches for the hood.

I am working on the second size in this pattern and it tells me to pick up a total of 45 stitches around the neckline. Sometimes, knitting patterns tell you exactly how many stitches to pick up for each section of a neck, but for this pattern the total number is given–and I have an easy way to evenly pick up stitches! (As always, highlighted photos can be clicked on to enlarge.)

I really do like using detachable markers (or safety pins) to mark off sections and all I did was fold the neck in half, and place one marker at the center back. Then I folded each of these halves into quarters and marked each of these sections off. So, with the neck in quarters, I only have to pick up 11 in each section, and one extra (probably at the center back). By working from marker to marker, this makes the job easier than to just hope to have the total number picked up by the time I get to the end of the neck. Another tip: I also like to pick up my stitches with my smaller needle for a neater look and then work with the larger needle for the rest of the hoodie.

After working the hood for 11″, I shaped the top of the hood to create the top of the hood. Then I worked even for another 5” (for the top of the hood) and bound off.

Look! I just sewed the bound off edges to the sides of the center piece and a hood emerges!

All I have to do this next week is the ribbing for the front bands, sewing the pockets to the fronts and working the bands of the pockets. Oh, and one of my favorite things to do – find some great buttons!

How is your hoodie coming along? Leave a comment and let us know!

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Saturday Morning Hoodie Knit-Along, Part 4: The Nature of a Raglan

February 17th, 2011

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This certainly was a good week for me to work on two sleeves that are both identical and symmetrical.  It is that time of the year I find myself at college swimming meets for my daughter, which gives me time to enjoy watching her swim and also work on a great take-along projects–like sleeves to the Saturday Morning Hoodie!

Whenever I finish knitting the fronts and back for a cardigan, I think about how I can work another part of the sweater before I sew in the sleeves.  If I could have started the hood at home while my sleeves-in-progress were in my knitting bag, I might have done that but…this is a “raglan” sweater, which means that the top edge of the sleeves are part of the neck.  In raglan sweaters, there are no shoulder seams just the diagonal seams that connect the sleeves to the back on one side and a front on the other.  So, I have to complete the sleeves and sew them to the fronts and back before I can work on the hood.

One question I always ask myself when making a sweater is whether the length of the sleeves will be long enough.  I have longer arms than most, and usually I have to add an inch or more to a pattern.  For a cardigan that does have shoulder seams, I have my knitting students (as well as myself) sew up the shoulder seams and try on the sweater before they start the sleeves.  Then we can measure how long the sleeves for their sweater should be.  But for this raglan, there is another easy way to if you need to make the sleeve longer or shorter.  Remember that the reason that raglan sleeves look so long is because they are knitted all the way up to the neck.

If you look at all the schematics for all sizes of the Saturday Morning Hoodie, you can see that the length of the raglan itself is the same on the sleeves, back, and raglan edge of the fronts.  Looking again at all the sizes, I see all the total length of the sleeves are 2″ more than the total length of the back.  So, if you have already made your back the length called for in the pattern, just hold up that back to yourself (as if it were the sleeve) with the top up to the neckline.  When I did this, I could see that a couple more inches in length would be just right – so I kept the sleeves the same length as called for in the pattern.  If you do want to shorten or lengthen the sleeves, then you only have to add or subtract length before you work your raglan shaping.

After I worked the sleeves, I lightly blocked them like my back and fronts and using detachable markers, I have attached one of my sleeves to the front and the back.

I always use markers when sewing up any seams and just work from “marker to marker.”  This makes finishing a little less daunting and I won’t have to worry about one side ending up longer than the other.

I sewed together the stitches that were bound off for the underarms by sewing stitch to stitch as shown below:

But for sewing up the raglans, I use the “mattress stitch” (below), sewing together the “bars” of the stitches.

I also always sew up my raglans with the right side facing me and since I worked my raglan decreases a stitch in from the edge, it makes for a much neater and easier seam to work!

