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How to read a knitting chart

June 6, 2014

Charts are graphic representations of knitting instructions.  They are a compact way to illustrate more patterns that would take much more space if described in text instructions.

Charts also illustrate how a lace, colourwork or cable pattern will look once it is knit up, and this means that when you use charts, it is easier to see where you are in a pattern, and identify errors early.

After a bit of practice, most knitters find working from charts much more intuitive, quick, and simple than working from line-by-line text instructions.

Botany Shawl by TIn Can Knits

Chart motif from the Botany Shawl … this is an extreme case where writing out line-by-line instructions for this large-scale motif would be entirely impractical.

Each square is a stitch ::: start with the key

In a chart, each square represents a knitting stitch, similar to the way that each abbreviation in text instructions does (for example k2tog or p1).  The first thing you should check when you start knitting from a chart is the key or legend, and chart notes if they are included.  This will explain which symbols represent which kind of stitches.    Often, an empty square means to knit the stitch, and generally, a yarn-over will be represented by an O in the square. However, each designer may have a different format and set of symbols.  Once you understand the meaning of each of the symbols, you can proceed to knitting the chart.

Chart Key

The key (and chart) for our free beginner lace pattern, the Gothic Lace Cowl or Scarf… check it out!

Are all rows shown… or just the RS rows?

Charts will either show all rows (or rounds) or only illustrate one side of the work, usually the right side.  If the chart shows only right side rows, text instructions will be given for how to work the wrong side rows.  The omission of wrong-side rows is common in lace charts, because many lace patterns are simply purled on wrong-side rows.  As you can see from this illustration, the structure of the lace pattern shows up much more clearly when the wrong-side rows (which aren’t conveying much information) are removed.

Reading Knitting Charts

The Gothic Lace pattern shown two ways – with all rows shown, and with WS rows omitted. As you can see, the chart is more compact and relates more clearly to the structure of the knitted fabric when WS rows are omitted. Check out the free pattern here!

But how do I actually knit following a chart?

Once you’ve reviewed the key and chart notes, and determined whether all rows are shown, or just the right-side rows, you can get started knitting from the chart.

Typically, for right side rows, you will work the stitches one at a time from RIGHT to LEFT.

So where only right side rows are shown, this means that you read each row shown in the chart from RIGHT to LEFT.  To work the wrong side rows, follow the instructions given in the text or chart notes.

Reading Knitting Charts

If the chart shows BOTH right side and wrong side rows, you will work the RS rows from RIGHT to LEFT, and the WS rows from LEFT to RIGHT.

If you think of the chart as a picture of the finished fabric taken from the right side of the work, this makes sense, as the RS rows are worked one stitch at a time from right to left, and the WS rows are worked from right to left too… but on the opposite side.

A careful reading of the chart key is crucial in this case, because often chart symbols are worked in one way on the right side of the work, and in another way on the wrong side of the work (for example, knit on the right side, purl on the wrong side).

Reading Knitting Charts

What are the heavy lines?

Commonly, stitch and row repeats are indicated by heavy lines (or boxes) in the chart.  This is similar to the use of brackets in text knitting instructions.  So you would work the edge stitches one time, then work the ‘repeat’ stitches as many times as possible (always reading the set of instructions from right to left on right side rows), before ending with the edge stitches at the end of row.

Knitting Chart Repeats

Our free beginner lace pattern Gothic Lace has a pattern repeat that is 8 stitches wide, and 12 rows tall.

What do I do when I get to the end of the chart?

After you’ve worked the last (top) row of a chart, you would typically begin again at the bottom at row or round 1, if the stitch pattern is repeated several times.  The text pattern instructions will let you know how many rows / inches to work following the chart.

How to Read a Lace Chart

Lace patterns are often described only in charts, as they may have large stitch and row repeats can make writing out (and reading) lace patterns quite cumbersome.

At Tin Can Knits, 90% of our lace patterns use charts that only illustrate the RS of the work, because we find these types of patterns much more intuitive, simple and satisfying to knit.

How to Read a Lace Chart

The lace chart for the Sunflower Shawl shows RS rows only. You can see clearly how the chart motif corresponds to the knitted fabric.  You read the RS rows from right to left, and follow text instructions for the WS rows.

Of course, there are always exceptions to this rule, and when both sides of the work are charted, you will work the RS rows from right to left, and the WS rows from left to right, making sure to check the key so you understand how stitches are worked on the RS vs the WS of the work.

How to Read a Lace Chart

The lace chart for the Kits Kerchief includes both right side and wrong side rows, because they are required to work the lace motif.  You read RS rows from right to left, and WS rows from left to right.

How to read a Colourwork Chart

Fair-isle stranded colourwork is usually worked in the round, so that the RS of the work is always facing, you are working the knit stitch most of the time, and you can easily see the pattern forming as you work it.  However, there are some exceptions to the rule in which colourwork is worked flat (in rows).  Either way, charts for colourwork patterns will generally illustrate every round (or row).

If the pattern is to be worked in the round, then you will read every round from right to left.

How to Read a Colourwork Chart

Our free ornament pattern – Fancy Balls – includes three simple colourwork motifs, knit in the round. As you can see, all rounds are shown on the chart.

 If the pattern is to be worked flat, then you will read the right-side rows from right to left, and the wrong-side rows from left to right (in the opposite direction); in order for the pattern to form as designed.

How to Read a Colourwork Chart

The Goldfish cardigan is knit in rows. You read the RS chart rows from right to left, and the WS chart rows from left to right.  Because the fabric is stockinette stitch, you will knit all stitches on RS rows, and purl all stitches on WS rows, using the colour indicated.

As fair-isle colourwork is typically stockinette stitch (knitting all sts on the RS, purling all sts on the WS), the chart key will typically describe which colours to work each stitch with, rather than the kind of stitch to work.  So when you see a square that corresponds to CC1, you will knit one stitch with contrast colour #1.

How to Read a Colourwork Chart

The chart for the North Shore pullover includes several contrast colours, as shown in the key. You will knit all stitches in the colour indicated, unless the stitch is a decrease… as shown by the symbols for k2tog and ssk in rounds 19 and 21.

How to read a Cable Chart

Cable charts may either show every row or round, or show only right side rows, with instructions for ‘keeping in pattern’ given for the WS rows (typically you would knit the knits, and purl the purls).

