Knitting charts: tips and tricks

Knitting charts… They intimidate several knitters! They may seem scary when you look at the sum of these little squares filled with various mystical symbols aligned together...

Do not panic : The thing is to get organized !

First, here are the basic rules for reading knitting charts.

  • The knitting charts read the same as you knit: if you knit back and forth you will have to read your rows (odd) from right to left and your rows (even) from left to right. If you knit in the round, you must read your charts from right to left at all times.
  • For stitch patterns charts (and not colorwork charts), squares identified in black (as in the illustration below) or missing squares are missing stitches (either because they were decreased earlier or because they will be increased later.) You must ignore these stitches (they do not exist) and continue with the next square on the chart.
  • Check to see if all the rows are shown on your chart : Some charts show only the even rows and / or odd will tell you to knit the row back and / or even as the stitches appear. This is an important detail !!
how to read knitting charts

Easy tips to follow knitting charts

Personally I really like working with stitch markers. In the example of the knitting chart shown above, this is a pattern that repeats all around the neck. I will prepare my work by placing a marker between each repetition in the chart. (shown in the illustration below by the red lines.)

This way it will be easier for me to read and execute the chart on my row as well as to identify a possible error in my kntting. I do not need to finish the full round before I realize it and undo the complete round to find the error...

How to read knitting charts

Secondly, I almost always work my charts with a "Post-it". So I take it off the chart and put it on the next row as the knit moves on. The post-it is also very convenient to write your notes: Legend points illustrated on the chart, number of completed rows, motivational quotes, etc!

How to read knitting charts

 

In the case of wider charts, you will need a Pattern Holder with a magnetic ruler as this one: Knitter's Pride Pattern Holder.

How to read knitting charts

 

I like to cut the chart into smaller sections for easier reading. Take the following chart for example:

How to read knitting charts

 

Reading each row of 60 stitches can be tedious and we will most likely need to recount our stitches along the way. I suggest you cut out your chart as well: use a red pencil to dissect different sections of your chart and place markers in the same places on your knitting (see illustration below).

How to read knitting charts

 

For stitch pattern charts (and not colorwork charts) be careful not to dissect your chart in the middle of a cable or decrease / increase or you will have to move your marker constantly.

Sometimes, simply adding a pencil line without using markers will make reading the chart easier. For example, draw a red line in the middle of the chart for each multiple of 5 stitches.

In order to avoid the repetitive comings and goings of your eyes between your chart and your knitting, try to mentally compose yourself a little nursery rhyme. Take the chart below for example:

How to read knitting charts

 

Suppose you have to repeat this pattern 10 times in a row around your work, here is the series you need to memorize for the bottom chart:

First row on the bottom of the chart (row 33) : 2-1-5-1-3 … 2-1-5-1-3 … 2-1-5-1-3 …

Next row (row 34) : 1-1-1-1-3-1-1-1-2 ... 1-1-1-1-3-1-1-1-2 ...

If the series is longer, add to the nursery rhyme this melodious tune eg ("Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star"), it will be even easier to remember!

The idea is to find tips that help you and make it easier for you to read your charts. Let's try to put these new tricks into practice with few of our knitting patterns:

Happy knitting to all !!

Comments (1 Response)

13 November, 2020

Mary Ellen

Very helpful chart reading tips. I have been knitting for many years and I never stop learning new tips!

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