Converting a Chart from Circular to Flat Knitting

The cowl I’m making to go with the Greenery Beret from Weekend Hats is coming along slowly, but I should be ready to block and graft it this weekend.

In my last post, I had just finished the first chart repeat.

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And here’s where I am as of this morning.

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I really love the Lace Fan pattern that Melissa LaBarre, the designer, chose for her hat. It’s one of many variations of the classic feather-and-fan stitch and I thought it would make a beautiful cowl.

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Since the pattern was written for working the hat in the round, I had to adapt the chart for working the cowl back and forth. When a pattern is worked circularly, every chart row is read from right to left because that’s the direction in which every round is worked (and with the right side facing). So one decision you have to make when converting a chart from circular to flat knitting is which rows will be right-side rows and which will be wrong-side rows (and read from left to right). In this case, the decision was easy. I knew I didn’t want to have to come up with wrong-side versions of the triple decreases (4 stitches decreased to 1 stitch) that are worked on even-numbered rows, so I made those rows right-side rows and made the odd-numbered rows (the plain knit and purl rows) wrong-side rows. Another thing you have to consider is how to deal with the edges in a flat piece. A pattern that’s worked in the round won’t have any selvedges, so you have to decide what kind of edge stitches to add. For the cowl, I worked three stitches in garter stitch on each side. The changes from round to flat were easy enough that I just made a few notes on my printout of the Lace Fan chart.

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When working the chart circularly, Rows 1, 11 and 13 are worked on the right side and are purled. Since these rows are now wrong-side rows for my cowl, they must be knit to achieve a purl ridge on the right side of the work. All the even-numbered (right-side) rows are worked the same flat as they are when working circularly, with the addition of the three-stitch garter edging at each side. There are two triple decreases worked on Rows 2, 6, and 10, a right-slanting decrease and a left-slanting decrease. The right-slanting decrease is a k4tog and the left-slanting decrease called for in the pattern is a sl 1, k3tog, psso. I changed the left-slanting decrease to ssssk (a longer version of ssk) because I found it a little easier to work. Rows 3, 5, 7 and 9 are worked on the wrong side like this: K3 (garter edging), *k1, p13, k1; repeat from * to last 3 stitches, k3 (garter edging). Notice that the repeated portion of the pattern is the exact opposite of how it would be worked for the hat (p1, k13, p1) to achieve the same look on the right side. Because the wrong-side rows in this chart are symmetrical, they can be read either from right to left or left to right. But if they weren’t symmetrical, it would be important to read these chart rows from left to right, otherwise the stitch pattern will be reversed relative to the right-side rows.

For the cowl, I cast on 51 stitches (3 chart repeats, plus 6 edge stitches), using the crochet chain provisional method. Because I wanted to graft the ends together, I had to choose two of the chart rows to set aside for the grafting. It’s always nice to find two consecutive plain rows in a pattern to keep the grafting as simple as possible. And, fortunately, there were several plain-row pairs to choose from in this pattern. To make the grafting even easier, there are several consecutive rows of garter stitch, one of the easiest patterns to graft. I decided to use Row 14 for the front needle graft and Row 1 for the back needle graft and will graft using these steps:

Set-up Steps

Step 1: Front needle, purlwise on.

Step 2: Back needle, purlwise on.

Repeated Sequence

Step 3: Front needle, knitwise on, purlwise off.

Step 4: Back needle, knitwise on, purlwise off.

Repeat Steps 3 and 4 until 1 stitch remains on each needle.

Ending Steps

Step 5: Front needle, knitwise off.

Step 6: Back needle, knitwise off.

This version of garter stitch grafting will result in a knit valley row on the front needle and a purl ridge row on the back needle (as viewed from the right side of the work).

After casting on, I worked Rows 2-14 of the chart, then repeated Rows 1-14. When the cowl is long enough, I’ll end with Row 13 and break the yarn, leaving a tail that’s long enough to graft the stitches (about 4 times the width of the cowl). I’ll put the stitches on waste yarn and block the cowl before grafting because I find this helps to maintain the correct stitch tension when I’m grafting. I might steam the grafted row after it’s complete if it needs it, but I find that’s not always necessary (it depends on the stitch pattern).

The yarn I’m using is MJ Yarns Opulent Fingering Weight, a merino/cashmere/nylon blend hand-dyed in Lafayette, Colorado. I saw their booth this past June at the Estes Park Wool Market and fell in love with the colors (and the intriguing color names).

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I only purchased one skein of the red and will use all of it for the cowl, but I also bought a skein of the same yarn in a lovely, soft gray (Steel) that I’ll use for the hat and I think they’ll look great together.


Now that I’ve had a chance to see how this stitch pattern looks in a cowl, I think it would make a stunning baby blanket. So many possibilities!



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