One special feature of cable charts are the symbols for cable turns.  Cables are worked over more than one stitch, so the symbols for cable turns are more than one stitch wide.  As you can see from the antler cable below, c4b and c4f – cable 4 back and front – are worked over 4 stitches.  Be sure to review the chart key before you cast on!

How to Read a Cable Chart

This cute free hat pattern – Antler Hat – is knit in the round, following a chart which illustrates all rounds. Each round is read from right to left.

Know somebody who’s struggling with charts?

We’ve created this tutorial for you and your friends!  Help us continue to provide these great resources by sharing with your friends, and joining the chat on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Ravelry!

Tin Can Knits on FacebookTin Can Knits on Instagram Tin Can Knits on Twitter Tin Can Knits on Pinterest Tin Can Knits Email Updates Tin Can Knits on Ravelry

Do you have a specific question or concern about reading charts?  Let us know in the comments, and we will do our best to point you in the right direction.

Charted Delicacies from Tin Can Knits:


North Shore PulloverBotany ShawlSnowflake Pullover

148 Comments leave one →
  1. September 9, 2016 1:08 pm

    I am working on a Capelet pattern and the chart shows 2 blanks at the beginning of a row. Do I slip those 2 sts. To right needle and begin pattern row on 3rd stitch?

    • September 9, 2016 1:12 pm

      Hi Judith – it sounds like those are maybe non-stitches? You would just skip over them and go to the first instruction, no need to move any stitches around.

  2. Nancy Timm permalink
    August 31, 2016 10:40 am

    I am working a lace chart that has blank boxes in the chart. The knits are indicated with a line. If I count all the boxes in the chart row that have a symbol in them, it equals 33, which is the number of stitches on my needled. So does that mean the blank boxes are “skipped” and I just move to the next symbol to work on the next stitch on my needle?

    Also, following that logic, I got close to the end of my row where it indicated I would have 7 more knit stitches to do, but I only had two more stitches on my needle. I’m guessing it has something to do with the symbol that is keyed to “sl1, k2tog, psso”. So I slipped the next stitch on the left needle to the right, then knit the next two left needle stitches together, then slipped the 2nd stitch on the right needle over the first stitch on the right needle.

    Help!
    Nancy

    • August 31, 2016 12:02 pm

      Hi Nancy – I would assume they are ‘no stitch’ boxes but it is hard to tell without seeing the actual pattern. You are working the sk2psso stitch correctly. Is there a key for the chart? Perhaps the designer could offer more of an insight?

      • Nancy Timm permalink
        August 31, 2016 12:46 pm

        The key for the chart doesn’t indicate any information on the blank boxes so yes, I’m assuming they are “no stitch” boxes. Thanks for the advise

      • Nancy Timm permalink
        August 31, 2016 8:23 pm

        I think I figured it out… I wasn’t doing the yo right. Your clue of treating each square with a symbol on the chart as an “action” vs. A “stitch” made me realize I was doing a yo then a knit for each yo symbol. That Used up extra stitches causing me to run out at the end of the row.

  3. August 28, 2016 1:34 pm

    Hi. This is very helpful. My question concerns the needle requirement. I have a lace pattern for a shawl (supposed to be moderately easy but I’m not finding it that!) with multiple charts but always with differences between right-side rows and wrong-side rows. Yet the pattern calls for a round needle. I don’t understand why. Wouldn’t straight needles make more sense since one is turning at the end of every row? I see no place in the pattern where the rows are joined. Thanks much!!

    • August 30, 2016 9:51 am

      Hi Janet – you could probably use a straight needle but I too would recommend using a circular, even though you are not working in the round. The reason is that shawls tend to get to a large number of stitches and a circular needle will hold all of those stitches with no trouble. The other reason is that when working back and forth on straights with a lot of stitches it can sometimes cause your tension to change near the ends of the rows. The needle gets a little heavier, changing the tension on the stitches. A circular needle holds the stitches between the needles, evening out the distribution.
      Sorry for the novel!! Lols

  4. desre franco permalink
    July 30, 2016 11:31 am

    The chart shown for a stitch/pattern called Triangle rib on the Freeknittingpatterns.com does not show even rows/ws rows and there is no instructions for ws rows in the key except for this: “l – knitwise in odd rows, purlwise in even rows; – = purlwise in odd rows, knitwise in even rows. How do I knit the even rows? Purl only or knit only or as a reversed “copy” of the previous row? It’s very confusing when the key doesn’t give clear instructions for ws rows. Please help. Tx.

    • August 1, 2016 9:59 am

      Hi Desre – I’m sorry, I have no idea. It should indicate how to work the WS rows in the pattern….

  5. Zuzana permalink
    July 13, 2016 3:36 am

    Hello! Just wanted to make sure I understand it correctly:
    -right-handed knitters are following charts from right-to-left, bottom-to top (starting at the right down corner of the chart);
    -left-handed knitters are following charts from left-to-right, bottom-to-top (starting at the left down corner of the chart).
    Am I right?

    • July 13, 2016 10:58 pm

      I’m not sure what you mean by left handed knitters? Knitting is a 2 handed thing…..

      • Zuzana permalink
        July 14, 2016 4:04 am

        Well, I meant if you are a left-handed person (you write using left hand) and knitting in opposite direction to right-handed person (I know that even left-handed person can knit the same way as the right-handed person, but that’s not what I’ve learnt). I have my piece on the needle in right hand, while knitting with my needle in left hand.

      • July 27, 2016 12:16 pm

        Hi Zuzana – It depends if you are working any of the stitches backwards (eg, your purls are knits and your knits are purls) and if you are working in the round. Because left handed and right handed knitters usually knit the same way (sometimes varying the way they hold the yarn, things like that) knitting patterns and charts are always (as far as I know) written for the one way (knitting moving from right to left). I’m not sure what advice to give without knowing EXACTLY how you are knitting.

    • Stephanie permalink
      July 25, 2016 1:15 pm

      No. The charts are followed as the instructions above indicate. There’s no such thing as right or left-handed chart following. Knitting is a 2 handed fiber art. Unlike crochet, which uses only one hand to manipulate one live stitch; knitting used the right and left hand to manipulate a multitude of live stitches. In fact, the only “right” or “left” handed distinction is exclusively pertaining to how you feed your yarn. Every knit pattern is followed the exact same way by a righty or a lefty. However, a left handed person may prefer continental knitting and a right handed person may prefer throwing. That is not a hard and fast rule, it’s just an option. Stitches to be knit are on the left needle and stitches that have already been knit are on the right.