Now, I will just sew in that other sleeve and then I’ll be able to pick up stitches and start the hood!
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Saturday Morning Hoodie Knit-Along, Part 3: The Fronts – Left, Right, Forward and Reverse

February 10th, 2011

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With the back of my Saturday Morning Hoodie finished, it’s now on to the fronts!  It certainly is not too late for any of you to join in,  because with a stitch gauge of 2 1/2 stitches to the inch,  this hoodie “grows” very quickly. I really like working the back of a sweater (especially a cardigan) first for a few reasons.  Usually, they are symmetrically shaped and for a cardigan, you can just work the fronts to correspond the back when it comes to the underarm and side raglan shaping.

A great addition to this hoodie pattern (since it became our Winter KAL) are the detailed instructions for the right front as well as the left.  Many times, knitting patterns with a left and right front won’t include full instructions for the second front, but rather tell you to just “reverse” the shaping directions of the first side. Sometimes this isn’t a problem, but this hoodie has the pocket facings (the fronts of the pockets) made simultaneously with the rest of the front, so it can be nice to have them spelled out for you.

The instructions start with the left front, and I thought I would take some pictures along the way to show how that front along with the pocket facing progresses.  Sometimes a picture (or two, or three) makes the instructions much easier to comprehend.

OK, so I worked the ribbing for my left front then after a couple rows of stockinette stitch, I placed the side stitches called for on a holder.  The ones on the needle are for the pocket facing (which is the outside, or front of the pocket).  Then I knit on just those stitches for 9″. (To enlarge any of these photos, simply click on them.)

Then, the facing stitches were placed on another holder, and I did a “switcheroo” by placing those originally held stitches back onto the needle.  Then I cast on stitches to this needle that will be the part of the left front – behind the pocket.

The front stitches are knit up for 9″, and then the stitches I had just cast on are bound off. (This creates the back of the pocket.)  On the next row the stitches on hold for the pocket facing are joined with the rest of the stitches.  This makes a nice, seamless join–and as long as I am careful sewing the inside of front to the facing–it will look great.   (I’ll do that a little later.)

Then, after working a few more inches of stockinette stitch, I followed the instructions for the raglan shaping when the front measured the same as the back to the armhole.  Of course, I will only shape on the armhole side.  The pattern calls for shaping at the neck about 2″ less than the back.  I found I still had to do about 3 more decreases at the raglan edge as well before it was all finished.  When I had 2 stitches left, I just worked them together and fastened off.

The right side is worked just like the left, only that the pocket facing is on the right side as you can see below.  The instructions give all the numbers – so it is much easier!   Both of the fronts curled quite a bit, so I again just lightly blocked them with a spray bottle and let them dry.

Later, I will be picking up along the pocket edges and lightly sewing those pockets on the inside.  Since this is a raglan, I’m really not able to do any seaming yet as I need to make those raglan sleeves to join the fronts and the back.    The sleeves are both the same, so no reverse shaping will be necessary this upcoming week.  Forward, knit!

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Saturday Morning Hoodie Knit-Along, Part 2: Starting the Hoodie with Thoughts of a Great Finish

February 3rd, 2011

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I think that if there ever was a “Winter to Knit” contest, this winter would take 1st prize!  It’s great to see so many of you join our Winter Knit-Along (KAL)  and it certainly is not too late to join making the Saturday Morning Hoodie.  Some of you have ordered your yarn, or already have your yarn, or may still be wondering what yarn to use.  In last week’s post, I wrote about how this sweater uses Wool-Ease Chunky – a category 5 yarn – which is a bulky weight.  I had also suggested some other bulky yarns that would work great for this pattern.  Then I saw the blog post here on the Lion Brand Notebook talking about using two colors (two strands) of yarn to make beautiful colors. I brought out some of my worsted weight yarns and found that holding two strands together of worsted Wool-Ease or 2 strands of Fishermen’s Wool, works up great at a gauge of 10 sts = 4” (the gauge in the pattern.)  If you don’t mind holding two strands together, and haven’t found the yarn you want to use, or would like to use two colors together, this is a great option.  Just remember that you will need double the yardage of yarn called for the Wool-Ease Chunky.

