If you prefer words to wonky diagrams, you may feel all sorts of confused by knitting charts. But here’s the truth: once you get the hang of reading these graphic versions of knitting instructions, it’s actually easier to follow than traditional written ones. These tips will help you decipher any knitting chart you see, no sweat.
1. Know Where to Start
Think of a knitting chart as a visual representation of your project shown from the front side. Each square represents one stitch. Charts are typically read from the bottom up, and the row/round numbers on the side will tell you exactly where to begin. (Usually, it’s in the lower right hand corner.)
2. Grab Your Stitch Counter
Reset your stitch counter so its numbers correspond with the numbers on the chart. If you need to keep track of repeats or alternate row/round numbers, use a separate sheet of paper or download a stitch counter app that allows you to keep tabs on multiple counts.
3. Go in the Right Direction
The direction you work the chart will depend on whether your knitting is flat or if you’re knitting in the round. If a chart is knit flat, there are numbers on both sides and right side rows are every other row. That means you should read right side rows right to left, and wrong side rows left to right.
If the numbers are only on one side, it’s likely knit in the round. Every row on the chart is a right side row, which means you’ll read right to left.
4. Look for Missing Rows
Some charts include only right side rows. If the row numbers are not consecutive — maybe you only see rows 1, 3, 5 and 7 — it could be because you’re just purling all the wrong side rows. Check the pattern instructions for more information before you begin knitting the chart.
5. Know the Signs
Most charts use standard symbols; once you know them, you’ll be able to whiz through pretty much any chart. The symbols are usually intuitive, like a circle for a yarn over (which causes intentional holes in the fabric) and left- or right-leaning slanted lines for decreases (which cause the stitches to lean to the left or right in the knitting). Always check the chart key (like the one above) before you start.
6. Check for Repeats
If your chart is only eight stitches wide but your round is 64 stitches, don’t freak out. The chart is probably asking you to work repeats. Repeats are typically indicated by two bold lines that mark the section of the chart you should repeat. You may also see some text below the chart that says something like “8-stitch repeat.”
Once you’ve worked those eight stitches of the chart, you’ll go back and do them again. The pattern’s instructions will tell you how many times to repeat.
7. Mark Your Place
To make a chart easier to read, place a piece of washi tape or a sticky note just above the row/round you’re working on. As you work through the chart, move the marker along with you. Pro tip: Placing the marker above the row you’re on allows you to see what you’ve already done (just like in your actual knitting).
I am working a chart with the stitch numbers written at the bottom number 1 to 20. The round number is on the right from number 1 to 15. I am using circular needles and working the chart from the bottom right to the left then onto round 2 working right to left. There are 120 stitches on the circular needles as I start the chart. The chart is a snowflake pattern but it doesn`t look like a snowflake when I finish. I am doing fair isle knitting with four colours. I understand how to work the four colours into the chart. I am knitting using the four colours but I must be misinterpreting the chart somehow, butI`m not sure what I am doing wrong? Any suggestions…
Without a photo it’s hard to know exactly what the issue is, but based on the description, I think it could be the gauge/tension. If your stitch and row gauge differ from the pattern the chart appears in, the proportions of the snowflake could be distorted. This could also be helped in the blocking stage, but that is no guarantee. Check your gauge against the pattern and see how different that is, and additionally double check that you still have the same number of stitches on you needles as you go along, as that could knock the chart pattern out of whack if there are accidentally added or lost stitches.
Hope this helps!
I’m starting to knit a chart or diagram would help a lot.
I have a chart for a piece knitted flat. The “1” is on the left side of the chart, 2 on the right side; so am I correct in that I will start with a ‘wrong side’ row, and the even numbers will be the ‘right’ side?
Do you read the chart from top to bottom if you are knitting a sweater from top to bottom on circular needles or the usual way bottom to top thank you jacqueline
I am working on a pattern that calls for steeking ( so clearly knit in the round) but I did notice the chart was written as if for flat knitting, assuming it was an editorial error. Then I noticed the starting stitch counts for each size are not able to be divided by the stitch repeat count of 34 in the chart. Am I missing something? I am not a total newbie to working charts, so I am stumped.
How do you work four stitches missing at the beginning of a row on a knitting chart. The previous row had four stitches at the end of the row where the next one starts back in the other directipn.
I’m knitting a table runner with a chart. It’s straight knitting, not in the round. All consecutive numbers are on the right side of the chart. No numbers are skipped. Does this mean that you start each row from the right side of the chart?
Please excuse my ignorance if the answer is obvious, but how do I tell the multiple on a fair isle chart? Thank you in advance
Right side rows, read from right to left. Wrong side rows, read from left to right.