      I’m not sure how you can believe there is any different rules for a right v. left handed knitter.

      Good luck, though!!

      • JoEl permalink
        August 5, 2016 12:00 pm

        Yes there are different rules to follow if you knit left handed. I am left handed. I make my stitches using the needle in my left hand, the working yarn is held in my right hand. I read a chart from left to right. Directional decreases are made the opposite way that a right handed would make the. Zuzana – Ravelry has several groups for lefties that can answer your lefty questions.

  6. debbie permalink
    July 11, 2016 1:30 am

    When knitting from a chart and following a pattern that has for example 58 stitches and in the chart only 28 of these stitches are needed to form the motive, what do i do with the remaining 30 stitches. So confused. Please assist me.

    • July 12, 2016 11:44 am

      Hi Debbie – I’m sorry, I’m not much help without actually seeing the pattern. The extra 30 stitches could be edge stitches?

  7. pjd permalink
    July 3, 2016 4:07 pm

    How would you count the stitches in a chart to find the multiple number of stitches for the repeat, or to increase the size?? Thank you

    • July 3, 2016 8:45 pm

      Usually the repeat will be indicated in some way (in a TCK pattern it will have thick black lines around it), otherwise I recommend either a swatch, or taking graph paper and graphing out the pattern, with any repeats, to start to see where they are.

  8. Teresa Ukrainetz permalink
    June 16, 2016 6:48 pm

    I am struggling with Ann Budd & Anne Hanson’s Top-Down India Print Henley. I have worked through many issues before even getting going, and, from the conversations on Ravelry, expect many more. However, I can’t find an answer to this seemingly simple qn about the “bracket” indicated on the Eyelet Lace chart.

    This is just the third row of the neck after CO, knit and purl rows and I am stuck. What does it mean to “work Row 1 of Left front eyelet lace chart over 2 sts indicated by BRACKET for your size.” The bracket shows YO and K for the size I am doing (30″) and 2K for the next size up (36″). That means my neck stitches will double in size while the next size up retains its number of stitches. That makes no sense.

    Any help will be much appreciated.
    Teresa

    • June 17, 2016 10:58 am

      Hi Teresa – if the next size up is yo, k2 then it will be increasing as well, just not at the same rate. Have you tried contacting the designer? They are usually quite helpful and know their patterns inside and out.

  9. Rhonda permalink
    June 12, 2016 5:24 am

    Thank God I found this blog. I am currently following a pattern that has two charts. It states to start with chart 1 then follow same row on chart two, starting on the right side. On the next row do I start from the left side of the chart on both charts? I have thus pulled this portion out a few times as it does not look right, though I am not sure how it is supposed to look. Help??

    • June 13, 2016 12:40 pm

      You would start from the left side of chart 2, work left to right, then start on the left side of chart 1 left to right

  10. Vak permalink
    June 11, 2016 3:55 pm

    I am knitting the rosebud shawl and I don’t know what to do on the first row of chart b where it says “A” and then “B”. Hope you can help

  11. Sally permalink
    May 14, 2016 9:48 am

    I a left handed; I knit with my left hand, taking stitches off my right needle to my left needle. Can I just follow the chart as written?

    • May 15, 2016 3:30 am

      Nope, you would have to reverse it. When I teach left handers to knit I usually have them knit the same way, just holding the yarn in their left hand (knitting is a 2 handed process, like playing the piano), that way patterns and charts etc. still work the same.

  12. Julia permalink
    May 7, 2016 2:49 pm

    I am knitting a blanket in intarsia with a college logo. The chart I have is numbered from the top down and left to right rather than starting at the bottom right. Does it matter where I start for a blanket? Should I still start at the bottom right knitting right to left and purling left to right on the even rows?

    • May 9, 2016 9:34 am

      Hmm, without looking at the pattern I’m not 100% sure. Usually you would want to start at the bottom right and go right to left. You may want to contact the designer?

  13. May 6, 2016 9:20 am

    Hello! I’m knitting a hat, but I don’t really understand how decreases work in charts. Could you please help? I’ve left the link in my username to the hat I’m making. Thanks so much!

    • May 6, 2016 9:52 am

      Hi Lizzy – I think it is hard to see them but there are slashes in the edge colored stitches indicating ssk and k2tog. So ignore the white boxes and work an ssk for the first charted stitch and a k2tog for the last charted stitch

  14. Viv permalink
    May 5, 2016 3:06 pm

    I have done some chart reading, but recently I’ve come across something I’ve never seen before. I’m knitting a circular shawl that has several charts. One chart has a check mark roughly in the middle. The check mark isn’t anywhere in the symbol list, and none of the other charts have it. The pattern notes say nothing about it. It’s also weird because that part of the chart has repeat lines, so even if it was marking the center (for reasons I don’t know) it wouldn’t really be the center because it’s repeated. I’m really confused about this one. Please help!

    • May 6, 2016 9:15 am

      Sorry Viv, I really don’t have any idea what that one is…maybe try contacting the designer? If there is a symbol it SHOULD be in the notes or symbol list…

  15. April 25, 2016 7:00 pm

    Hi- I am knitted a 29 row pattern from chart on dpn in the round.
    Each row increases stitches.
    It says to repeat chart 6 times.
    Do I start back at row 1 ?

    • April 26, 2016 9:30 am

      Hi Sheila – yep, unless otherwise specified you would start back at row 1. There is most likely a pattern repeat that will be worked more times on subsequent repeats of the chart.

  16. Mary Lentini permalink
    March 24, 2016 6:09 am

    I am working on the glass utterly hat by Kate gagnon Osborn in the book Weekend Hats. The chart has dark gray square (not to be confused with the light gray “no stitch” square. ) and I can’touch find a reference for it in the legend or in the book. Can you tell me what this means?