Before I talk about how far I was able to get on the Saturday Morning Hoodie, please print out an updated version of the pattern if you haven’t already.  There are a few corrections to the original (they appear in red type in the “Corrections” section and are incorporated in the pattern below), but there is a great addition to this pattern: Many times a pattern for a cardigan will instruct you to work the second front by working it the same as the first front, but tell you to reverse shaping.  For some knitters who have done this before, it doesn’t cause too many problems, but to make this pattern even more accessible, the reverse instructions for right front are now a part of the pattern! Next week, I’ll talk about how the pockets are knit at the same time the fronts are worked, but all the instructions are there for both fronts now.

So, this week I worked and finished the back of my hoodie and I was happy how it worked up, but even happier when I blocked out my back piece.  When I was finished with the back, it, like many other stockinette stitch pieces curled:

This can make the finishing more difficult, but there are ways to make your pieces more “finishing friendly.” When I finished my back, I dampened it with a spray bottle and then just pinned it to the correct measurements (see below).  Many times after I dampen the pieces, I can just gently pull them out to the correct size.  When the pieces dry, they are ready for finishing.  (I didn’t pin the ribbing so it wouldn’t stretch out–but it looks like the schematic to me!)

The other way I made this back “finishing friendly” was to do work my decreases a stitch in from the edge (see below).  In other words, I worked an edge stitch, then either knitted or purled the next two stitches together.  This makes an edge that it much easier to sew to the raglan edges of the sleeves.  I’ll make sure to work the other raglan edges like this on the sleeves and front raglan edges as well.

I’m on to the fronts now and will work that left front with pocket first (I’ll also keep the back handy to compare to the fronts), so let’s continue on together. Keep those fingers busy and keep warm!

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Saturday Morning Hoodie Knit-Along, Part 1: A Truly His & Hers Hoodie

January 27th, 2011

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I am very happy to be here again to lead our 2011 Winter Knit-Along (KAL) with all of you! I think the Saturday Morning Hoodie is a great choice for so many reasons, and I know you will enjoy making it during the rest of what has been a very cold and snowy winter. It is hard to believe that it has been a year since our Inishturk Sweater Knit-Along (finished sweater from that KAL is at the right), and this winter has made that sweater such a welcome sight in my sweater closet (and yes, my kitty still likes it too), so I know the Saturday Morning Hoodie Knit-Along will be just as rewarding!

Although there is a handsome young man modeling this year’s Saturday Morning Hoodie, it truly is a unisex garment that will look great on so many of us! So, let’s talk about sizes, yarn choices and one of my favorite subjects (really!): gauge.

So, first and foremost–the pattern is free and if you haven’t already–go and download the pattern and print it out; click here for the pattern. [Editor’s note 1/27/11: We updated the pattern with written out instructions for the reverse shaping and some extra clarification, so if you downloaded the pattern previously, please click the link to re-download it.]

Now, what size to make? It appears at first glance that the pattern is written for 12 different sizes – but in reality there are six. Since this is a unisex pattern, the six sizes are sorted by standard men’s sizes and standard women’s sizes. Either way, the finished sizes for this pattern are 40 (44, 48, 52, 56, 60)”. When trying to choose a size, I usually look at a garment that I have already similar to the weight and fit like the one in the picture – then I just measure it around the chest. This garment is loose-fitting, so when choosing a size, keep in mind that it should be about 4-6″ larger than actual bust or chest measurements.

I’ve decided to make the second of the six sizes: the women’s medium (or men’s small) with a finished bust of 44″. I really do like this hoodie, but am making a size that my husband can wear as well if he likes. (I always say that, but it’s yours truly who is always chilly!)

The yarn called for in this sweater is Wool-Ease® Chunky which is a bulky weight yarn and is a “Category 5” yarn by weight (thickness). Other Category 5/bulky weight yarns that would work great for this would be Alpine Wool, Tweed Stripes, Homespun, or–for a more season-transitional yarn–Baby’s First, which is a cotton/acrylic blend. I’ve decided to work this one in the Wool-Ease Chunky and have chosen the color “Wheat” – a great natural shade with flecks of black and brown.

