I just love to settle down with a cup of hot cocoa, surrounded by pattern books and with a nice fresh pad of graph paper, and plan out a color chart for a new project! The book of charts shown in the photo is Alice Starmore's Fair Isle Knitting, which has hundreds of charts you can use, as well as chapters on choosing and trying out color combinations. The chart I give you for the complex pattern was made by piecing together two of Starmore's patterns, a 17-row design with a simple 3-row design above and below it. The heavy lines on the chart shows where the patterns are fitted together.
If you want to try a chart of your own, find a book of patterns and draw some out. For simple geometric designs like these Fair Isle patterns, plain square-grid graph paper works perfectly, though it might not give you the precise row gauge. Knitter's graph paper--which has "squares" that are wider than high, the same shape as knitting stitches--is useful for pictorial patterns where the exact shapes of objects is important. I have printable versions of both types of graph paper on my own website at http://www.users.cts.com/crash/j/jgibson/knitting/tidbits.htm.
The first problem you'll need to solve in designing a sock using a complicated pattern is that the repeat of the pattern is large, while the number of stitches you need for the sock leg is relatively small. You won't have a lot of leeway in how to fit the design. Generally a complex pattern has conspicuous motifs that you'll want to place precisely on your sock. For example, you might want to center your motif on the front of the leg, and let the ends wrap around to the back seam. This will take some careful planning.
If I had done the sock in a finer yarn, say a sock yarn with 60 stitches around the leg, the number of repeats would have been an odd number (5) and the cross would not land on the front of the leg where I wanted it. To force it to center on the front, I'd have to start the pattern at the center of the X instead of the center of the cross, so that there's a half pattern on each side of the back of the leg.
I've marked both of these starting points on the chart. If you have an even number of repeats, start at the right side, above the arrow marked "even." If you have an odd number of repeats, start at the center, above the arrow marked "odd." By the way, I'm using the word "seam," but I'm not talking about a sewn seam here. I mean the line up the back of the leg where the round begins.
I've added four stitches to my circumference (giving me a total of 52 stitches for the sock) by replacing the first stitch of the repeat pattern (in the first repeat only--at the back seam) by the five-stitch seam pattern shown in the chart. A heavy line on the chart marks the first column that was deleted to allow for the seam pattern. (I altered the seam chart a bit after I finished my sample, since I didn't like the way the lower edge looked.)
In the photo of the two back seams, you can see the jog showing up in the exact repeat. The arms of the cross are mis-aligned. This also shows in the one with the seam pattern if you know to look for it, but is much less obvious.
Since this pattern was so heavy I decided to make the whole foot plain. the pattern might have fit around the foot, or I could have chosen to use a few bands of a simpler pattern just to make the foot more interesting. This is up to you, the designer!
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