    • March 29, 2016 12:19 am

      Hi Mary – sorry, I have no idea, charts are pretty dependent on the key for instructions like that, since each designer might be using the symbol differently. You might want to try contacting Kate directly to ask, she is lovely

  17. March 21, 2016 4:52 pm

    My pattern asks that I knit 1 below. Does that mean that I also knit the purl stitches that appear 1 row below? Or do I purl the purl stitches?

  18. March 21, 2016 4:46 pm

    If a chart of 20 stitches asks that I purl 2 stitches together, twice, on the return row (row 2), do I have 18 stitches and adjust the chart accordingly?

    • March 22, 2016 9:53 am

      Hi Velma – if there are no increases to compensate then your chart should be decreasing.

  19. ellen rudoff permalink
    March 8, 2016 7:55 am

    Love this resource. I am knitting a faire isle yoke on a top-down sweater (Iðunn
    by Ragga Eiríksdóttir), that is knit in the round. The chart box for the pattern is a 28-stitch repeat by 37 rows. Because the pattern increases over the 37 rows, it starts with a 13-stitch repeat, and ends with full 28-stitch repeat. (Ragga uses black boxes to indicate “no stitch”). I’m concerned that the initial 13-stitch repeat, does not divide evenly into the stitch count indicated for my size (118). After the increases, I end up with 308 stitches (which can be divided by the final 28 stitch row). My question is, do I just knit the pattern for the rows as indicated on the chart (even if there are rows that end up with partial repeat)? Thanks so much. Ellen

    • March 9, 2016 2:50 pm

      Hi Ellen – I think something must be wrong if the stitch count doesn’t work. It should go evenly (i think, not having the pattern in front of me). I might check for errata?

  20. Rosie permalink
    March 5, 2016 12:45 pm

    I am a very new newbie to reading chart. I thank you for your tutorial here on charts . My question is on the pattern I am working it is in both written and chart and on the chart I’ve come to ‘Work even in pattern as established until piece measures 18 in . The chart shows rows 1-18 and I am currently on chart row 2 and now must work even ? does that mean work the chart up to row 18 and if it doesn’t measure the 18 inches by then do I go back down to row 3 and work my way up the chart until the piece measures it’s 18 inches ?

    • March 9, 2016 2:54 pm

      Hi Rosie – your pattern should have instructions on the issue. The chart may have a row repeat to work from (eg. work rows 3-18 to form pattern), and you would continue working the chart as set.

  21. March 5, 2016 10:14 am

    Hello!
    I am looking for some help with a fair isle chart. This chart identifies different starting points depending on the size you’re knitting. The repeat is over 16 stitches. I am having difficulty understanding how to complete the repeat with a different starting point. Any help/guidance would be appreciated.

    • March 9, 2016 2:55 pm

      Hi – you will usually have a particular starting point, and the repeat should occur after that. You will have some stitches outside the repeat, then work the entire repeat, then work the end stitches outside of the repeat. Does that help?

  22. Sandra permalink
    February 15, 2016 7:10 am

    By the time you have worked out what kind of chart it is, gone on Ravelry to ask why it makes no sense, tried to fathom out all the missing bits and why they are missing and wondered why some knitters are so phobic about using words, you could have finished the thing.

    For instance my very simple chart includes wrong rows but some don’t (but hey some do). Then it is meant to be a circular chart but the wrong side rows are showing as flat. But I know what they mean don’t I? Or perhaps not. Charts are hideous things requiring a whole lot of time spent writing them out first. When I have paid for a pattern that says it includes written instructions (when they mean a couple of words which obviously pained them to use as they are so sparingly used) but does not include any full instructions for the item to be knitted but rather a horrible chart, it is misleading and very very annoying.

    Yes, some of us REALLY do hate charts, and yes we can do them if we really really really try (but why should we, when we hate them so, we like to enjoy our knitting) and if we are prepared to spend hours on them (I’m not). No we don’t find it fun, we don’t want to be challenged we just want to knit the think we want to knit. Just like lovers of charts frequently hate words which need to be prised from them and is the reason why patterns are difficult. Patterns are not difficult, the lack of skill in sharing the information on what to do is responsible. Difference is, chart lovers need to make no excuses for their preferences. Yet we are treated as simpletons by others who are convinced that charts are so easy (despite the fact that we don’t all share the opinion) when we share ours and are frequently ridiculed, derided and made fun of on places like ravelry.

    And then every chart is different!!!! With its own rules that we are left clueless about, and then we have to go off into internet land to try and find out the meaning of stuff which is frequently left unresolved because no one knows! But it’s easy because it’s a communal language!!!!

  23. Melonie permalink
    February 7, 2016 12:41 pm

    I am starting a chart with a design across 16 stitches. The very first stitch says it is blank, no stitch and the next two stitches are knit. What do I do with the first stitch, slip it or is the first stitch actually the knit stitch? Thank you!
    Melonie

    • February 8, 2016 8:49 pm

      Hi Melonie – no stitch means just that, it’s not a charted stitch, just a blank box, usually inserted for clarity. You will be knitting the first 2 sts.

  24. January 24, 2016 3:38 pm

    This is an awesome resource and I hope you never delete this page!

  25. January 15, 2016 8:29 am

    Finally! What a helpful site. Thank you so much. Your instructions clarified issues I’ve been dealing with.

  26. January 12, 2016 9:33 pm

    I would like to knit the pattern on this link,
    http://freeknitstitches.com/pattern.php?num=139&menu=5,
    but no instructions are given for the even (wrong side) rows.
    The pattern does not seem to me that all wrong side rows are purled.
    Most of the patterns on this website (freeknitstitches.com) seem to omit the even rows, but I can find no instructions on the site about what they intend them to be.

    • January 13, 2016 10:31 am

      Hi Shirleen – I’m not really sure. It seems like they are missing an instruction

      • January 23, 2016 7:57 am

        Figured it out – it’s slip-stitch or mosaic knitting where the even rows are identical to the odd rows, just knit from the left. (All worked stitches are worked, all slipped stitches are slipped again).

  27. Elaine permalink
    January 10, 2016 2:18 pm

    Hello,
    I’m knitting a vest pattern with a right side cable chart and a left side cable chart, pattern is by Bristol Ivy, and the name is Delius. I’m shaping the armholes working on the front of the vest back and forth. Great that the charts show working in rounds as well as working flat. I’m now on the wrong side and don’t know if that would be the left or right cable chart. I worked the right side starting with the Right cable chart.
    Thank you in advance, Elaine

    • January 12, 2016 12:54 pm

      Hi Elaine – if I had to guess I would say the right cable chart. Might be best to contact Bristol for the definitive answer though

  28. Amy permalink
    January 9, 2016 1:13 pm

    Hello.
    Would “Slip as if to knit” be shown on a chart? And if so, how would it look?
    Thank you.