For the 44″ finished size, the pattern calls for 9 skeins of the Wool-Ease Chunky, so my choice was an easy one! If you want to make this in another bulky-weight yarn, make sure that you go by yardage for the correct amount of yarn. Each skein of the Wool-Ease Chunky has 153 yard (140 meters) so this converts to approximately 1380(1530, 1690, 1840, 1990) yards [or about 1260 (1400, 1540, 1680, 1820) meters for the six sizes].

I’ve been working with my gauge and found that the US 13 needle called for in the pattern was the right size to get the 10 sts and 13 rows for 4 inches. I know as a knitting teacher that gauge is not always easy for many knitters, but stick with it and make sure to change needles until you get the right gauge! And if you need a “refresher” on gauge, click here. (For the best results, be sure to wash/block the swatch just as you will the finished garment to get a “finished” gauge.)

I’ve already cast on my stitches for the back on my smaller needles (US 11) and am working on the ribbing. I’m looking forward to your comments, so let’s knit and keep those fingers warm this winter! See you next week!

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Inishturk Sweater Knit-Along: The Final Touches and Finish Line!

March 4th, 2010

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This Inishturk Sweater KAL has gone by so quickly and it has been a joy to see so many of you join, knit and learn. For those of you who haven’t finished your Inishturk yet, don’t worry! This KAL remains here for you to go back and read any of the posts or helpful comments from other participants. I finished my Inishturk yesterday — and just in time, since I would love to have a new sweater with this very long winter!

In last week’s post, I joined the shoulder seams with a 3-needle bind off, a technique that is perfect for matching patterns. Of course, you can sew those shoulders together after you have bound-off and I remembered the post about sewing together a cabled piece of the Cable Luxe Tunic, the KAL we did a year ago.

After I finished the shoulders, I picked up for the neck and found that I needed to pick up a few more along the front neck sides, but I decreased on the next round to the total number of stitches called for in the pattern. The second round has us decreasing 10 stitches across the stitches that were on the front holder and another 10 across the stitches that were on the back holder to accommodate for all those cable stitches that were in that center cable. If you decide to have your neck a little larger, just make sure that you have a multiple of 4 stitches for the k2, p2 ribbing.

I usually keep my sleeve stitches on a holder before I bind them off, just in case I need to adjust the length. After I finished the neck, I put on the sweater without the sleeves and then could see if I needed to adjust the length of the sleeves. Many times need to add an inch to sleeves, but these were just right! I bound off the sleeves and then saw how that double-seed stitch made the sleeves slightly “wonky”.

(The sleeve on the left shows how they both looked when they were finished. The one on the right was “blocked” by just dampening with a spray bottle and left to dry.)

After they both were dry, I used my markers to correctly place them where they need to be sewn to the body. I forgot to place a marker on each side of the front and back where the pattern told me to mark the sleeve placement. But my sleeves are 20″ across at the time, so I just measured down 10″ from the top for the front and back, and attached the sleeve making sure that the center of the sleeve is in line with the shoulder seam. I always use detachable markers (or safety pins) for my sewing and work from marker to marker for a nice even seam.

All that was left to do was sew up the side and sleeve seams — again, sewing from the right side and using those markers. I wove in the ends, put the Inishturk down for a minute and went looking for my camera.

When I came back, my faithful assistant was already doing her final inspection!

I love this sweater! Thank you all that have voted for this KAL and especially all of you who have participated, asked questions, left comments and shown photos of your Inishturk!

As you finish, please post photos of you and your sweater in our Flickr Group so we can see your results!

