FAQs for Larch
Why the complicated cast-on? Why not just cast on 7 stitches and start knitting?
When you are going to block a shawl you want it to be able to stretch in all directions and this means that you need a stretchy cast-on, too. If you were to just cast on 7 stitches and start knitting, you'd find that the fabric pulled very tight and wouldn't block particularly well (or look that great) when it came time to finish the piece. By working the provisional cast-on used in the pattern, you create a stretchy base that blends in with the rest of the little shawl and blocks like a dream.
Are there written directions for the chart?
No. I much prefer to use a chart when knitting lace (or cables, for that matter). It's much easier for me to see how the knitting is supposed to line up. Since charts are what I'm most comfortable with, that is what I used. If this is your first time knitting from a chart, congratulations! Learning to read a chart opens you up to a huge number of wonderful patterns that only use charts.
Feel free to write out your own instructions for the lace section if that would make you more comfortable. Just follow the chart, knowing that each square corresponds to a single stitch. But I would encourage you to take this opportunity to learn to read from the chart since this will help you learn to read your knitting, too.
If you need help reading the chart, you can find a key to the pattern symbols on the Larch pattern page on Ravelry here.
How do I repeat the chart? What happens to all of the extra stitches?
The short answer is just trust the pattern and start knitting. I promise that it works.
Here's the longer answer:
Those extra stitches are what let you repeat the lace chart. If you count them up, you'll see that the chart adds 12 stitches on either side of the boxed pattern repeat. Since the pattern repeat is 12 stitches wide, what you are doing over the course of the chart is adding one additional repeat on either side of the boxed section. So if you started with 8 pattern repeats the first time you worked the chart, you'll work the chart with 10 pattern repeats the second time around. Because it takes 24 pattern rows to add in those extra stitches, you don't see the full new repeats of the lace until row 3 of the second iteration of the chart (the lace row).
Another way to think of this is to remember how you added half of a repeat of the lace pattern on either side of the boxed section after 12 pattern rows. Once you work another 12 pattern rows (i.e., you've finished the chart), it's time to add another half repeat. This brings you to one full pattern repeat added, with no extra stitches on either side. And that's right where you start at the beginning of the chart.