    • January 9, 2016 9:05 pm

      Hi Amy- I’m not sure what the symbol would be, but it would probably be in the chart notes if it were…

  29. Susan White permalink
    January 7, 2016 7:42 am

    I’m knitting a patterned cardigan “shrug” with a japanese pattern. I’ve read various “how to read Japanese knitting charts” but I still cannot tell if my pattern’s “pattern stitch” chart is showing ALL rows or just RS rows. How do I know for sure?

  30. Dawn MacWhinnie permalink
    December 12, 2015 1:43 pm

    I have a question. I have this horse hat knitting pattern. On the chart it shows the knitting square as being half it size (width) and the x represents the cc, but is placed on the right side of the skinny box. Help??!!?

    • December 13, 2015 11:58 pm

      Hi Dawn – I can’t really help without seeing the pattern. I don’t know what the skinny box is etc. Is there a key to the chart? Maybe try contacting the designer?

  31. Kathy permalink
    December 10, 2015 2:16 pm

    I’m confused about the written instructions for this chart
    https://tincanknits.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/blog-chart-reading-04.jpg?w=600&h=386
    The pattern repeat for row 1 says [ssk, k1, yo, k1, yo, k2tog, k1], but isn’t that only 7 stitches? It seems to me that there’s a k1 missing before the k2tog. Or does the k2tog symbol mean it applies to the empty square on the chart as well?
    Thanks.

    • December 11, 2015 9:31 am

      You are correct Kathy, there should be another k1. Thanks! We will get that all fixed up.

  32. Laura permalink
    November 8, 2015 4:54 pm

    I have a pattern that has a chart and the instructions says to do 5 repeats of the chart. Does that mean I do the chart 5 times or 6 (the first one and then 5 repeats) .

    • November 11, 2015 3:09 am

      I’m not sure, is it a Tin Can Knits pattern? If so, let me know which one and I’ll investigate further. Every designer uses different pattern writing language / style and conventions, so it depends. I’d guess it’s a total of 5 repeats, if that’s what it says, but if it’s described the first repeat, THEN says ‘repeat the chart 5 times’, it’s more ambiguous. Go with your gut and if it makes the mittens / hat / sweater long enough, then you’re golden.

  33. November 8, 2015 2:15 pm

    Hello
    When it says maker on the chart. Does that mean I place the marker and knit the stitch or the square is just place the marker and do what it says for the next stitch it shows for the next stitch????

    • November 11, 2015 3:10 am

      Every designer’s pattern writing and charting conventions are different, so I can’t say for sure. Have you checked the chart key and any chart notes or notes in the written pattern about this?

  34. Sue permalink
    October 30, 2015 2:19 pm

    Hi, hope you can help me out, trying to knit the Top Down Raglan Summer Lace Cardigan & am having a dickens of a time trying to figure it out. It has a written pattern up to the 8th row but from 9 on is a chart which makes no sense to me. It does show the repetitive pattern of lace which I can see but that’s about it. The chart starts at the raglan stitch & goes from there, I have written out what it shows for 1st row and it doesn’t show the 2nd or 3rd raglan stitches like the written pattern does. I have gone on you tube & looked at how to read charts but to no avail. Even trying to write out the pattern it doesn’t tell me where the front, raglan, sleeve, raglan, back, raglan, sleeve, raglan, front breaks are. Also there is knitting, yo, ssk’s, k2tog’s before the 1st & after the last raglan stitches (which is the front). I have knit numerous Leisure Arts raglans and never had any problems. I have also knitted a lace scarf, so I have some experience. Thanks for listening.

    • October 30, 2015 2:38 pm

      Hi Sue – it is hard for me to say what is going wrong without looking at the pattern (the Top Down Raglan Summer Lace Cardigan isn’t one of ours), have you tried contacting the designer?

  35. Daniele permalink
    October 12, 2015 3:07 pm

    HI, I have a chart where the bottom row is labeled number 1 on the left rather than the right. Does that mean the first row is the wrong side and I read it left to right? Rather than reading the first row right to left? Thank you very much for your help.

    • October 13, 2015 2:51 pm

      I would say probably, that is what it would usually indicate. It should be in the chart notes where to start too!

  36. September 28, 2015 7:30 pm

    I am working on red hearts Butterfly Cable Blanket LW3884 and cannot figure how to go about inserting the Leaf chart into the Leaves and Berries chart.

    • September 29, 2015 6:14 am

      Hi Carol – I’m not familiar with that pattern, but my suggestions would be to ask at your local yarn shop, and if they can’t help, then contact the pattern designer directly with your question.

  37. Knit one permalink
    September 25, 2015 8:39 am

    I’m knitting lace hat in the round using a chart. The shaded grey means do nothing with that stitch. But something has to be done. I can’t drop it. Do I just slip it to right needle. I don’t know what to do. Please help. Thanks

    • September 29, 2015 6:18 am

      The shaded grey stitches have likely been used in the chart to compensate for changing stitch counts in the pattern from round to round. So it’s not that you skip stitches, it’s simply that you’ll skip over that square in the chart, and go on to the instruction shown on the next square, and use that instruction to work the next stitch that you have on your needles. Hope this helps!

  38. Jade permalink
    August 31, 2015 7:35 am

    This tutorial is heaven sent! Thank you so much! I’ve only read lace charts that had RS rows and just started one which had both RS and WS rows on the chart Now know that I should’ve been reading the WS row from left to right. Have had to frog my work twice halfway through. Hopefully it’ll turn out right this time.

  39. Abby permalink
    August 27, 2015 8:49 am

    Hey guys,

    So I just started the Prairie Fire pullover and I have gotten to the lace chart. I can follow charts fairly well, but I am a little confused with this piece of the pattern. I am on round 3 of the lace chart and the pattern says to “knit to the chart and knit next chart round”. My confusion comes from not seeing how many knit stitches there are before I begin the lace chart.

