KAL, Knitting, Patty Lyons, Sweater Mapping

Sweater Cartography

It’s no secret that I know quite a bit of stuff about knitting. However, no matter how masterful I might feel about my craft, every once in a while, some new-to-me bit of knitty intel makes me do this:

This time, thanks to the truly masterful knitting teacher and designer, Patty Lyons, and her genius instruction, I recently had one of these how-did-I-not-know-this-before moments. You may recall, a few posts back (Meanwhile: This), I shared a swatch for my then upcoming Patty Lyons Video Sweater class, Gramercy Park.

Before I expound on forehead-smacking piece of newly acquired knowledge, allow me to girl crush on Patty’s unparalleled quality classes.

At a paltry $21.00 USD, this particular class is chock-a-block full of tips, techniques, and tutorials. It’s no exaggeration to say that every last stitch and step of this pattern is provided in both video and written detail. Every. Last. Step. Seriously, if you can knit and purl, you will be able to knit that lacey bit of loveliness with Patty holding and guiding your hand from cast on to bind off. And not only does she demonstrate all the skills, she models them in all major knitting styles: throwers (English), pickers (Continental), and combination (that’s me!). I kid you not, people, at double or even triple the price, this class would still be a deal. Also, through her new website education platform, you have access to the videos, for, like, ever. You can even download them for off-line viewing, if you want. I’m going to say this really loud now: PATTY’S CLASSES ARE THE BESTEST! Go sign up for one right now. I’ll wait.

(Told you I was going to gush)

I hear you, dear knitters, that’s all well and good, but let’s get back to that incredible, game-changing, mind-exploding, life-affirming, must-know knitting thingy that I’m all in a knot about. WHAT IS IT?

It’s sweater mapping. Did you know about sweater mapping? I didn’t. And I simply cannot, at all, even a little bit, believe I never figured it out for myself!

Yeah yeah, you get it, I’m all a-twitter. Now you wanna tell us what it is??

Oh, yes I do – in one sentence:

Sweater mapping is the process of extracting knitting pattern instructions for your size, gauge, and style choices, and transferring them in notation form to a blown up version of the schematic, from which you can then knit the whole garment without hardly having to refer back to your pattern. Yeah. I know. It’s almost too much, right?

Here’s what it looks like:

Those scribbles and notations may look a bit like Greek to you, but trust me, it’s waaaaaay easier to follow than scrambling through a 10-page pattern with 12 sizes to find the number of shaping decreases and rows for your size, while following a lace chart and knitting to a blocked measurement on an un-blocked bit of lace in progress. Still lost? Let me break it down.

As you can see, the original schematic on left is small and surrounded by scary and overwhelming measurements. On the right, is the full page size version, all empty and waiting for you to add your very own, personal info, based on your gauge, size choices, and any other mods you choose to apply. I’ve blurred out some stuff, because I don’t want to give away Patty’s farm. She’s worked very hard on perfecting this design, and I want her to reap the rewards (like, financially, you dig?).

Here’s what all those wacky notations tell me at a glance:

How many stiches to cast on and on what size needles; how far to knit before changing needle size; at what row to start the waist shaping; how many rows between shaping rows; how many stitches I should have when that shaping is done; at what row to start the bust shaping, how many rows between, etc.; where to start the armhole shaping, how many stitches to bind off, etc. All of the length measurements are based on my row gauge taken from my blocked swatch. With a bit of basic math, I know how many rows to knit to get 8″ from the hem, etc. I never have to touch the work with a tape measure.

Yup. All that info from a marked up schematic, which means all I need to look at for the majority of my knitting time is my sweater map and the lace chart.

It also works brilliantly for mods. For instance and example, I wanted a scoop neck instead of a wide crew for this cute pully. I was able to “map” my mods directly on the schematic and make sure that my numbers worked and matched the original all the way up to the shoulders.

Cool, right?

But does it really really work? You betcha. Here’s my back and front, knitted directly off my sweater maps:

I know that scoop looks scary low, but trust me, after the neck finishing it will be significantly more modest. After all, just because I have cleavage to show off, doesn’t mean I should. (Wait…did my great-grandmother just hijack my modesty genes?)

This week, I start the sleeves and then move on to the finishing. There are no fewer than 8 more tutorials videos to take me through the rest of this sweater. I will be watching every single one. Who knows what other nuggets of knitting genius I’ll discover.

What game-changing knitting nuggets have you come across recently? Enquiring minds, and hands, want to know.

Knit well and see you soon! You got this.


4 thoughts on “Sweater Cartography

  1. Nicole,

    I am about to start a Patty Lyons cardigan for my husband. I purchased her KAL package for the sweater and just read a bit about sweater mapping. I love the idea, but I have some questions, such as how do you enlarge the schematic and how do you begin to map? Do you have a class on it or know where I might find one? Thanks so much for your feedback on this.

    Warm regards,

    Pat Marks

    1. Hello, Pat!

      Thank you very much for your question and I deeply apologize for my slow reply. I seem to be having issues getting comment notifications from my site.

      I learned about sweater mapping from the brilliant Patty Lyons. She had a module on it as part of the Gramercy Park online class. I don’t know if there will be a sweater mapping component in the class you’ve purchased or not.

      At any rate, here are two links to articles that Patty wrote for Modern Daily Knitting that contain information about how sweater mapping works. ask-patty-gapping-and-mappingask patty sweater better

      As for enlarging the schematic, I sometimes use my home printer to copy and enlarge, and sometimes I just freehand a rough shape on a piece of paper. It really doesn’t have to be exact, because it’s the notations you will add that hold all the info.

      Let me know how it’s going!

      Cheers, Nicole

      1. Dear Nicole,
        Thanks so much for your response and the links. I watched the video in my KAL by Patty, and will give it a shot. Will definitely watch the links you sent me. I have to say I am so moved by the kindness and info shared by the knitters/makers I have reached out to, yourself included. Thank you.
        Warm regards,

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