Reading Knitting Charts

The key to making your knitting easier


They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, and a knitting chart is just a picture of knitting stitches. This picture tells you what to do and when to do it.


The tricky part of charts is that you read them the opposite directions as you do the written word. Charts are read from bottom to top. Right side rows are read from right to left. Wrong side rows are read from left to right.


Think about working a row of your knitting. When you are on a right side row, you start with the knitting on your left needle. As you work across that row, you are working from right to left, and you are also building up fabric......so you are working from bottom to top (even if the garment is worked top down!)


If you would rather watch a video tutorial........scroll down to the bottom of the page to find the video.


Each chart will give you some clues. The first thing I want you to look for are the numbers for the rows of knitting.




On this chart, Row 1 is on the left side of the chart. When Row 1 is on the left side of the chart, it is telling you 2 things


  • The chart is being worked flat, rather than in the round.

  • The first row is a wrong side row.




The symbols on the charts look like the stitches that you will be working, and there should always be a key that tells you what the symbols mean. The symbols show what the fabric looks like on the Right Side of the fabric.


  • The dots indicate purl stitches of the Right Side of the fabric. In reality, this means when you are working on the Wrong Side of the fabric, you will knit those stitches so that they will appear as a purl stitch on the Right Side of the fabric.


  • The boxes that do not have a symbol are knit stitches. You knit these on the Right Side of the fabric, and you purl these on the Wrong Side of the fabric.


  • On Row 4, the symbol indicates a cable. The key will tell you how to work the cable. In this case, it is likely C4F, Slip 2 stitches on to cable needle and hold in front, k2, k2 from cable needle. Always check the key to make sure you know how to work each symbol. Because there are so many ways to work cables, the symbols are not universal. Always check the key and the written abbreviations!







Notice where the row numbers are on this picture. All of the numbers are on the right. That means that all of the rows are Right Side rows, and that you are working in the round.








This chart is for color work. You can see that it is a Christmas Tree.

  • The number 1 is on the right. So, you begin with row 1, a Right Side row.

  • Because there are numbers on both sides of the chart, you know you are working flat.

  • The symbols are just colors. You don't have to use the same colors that are in the chart, but you do need to 2 colors, and it is a good idea to use 2 colors that have a lot of contrast.


Here is another color work chart.


Notice that all the row numbers are on the right, so we know that the chart is worked in the round. On this chart there is another indication of something that you need to do.


At the bottom of the chart are the words "Repeat 3 Times." Those words are centered under the stitches between 2 heavy red lines. The means you repeat just the stitches between the heavy red lines 3 times, and then you work the remainder of the stitches.




The above chart is for cables. There are many symbols, and the key to these symbols is shown below.

  • This chart is worked flat - you can tell that because there are row numbers on both sides.

  • The chart also has some heavier lines. In this case, you don't have to repeat any of the sections, because there are no words telling you to repeat any of the sections.

  • The lines are heavier just to make the chart easier on your eyes and to tell you that there are different sections of the chart. When there are heavy lines indicating different sections, it is a good idea to put a marker on your needles everywhere there is a heavy line. The markers say - time to do something different!

There is one other thing on this chart that is special. There is a row before row 1. This is a Set Up row. Since row 1 is a Right Side row, the row before that row is a Wrong Side row. This Wrong Side Set Up row will only be worked at the very beginning on the knitting. You may be instructed to work the 8 rows of the chart multiple times. You will work rows 1 -8 multiple times, but you will only work the set up row at the very beginning.


Here is the key for the above chart. There are even more symbols than are in the above chart because this key also covers other charts in the same pattern. Until you memorize the symbols needed in the chart, it is a good idea to keep a copy of the key in view as you are working each chart.

Would you rather watch a video tutorial than read??



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