    In round 1 of front of pullover it was KNIT 20, ROUND 1 OF LACE CHART, KNIT 20

    For round 3, there are two increase sts at either end of the front section, so would I still be knitting 20 sts before I get the lace chart? Am I supposed to include the increases in the stitch count?

    I hope I explained my confusion in a way that makes sense. Any help would be super appreciated! :) thank you so so much!

    • August 28, 2015 10:54 pm

      Hi Abby – the chart is increasing while the stockinette around it is decreasing. So for the next round you are knitting to 1 stitch before the k2tog of the last charted round (or 2 stitches before that if you are working round 19). You could place a marker around the chart, but you would constantly be moving it to account for the increases.

  40. claire permalink
    August 23, 2015 4:04 am

    HI, I’m trying to knit snowflake and am doing lace knitting for the first time. I’m very sure I’ve got my markers in the right place and i am reading right to left but somehow the number of stitches doesn’t seem to match up. For example for chart A i have 5 stitches until the centreline stitch and i have to k1, yo,[ k1, k2tog, yo,] k1 which by my calculation will use 7 stitches. What am i doing wrong? I’m really confused.

    Thanks

    • August 23, 2015 2:20 pm

      Hi Claire – I think it’s just your calculations that are off. You don’t need a stitch to make a YO so you don’t need to count those. You have k1 (1 st), yo (no stitches used), k1 (1 st), k2tog (2 sts), yo (no sts used), k1 (1 st) for a total of 5 sts.

  41. Wilhelmien permalink
    August 17, 2015 6:20 am

    Hi, i brought a pattern from iceland back home, in the chart i see a cross line over 2, 3 or 5 stitches ending in a vertical line. Does this mean that i have to knit together 2, e or even 5 stitches?

    • August 18, 2015 2:15 am

      Hi Wilhelmien – every knitting chart is different, so I can’t say for certain what the symbol you are referring to means. You may be right! Is there a key which explains the different chart symbols?

  42. Michelle permalink
    August 16, 2015 12:47 am

    I am new at charts and I have finished working the rows 1-24 of chart b of the rosebud shawl for the first time and I am starting on the second time. I don’t know how to do the pattern repeats. Do I start with K3, and then the entire row 1 (including the remaining yo), then repeat the pattern repeats until I reach the end of the row, where I will knit the remaining yo and then the K3? or Do I work row one until the end of the pattern repeat, do as many pattern repeats, and then only at the end will I work the yo, and then end with the K3? I hope I’m making sense :(

    • August 18, 2015 2:25 am

      As it says in the pattern: Work the chart one time before the centreline, then a second time after the centreline (in both cases reading charts from R to L). So you’ll be working RS Rows: k3, work chart once, knit centreline st, work chart a second time, k3

      So just as you did the first time you worked chart B rows 1-24, you’ll keep the centreline in place.

      For your second (and all following) repeats of chart B… start with row 1:
      after your k3, you’ll work the chart row. There is room for 3 repeats of the pattern (the section between the vertical lines) before the centreline stitch. Then you’ll work the centreline stitch, and work the chart once more, with another 3 repeats of the pattern (the section between the vertical lines). As you’ll see in the chart notes, there are special symbols… A and B. You work them in different ways when they occur at the start (or end) of the lace panel. As it says in the key & abbreviations:

      For A: work k1 on first repeat of each time chart is worked (at start of row and just after centreline stitch) then work ssk at all other repeats
      for B: work k2tog, except on last repeat of each time chart is worked work k1 (just before centreline and at end of row)

      So in Row 1, you’ll work the FIRST A as k1, then the rest as ssk, and the LAST B as k1, with the rest as k2tog. You’ll do this for each section, before and after the centreline stitch (because they’re the same… they create 2 identical triangles of lace).

      Hope this helps!

  43. Jacqui permalink
    July 16, 2015 6:49 pm

    Hi! First time stranded knitter and I think I’ve bitten off more than I can chew!!! the pattern has 16 stitches including what they call the “centre stitch”. I needed to cast on 31 stiches. I presume I repeat the pattern once – but what do I do with the “centre stitch”? ps its knitted flat. So I’m also unsure about what I do with the centre stitch when I haveG to turn around and work purl???

    • July 20, 2015 8:56 am

      Hi Jacqui – I’m not sure how to help, because I don’t know what pattern you’re working from? I’m assuming it’s not a Tin Can Knits pattern, as the instructions don’t sound familiar. Perhaps you should contact the designer directly with your query.

  44. June 9, 2015 5:22 pm

    Charted my name ANN AND I HAVE 19 STITCHES ACROSS
    JUST TRYING TO PUT IT ON A DISHCLOTH
    I JUST CANT FIGURE OUT HOW MANY TO CAST ON
    THIS IS THE HARDEST PART FOR ME KNOW IT SOUNDS STUPID BUT THAT IS THE ONLY
    PART CANT FIGURE OUT HOW MANY TO CAST ON
    I DID NOT INCLUDE BORDER STITCHES AND I PUT 2 SPACES BETWEEN EACH LETTER
    TRIED OTHER DISHCLOTH SIMPLE DESIGN OR NAME AND ONLY THING I CANT FIGURE OUT IS HOW MANY TO CAST ON HOPE YA CAN HELP

    • June 12, 2015 3:33 pm

      Hi Pat – it depends on how big you want your dishcloth and which yarn you are using. If you want an 8″ dishcloth and you are using worsted weight yarn you will need about 36 sts. You have 19 sts in the letters of your name, you will need a few sts in between, say 3 giving you 25 total charted sts. You will want a border of 5 or 6 sts on the edge so you will cast on 35 or 37 sts.

  45. Hilda Dockrill permalink
    June 8, 2015 6:46 am

    I have a knitting diagram that has yo and knit 2tog symbol in the same block. Row before has 16 stitches. Next one if count this one block has 17 stitches. What do I do?

    • June 8, 2015 9:59 am

      Hi Hilda

      I’m not sure, is there a key for the pattern? There should be chart notes that explain such a symbol!