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Inishturk Sweater Knit-Along: Blocking, Seaming, and Getting Ready to Finish

February 25th, 2010

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The pieces to my Inishturk sweater are looking good with the front and back done and the sleeves still coming along.  Some of you have finished (congrats!) and some have just begun (welcome!), but most of us are still “in progress.”  Many times, when I sew together a sweater, I just lay the pieces out and start sewing if the pieces are close to the correct size.  But before of you do, some of you will want to block the pieces. Why? Some of you have noticed how the cables have pulled in the fabric, as cables like to do! For example, my back is supposed to measure 22″ inches across, but after I knit it, it is only 20″.

Even if your gauge is right on the mark, this happens because of the cables. So, before I sew together a sweater that has a lot of cables, I just gently block it to size with a spray bottle of water.  I simply spritz the front and back of a piece with water so that it is damp, let it set a minute or two, and then just gently pull or shape it to size. Next, I let it dry completely. Since I used the Fisherman’s Wool, the natural fiber just eased up almost by itself!  Here it is at 22″:

My arms are usually a little longer than most patterns call for, so I like to put my front and back together first, work the collar, and then I put the sweater on to see just how long I would like my sleeves.  This pattern is easy to adapt the sleeves – you can just make them shorter or longer without having to worry about any sleeve cap shaping.

Before I can do that, I need to sew those shoulders — but I’ve decided not to sew them at all! This pattern is perfect for working the 3 needle bind-off to join the shoulders.  So I put the stitches of the shoulders back onto needles, worked the 3 needle bind-off, and I couldn’t have sewn a better seam if I tried! See the results below:

Now I just need to pick up stitches for the neck.   I really like this pattern, because it tells me exactly how many stitches to pick up and where to pick them up.  Knitting this collar in the round leaves even less seams to sew!

(As always, photos above with outlines and highlighted techniques are “clickable” for more details and/or information.)

How are you coming on your sweater? Let us know, or share photos by joining our Flickr group!

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Inishturk Sweater Knit-Along: The Inishturk Shapes Up

February 18th, 2010

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The Inishturk Sweater is certainly a cabled sweater of “Olympic” proportions!  I know I’m not the only one having fun knitting it while watching the 2010 Winter Games.  One reason this sweater is a great project to work with cables is because there is very little shaping in this sweater.  However, we do have necks and arms!   So there is a little shaping at the top of the back and front as well as the sides of the sleeves.   Some of you have been wondering how to keep your knitting in pattern while working the shaping of the neck and sleeves.  On all the wrong side rows, the instructions are to knit the knit stitches and purl the purl stitches.   This can be confusing when you shape this sweater, because all of a sudden, the patterns change.

The shaping for the sleeves (for all the sizes) has us increasing 1 stitch each side of the sleeve every 3rd row 8 times, then every 4th row 15 times.   Keeping the Double Seed stitch pattern can be a challenge doing that when you will need to increase on the right side (RS) and sometimes on the wrong side (WS).  The main thing to remember is on the RS, knit the purl and purl the knit stitches.  On the WS, knit the knit stitches and purl the purl stitches.

One of the best skills to have as a knitter is to be able to “read” your stitches.  In other words, know if they are knits or purls.  So, look at the stitches as they appear right now rather than how they were worked on the row before.  So, if your stitch appears like this picture (to the right, in pink), it is a knit stitch (even though it was a purled the row before.)  These are the stitches you purl on the RS and knit on the WS.

OK – so here (in green) is a picture of a purl stitch as it “appears” (there is always a “bump” at the base of it).  One of my students told me she learned how to identify a stitch as a purl, by the “pearl” necklace it is wearing!  These are the stitches you will knit on the RS and purl on the WS.

Sometimes the edge stitches might be difficult to “read”, so just look at the next couple of stitches to figure out whether that edge stitch is a knit or a purl.  And if the edge stitches don’t look perfect – don’t worry – they will be in the seam before you know it!

What about those cables patterns when you are shaping the neck?  The main rule is to not work a cable if you do not have enough stitches to do it.  Just work those stitches in stockinette stitch.  Below you can see the shaping I’m doing on the front left neck. It looks a little strange, but when I pick up stitches for the neck, it will look fine.

This sweater is “shaping” up nicely, and soon we’ll be at our own “finish line”!

