How to read cable charts with purl stitches included
Let’s move on now to a chart with purl stitches included (cable panel A from Mahonia). Not only are we dealing with purl stitches, but also with non-symmetrical cables, where two stitches are moved over one stitch only, and that stitch needs to be a purl stitch to make the reverse stocking-stitch background within the panel.
Highlighted you can see where the C4F from chart A also comes into play on row 5.
Written out, row 3 would be:
(slip the next 2 stitches to cable needle and hold at front, P1, K2 from cable needle), P2, repeat (), [slip the next stitch to cable needle and hold at back, K2, P1 from cable needle], P2, repeat [ ].
This could be abbreviated to ‘T3F, P2, T3F, T3B, P2, T3B’, but perhaps with even fewer clues as to what your finished row would look like than the ‘C4B, C4F’.
The chart, however, clearly shows how the knit stitches set up in rows 1 and 2 move across the background purl stitches, shown by dots in the chart. It is the standard convention to use a ‘blank’ square in a chart to show that the stitch is knitted on the RS of the work, and purled on the WS, and a dot to show a purl on the RS and a knit on the WS.
Knitted up, chart A begins to look quite recognisable.
If cables are comprised only of ordinary knit and purl stitches, then the basics described above work on all charts.
Like many things in knitting, it’s often a lot easier to do than to explain, so any knitter stands to benefit from trying a cable chart at least once. All good charts should have a key with written instructions to get you going; even if they haven’t, though, a few minutes of study and a couple of highlighter pens should be enough to break down the most complicated chart into components that can be easily understood.