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How to Read a Knitting Pattern

October 8, 2020

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:

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? Comment on this post or contact us directly, so we can improve this teaching tool.

~ Emily and Alexa

6 Comments leave one →
  1. LindaKnits permalink
    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!
    Best, Linda

    • 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.

  2. Sarah Jane Sleeman permalink
    April 8, 2021 9:53 pm

    Please can I have your free pattern for socks?

  3. October 9, 2020 7:06 am

    your blog is amazing!

  4. 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.

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