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Inishturk Sweater Knit-Along: Making (and Fixing) Cables

February 11th, 2010

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It has been great reading how many unique ways we all keep track of those cable patterns while making the Inishturk Sweater.  So, whether you’re reading the row by row instructions, working charts, using your computer or index cards to keep things straight, it’s all good!

Now here’s some very good news for all you who like to use charts.  The Inishturk pattern now has all the charts included, and it shows the placement of those charts!

This sweater is a “cable lover’s” dream.  I was looking over all the cables in this sweater pattern and realized that, by the time we have finished 16 rows, we have made well over 100 cables!  And as with all things, one or two (or more) of those cables is bound to go the wrong way!

While I was admiring how pretty the cables looked on my Inishturk the other day, I suddenly notice something awry about 4″ from the top…

Ooops. The center cable on Panel A is not correct, as all those cables on that row should be slanting to the right. I love to call these little mistakes “hiccups” in my knitting. At first I thought I might take my knitting back to that point — but we have a KAL to do here! So, sometimes there are little tricks to soothe our hiccups.

With my tapestry needle and yarn, I decide to make a stitch!  Some of you may have already tried a technique called “duplicate stitch” (where you embroider a mock knit stitch onto your project with needle and yarn.)  This technique is used a lot when you only need to make a single or a few stitches of a different color on top of your knitting.  But in this case, it can be a handy technique if your cable is going the wrong way!

In order to help you see this duplicate stitch I’ve made it below in a contrasting color.  I just came up from the back of my work at the base of the missing “stitch”, and ran it under the base of the stitch where I wanted it to connect. Then I inserted my needle into the same place I had started.

Now here it is with the matching yarn.  I just wove the ends into the back of my sweater…and it’s like nothing ever happened!

With all of these cables, I decided to start one of my sleeves as knitting I can take with me when I’m away from home.  The front and back will stay next to my sofa where I can give them all the attention they need!

What about you? How is your sweater going? Also, don’t forget to share photos with us on our Flickr group!!

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Inishturk Sweater Knit-Along: Visual Patterns – Charts

February 4th, 2010

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I can remember over 20 years ago when I was in college (and working part-time in a yarn shop!) that some knitting stitch patterns were starting to written in chart form.  I had always knitted cable and lace patterns with instructions that wrote out what to do row by row.  I was used to doing that, but once I learned how to read charts, I found them to actually be much easier to follow.  Quite a few of you have asked for charts for the stitch patterns in the Inishturk sweater pattern since they were not included.  I knew I would like them, too.  So, this week we have charts for the 3 larger cable patterns.

I’ve decided to include a little tutorial about how to read charts for those of you who have never tried them.  So, below is a chart for Cable C:

This chart is a visual of the written instructions for Cable C.  You can see that row numbers 1 and 3 are on the right of the chart and rows 2 and 4 are on the left.  So, for row 1 (the RS) you will work the chart from right to left.  Then, row 2 (WS) is read from left to right.  (For those of you who are working this sweater in the round, you will read every row of the chart from right to left, because you are going in a circle!)

Alright, each square is a stitch and depending whether you are on the right side or wrong side of your piece, will determine how you read the symbols that go with the chart.  The symbols for these charts are can be found here [PDF; must have Adobe Reader (free at to open].

The stitches that are empty are worked as knit stitches on the right side and as purl stitches on the wrong side.  The purl stitches that are indicated by a” “on the right side are knit on the wrong side.  So, now all you need to match up is the symbols to the cables on the charts.  There are a lot of different variations of 2, 3, and 4 stitch cables in this pattern, so just match them carefully to each other to see which stitches are knit, purled and whether you hold that cable needle to the front or the back.

OK, so here is the chart for Panel A (As always, you can click outlined images, like the ones below, to enlarge):

And…ta-da, the chart for Panel B (Again, click the image to enlarge):

So, for those of you who have been wanting these charts – enjoy!  I always find it always helps to enlarge those charts as you are working them.  For those of you who have never done a chart, give it a try and you may find you like these visual instructions!

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