  46. April 30, 2015 8:04 am

    I am working on a lace shawl using a chart. The blue repeat section has me stumped. As I worked through the repeat section once, and then a few rows later, twice etc…. I found that I didn’t have enough stitches to complete the entire repeat section and then full execute the edge section as well. Is there an unwritten rule about this somewhere? Or have I messed up somewhere along the way? Once I get through the repeat, and I have the final edge stitches left, do I stop the repeat and move forward to the edge stitches? Or once I repeat this section, I should always have just the right amount of stitches to repeat it fully while also finishing the edge?

    • April 30, 2015 9:29 am

      Hi – I hate to say it but I THINK you may have made a mistake. You should always be able to repeat the section fully, then move to the edge sts. Triple check the chart key to make sure you are working your increases and decreases correctly (sometimes symbols vary from pattern to pattern). Some common mistakes I’ve come across are: dropping yarn overs on the WS row, working an SSK incorrectly, missing the psso on a double decrease

  47. Lizz Cook permalink
    March 29, 2015 5:11 am

    I have been knitting for well over 60 years and have never understood lace charts although l can follow written instructions and colour charts. In fact we made our own colour charts to knit a pattern on the back of mittens at primary school, boys included and then knitted them. I knitted a lace pattern hot water bottle as well before l left but from written instructions. Got into awful trouble for reading at the same time and making a mistake. We got thumped if we made knitting mistakes. Thank you for making it so clear.

  48. Laura Gibson permalink
    March 8, 2015 9:21 pm

    Am knitting first lace, a sweater, and it is in the round. Starts row one of chart with three sts then the repeat begins. Of course, there are increases, so now there are 11 sts outside the rpt. After 14 rows I have to repeat row one, etc. The sts are K K YO. So 2 sts into 11, I have one left over before the repeat. Should it divide evenly, or ?

    • March 9, 2015 3:28 pm

      Hi Laura – I’m afraid I’m not much help without knowing the pattern. Do you mean there are 2 knit sts and a yarn over within the repeat? That doesn’t sound right because your repeat would create a lot of increases.

  49. Debbie permalink
    March 2, 2015 11:58 am

    I’m knitting a lace pattern for the first time. I have six edge stitches then a ten stitch repeat pattern. I don’t understand how to keep the ten stitch pattern correct when I need twelve stitches to complete all the increases and decreases. Am I missing something here?.

    • March 2, 2015 6:45 pm

      Hi Debbie -maybe, it’s hard to say without looking at the pattern. Is it possibly that the number of sts changes? It’s also important to remember that decreases take 2 or more sts to work, but only appear as 1 symbol, and yarn overs take no sts to make but also appear as 1 symbol. Perhaps the pattern uses different symbols than us?

  50. Faye permalink
    February 26, 2015 12:36 pm

    Hello,
    I have a really stupid question… Is the first row of my chart the cast on row and how do I know if the next row is a knot or a purl row?
    Thanks so much for the fantastic tutorial.
    Faye.

    • February 26, 2015 10:34 pm

      Hi Faye-the cast on doesn’t count as part of your chart, the first row will be the one after the cast on and that row can be either a RS or WS row, the pattern will tell you

  51. CLD permalink
    February 22, 2015 5:55 pm

    Hi! I am a beginner knitter and hope you can help me… My pattern (from Classic Elite) calls for purl on right side and knit on wrong side then continue knitting in a repetitive pattern. How do I purl on right side and knit on wrong side? (I though we were always knitting on right side and purling on wrong side…) Thank you for your advice!

    • February 25, 2015 9:40 pm

      You can knit or purl on any side, I suspect the pattern has the purl side ‘showing’ or as the right side?

  52. February 22, 2015 9:33 am

    Hi working on a lave pattern shawl and I am confused because my markers do not seem to stay in place. So I am confused as how to proceed. Can your markers move and the knitting be correct?

    • February 25, 2015 9:41 pm

      You may want to double check that if you have Yarn Overs right before or after the marker that they are staying where they should, that you aren’t moving the markers by misplacing the Yarn Overs.

  53. Lynn Giampetroni permalink
    February 15, 2015 5:55 am

    I am working a cable pattern that starts row 1 ws on left side of chart. should the chart be read with odd rows left to right and even rows right to left?

    • February 19, 2015 12:04 am

      HI Lynn – I’m not sure, since I don’t have your pattern and chart in front of me. Have you read the chart notes or instructions? I would guess that row 1, WS should be read from left to right, and then the following row (row 2, RS), would be read from right to left. But every designer choses their own chart ‘conventions’, so there’s no way for me to know 100% how your specific chart is meant to be read without seeing it.

  54. February 8, 2015 4:11 pm

    Hi –
    I have a question….

    I am working on a sweater where the back is three panels and has three different charts. One chart for the left, one for the center, one for the right of the back. I’m assuming that when I turn the work to work the wrong side rows that I also change the charts order. So for the wrong side I would use the left chart first, then center, then right. Is this correct? I’m about six rows up and wanted to make sure I’m doing this correctly. I am reading from left to right on each chart on the wrong side row. Thank you!

    • February 9, 2015 6:31 pm

      Yep, on the RS you would work right side chart, then the middle chart, then the left chart. On the back you would work left, center, right.

  55. February 2, 2015 9:45 am

    For some reason I am able to knit from charts, but each time a new chart pops into my knitting I need a refresher course on HOW to actually use them. Your tutorial is amazing. Thank you for this incredibly useful post!

  56. Aideen O'Kane permalink
    January 28, 2015 4:09 am

    If working a colour chart for fairisle do you just look at the chart and then write it out so it is easy to follow?

    • January 28, 2015 8:53 am

      I wouldn’t ‘write it out’ – I would simply knit following the chart. That way you can refer to how the chart looks, and see if your knitting is matching.

  57. January 21, 2015 5:55 am

    my chart reads “K2tog, yo, yo,k2tog” How are the two yo done? Thanks Edith

    • January 22, 2015 9:20 am

      You work two yarn-overs in a row by simply wrapping the yarn TWICE around the needle, rather than just once as you would for a regular yarn-over. On the return row you would work into this double wrap twice (typically… unless pattern states otherwise), purling the first yo, then knitting the second yo. Hope this helps!

  58. Meagan permalink
    January 13, 2015 1:14 pm

    This is a very useful, straightforward tutorial! Here’s a question I’m not certain about.

    As I am left handed, should I read the RS rows left to right instead or do you think it will matter? That would be the natural direction my knitting would follow…

    And for any sort of directional stitch, should I likewise attempt to do the opposite? I.e. ssk to k2tog, m1R to m1L, and vice versa? Thanks.

