Knitting is a simple, satisfying, stitch-by-stitch pursuit. However, to follow a knitting pattern, a beginner must first learn a number of knitting-pattern conventions. These include abbreviations, charts, multi-size text instructions, sizing, and schematic diagrams. We hope this tutorial series helps to clarify your uncertainties!
In this tutorial, we explain How to Read a Knitting Pattern in four parts:
- Understanding the Sizing and Materials Section of a Knitting Pattern
- What supplies do I need? How much yarn and what sort? What needle sizes, lengths, and types? And what additional notions and tools do I need to complete the project?
- What size will I make? How do I interpret sizes, suggested fit, and schematic diagrams?
- Understanding Knitting-Pattern Abbreviations and Charts
- What do these abbreviated terms mean?
- What are knitting charts for?
- Reading Multi-Size Knitting-Pattern Instructions
- What do all these brackets mean?
- Which instructions do I follow for my chosen size?
- Making Sense of Knitting-Pattern Finishing Instructions
- What is blocking, and how do I weave in ends?
Note: While each designer or publisher writes knitting patterns slightly differently, we tend to share common conventions. We describe our own Tin Can Knits pattern-writing conventions in these tutorials, but once you understand these conventions, the variations that other designers use will be easier to learn and understand.
Practice with a free pattern today!
Put your new learning to the test and get started with one of our free knitting patterns from The Simple Collection, a learn-to-knit series designed to help knitters make the next stitch and learn the next skill. And be sure to share this post with newer knitters you know who are still a little bit unclear about knitting-pattern conventions.
Are there any elements of pattern reading that you still find unclear? Contact us directly, so we can improve this teaching tool.
~ Emily and Alexa
Great beginner knits from Tin Can Knits
February 26, 2022 @ 12:24 pm
Hi! I’m knitting the baby size Beloved Bonnet. I’ve finished the first i-cord and am beginning row 2 increase section. Do I slip 2 purlwise since the 3rd stitch is a purl, or do I slip as to knit. And on row 5, do I slip2 as to knit since the next stitch is a kfb? I’d appreciate the help as soon as you can manage—my daughter’s baby shower is approaching!
February 28, 2022 @ 2:36 am
Hello – unless otherwise noted, always slip stitches purlwise, with yarn held to the wrong-side of the work. So in this pattern, that’s always. So on RS rows, they’re slipped purlwise with the yarn held at back (WS) and on WS rows they’re slipped purlwise with the yarn held at front (WS). ~ Em
February 3, 2022 @ 5:50 pm
I am going to try to make mittens for the first time and found your pattern. How many dpns do I use for the World’s Most Simple Mittens?
February 7, 2022 @ 2:58 am
You can knit them using a 4 or 5 needle set, depending on your preference (or what you have!). https://blog.tincanknits.com/2013/08/17/knitting-on-dpns/
April 10, 2021 @ 12:52 am
Hello from Germany! This will be my first sweater (yay!), but I have one question: I’ve successfully knitted the ribbing, but for the next step the pattern says to increase (in my case 22) stitches evenly (to my 86 cast on stitches). Which increase of stitches am I supposed to make? And to increase evenly am I supposed to make an increase every 4 stitches? Thanks for your help!
April 10, 2021 @ 1:08 pm
Hi Linda – You can use your preferred increase method. I usually use an m1 increase. To increase 22 sts evenly in 86 sts you will want to increase every 3-4 sts for a total of 22 increases.
Sarah Jane Sleeman
April 8, 2021 @ 9:53 pm
Please can I have your free pattern for socks?
April 9, 2021 @ 11:36 am
Hi Sarah – You can find all of our patterns on our website tincanknits.com
October 9, 2020 @ 7:06 am
your blog is amazing!
October 8, 2020 @ 6:15 am
I made several pairs of socks from your Rye Light pattern to gift last Christmas. Thank you for that wonderful pattern—they were a hit.