I think I generally prefer charts to written-out directions. Charts show me a visual representation of what my end result should roughly look like. They also illustrate the relationship between rows, which I find very important to visualizing what I am doing. I have not yet had a need to use a row counter on socks, because I prefer to evaluate positional patterning when I pick up my knitting.
I actually find many large, written-out directions nerve-wracking. For instance, something like:
makes me count and double count each row to make sure I've placed it correctly. It would be much easier if I could look at a chart, figure out what I did on the previous row, and use that knowledge to place the current row's stitches. Directions make me feel like I'm constantly fumbling in the dark for the light switch but can't find it. Granted, I probably feel this way because I knit socks, which have often small patterns that repeat a whole bunch of times, and the pattern shifts are usually slight.
All of the patterns I've bought from Fiber Trends (okay... all 2 of them) are directions only, and, frankly it drives me bonkers. This is probably the main reason I have yet to finish my cabled and bobbled hat, something that could easily be put into a chart. The llama I also found annoying for this same reason, but I think something weird like that would be difficult to chart. Plus, you end up with a llama, so that makes it worth it!
Anyone want to share in their frustration or beg to differ?