    • January 14, 2015 11:52 am

      Hi Meagan

      I’m not 100% sure. When I teach knitting, I teach everyone the same, because knitting is 2 handed, like playing the piano. Sometimes lefties throw with their left like I do (I’m right handed but do some things with my left). So I suppose my question is how you do it backwards. Is the right side still facing you?

      • Meagan permalink
        January 16, 2015 9:21 am

        Yes, the right side is facing me while I work, I just knit from left to right rather than right to left. I guess that would be called mirroring?

        I get the feeling that I would switch some directional stitches as I have encountered that issue before, especially with the M1’s.

  59. Debbie Widner permalink
    January 9, 2015 10:12 pm

    Have begun Antler Hat pattern. Knitting size L. After doing “set up” round is where I’m confused. I want to follow written directions for cable. Need some help please understanding what to do next. Thanks.

    • January 12, 2015 6:29 pm

      For the Antler Hat you are working a number of purl sts (either 3 or 5 depending on your size) between the cables. So you will purl in the purl section and work row 1 of the chart or written directions in the cable section.

  60. Magpie permalink
    January 3, 2015 5:51 pm

    This was so helpful! Thank-you so much!!!

  61. December 26, 2014 3:02 pm

    I used google and it actually came up. So now I know what ‘NO STITCH’ means. Thank you.

  62. December 26, 2014 2:27 pm

    Can someone tell me what it means when I chart has 2 squares in a row and the key says “no stitch”?

    • Alexia permalink
      March 30, 2015 7:08 am

      I’m not clear when I read this in a pattern chart for knit in the round a cowl : Begin chart 1 and repeat the pattern 16 times and then knit chart 1, rows 1-6 3 times.
      I casted on 60 stitches and the chart has 6 rows. I would like to know how many times do I have to repeat the chart.Thanks.

      • March 30, 2015 9:17 pm

        Hi Alexia – I’m not really sure without reading the pattern. Possibly there are 6 charted rows but a ‘relief row’ (like a knit round) in between? What are the chart rows numbered?

  63. December 22, 2014 3:59 pm

    I think I need some help with these
    http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/cthulhu-mittens-2
    I have the chart and am unsure how to actually DO it, do I cast on ALL the stitches ((60)) and continue with that? Or do it separately and stitch all together? Or knit it in the round? I know the big red line on it is where you do the thumb. But other then that, I’m not sure how to do this. I’m going to start it working the entire thing in the flat, putting the ‘thumb’ stitches in a bit of spare yarn and then taking it up once done. Its just a bit confusing as there is nothing BUT the chart and red lines that’s it.
    Thanks for the time.

    • December 23, 2014 10:34 am

      Are there chart instructions? I would hazard a guess that they are knit in the round. Usually patterns come with both written instructions on how to work the mitten, how to insert the chart, etc.

  64. Amanda permalink
    November 15, 2014 5:49 am

    So when working a pattern in the round you remain on the right side of the work, so you would consistently read the chart from right to left?

  65. Candi permalink
    November 6, 2014 2:39 pm

    Thank you so much for this lovely tutorial! Your careful descriptions and illustrations gave me my “Aha!” moment. As I can’t afford “real” classes, I greatly appreciate the time you took to write this.

  66. Anne A. permalink
    November 6, 2014 12:57 pm

    I have a chart for a shawl called Tipperary. The first line of the chart is numbered 1 on the left, line 2 on the right. Do I knit left to right on line 1 and right to left on line 2? Thank you for your help.

    • November 6, 2014 11:31 pm

      I’m sorry, I don’t really know, usually charts are right to left on the RS and left to right on the WS. Is the side of the work specified or are there any chart notes? You may want to contact the designer for more details.

  67. Roberta Zacharias permalink
    October 17, 2014 5:39 pm

    OMG I’ve been knitting for years and couldn’t figure out how to read a chart! I just figured it out reading this page! The light went on!!! So excited! Roberta

  68. Renee permalink
    October 12, 2014 4:46 pm

    Also I am knitting in the round trying to follow the graph.

  69. Renee permalink
    October 12, 2014 3:19 pm

    In knitting a sleeve for a gansey sweater, in following the chart, pattern says right-left-right. Does this mean not reversing the graph?

    • October 17, 2014 2:36 pm

      He Renee

      Sorry, I’m not much help without actually seeing the pattern, is it knit back and forth or in the round?

  70. Marie permalink
    September 23, 2014 6:04 pm

    If the legend shows a square as K on RS. Purl on WS
    A dot as purl on RS. knit on WS

    and the chart has row 1 blocks
    Row 2 dots
    Row 3 blocks
    Row 4 dots
    Does this mean you knit the first 4 rows?

  71. Candice permalink
    September 5, 2014 10:15 am

    What do you do with the symbol that says “no stitch?” Skip these? Slip these? I don’t understand

    • September 5, 2014 8:28 pm

      Good question, just skip them. They are usually put in to help show the pattern, but you can just ignore them.

  72. Priscilla Dow permalink
    July 22, 2014 5:41 am

    Your site has most complete lesson on charts. Was so glad to find it.

    http://tashaknits.blogspot.com/2014/01/janury-estonian-lace-shawl-pattern.html

    This is one chart that becomes lop-sided when I follow it. I have found others. Is there a technic that I do not know. Designer says there are no errors and just follow chart.
    Have been asking on other sites and on some google says my acct. Has been deleted.
    That’s another can of worms not to be done today.

  73. June 6, 2014 12:04 pm

    Hello this is really helpful but I do have one question: if you are knitting in the round (rather than rows worked back and forth flat) do you work each round in the same direction (ie right to left)? I’m assuming yes because you’re never going in 2 opposite directions… Thanks in advance! 😄

    • June 6, 2014 12:19 pm

      Also are you meant to reverse the stitches on the WS? I’m confused!

      • June 10, 2014 10:17 am

        Can you be more specific about your question? Each chart is slightly different…

    • June 10, 2014 10:17 am

      Yes! When you are knitting in the round, you will read all chart rounds from right to left (in the direction that you knit). Good luck!

  74. June 6, 2014 11:31 am

    Wanted to say thank you for all that you do for others.

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