5 Tips for Knitting from a Chart

Knitting from a chart may seem like a daunting task. There’s a lot of information packed into these graphics and it can be confusing on how and where to begin. With a little bit of patience and practice, most knitters find working from a chart easier than working from written instructions. By following the tips below you’ll be well on your way to successfully working from a knitting chart.

1. Look at the Numbers

The numbers on the chart indicate where to start. Most charts are worked from the bottom up. In the chart above, you’ll notice Row 1 on the bottom right of the chart. The number being in this location means that this row is to be worked from right to left. Right Side rows are worked from right to left on knitting charts. Notice that Row 2 is located on the left side of the chart, which means that it is worked from left to right. This is a Wrong Side row.

Sometimes, you’ll come across a chart where all the numbers are to the right of the chart. This indicates that the chart is worked in the round. When working in the round, every round is worked on the Right Side of the project, so every round will be worked from right to left.

2. No Numbers? No Problem!

Occasionally a chart will have some rows missing altogether. This is commonly seen on large charts, where every other row or round is simply worked in knit stitches or purl stitches. The pattern instructions will indicate what stitches should be worked on those missing chart rows.

3. Check Out the Key

Every chart will have a key or legend to tell you what each symbol means.

If the symbol has a different direction for the Right Side or Wrong Side of the work, the key will tell you how to work the stitch. For example, in the key above, the blank square represents a stitch that is knit on the Right Side and purled on the Wrong Side.

Abbreviations for the stitches are typically used in the chart key. Look at the Abbreviations section of your knitting pattern if you aren’t sure what something means.

4. Watch for Repeats

Stitch repeats in charts are often marked by a red box or bolded lines. In the chart below, a ten-stitch repeat is marked with a bold, red box.

For example, if you have 25 stitches on the needle (as seen in the first photo), you would work a Right Side (or odd-numbered row) by working the first 3 stitches, repeating the 10 stitches inside the red box 2 times, and completing the row with the final 2 stitches.

5. Keep Track of Your Progress

The most difficult part of the chart reading for many people is keeping track of your progress. There are lots of ways you can keep track of where you are in a chart. You can use a sticky note or highlighter tape, to make sure you are working the correct row. It might also be useful to use a row counter or to mark your progress in a notebook, so you don’t lose your place.

By following these simple tips, you’ll be working from a chart in no time.

Related Video: Chart Reading Basics

Discussion
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11 Responses to “5 Tips for Knitting from a Chart”
    • Patricia Rivera
      Patricia Rivera

      I am starting my first chart knitting on a butterfly cabled blanket for an experienced knitter yarnspirations #LW3884 . Yes, it’s hard you must keep close notes as to where you’re at. I needed to do something to keep me busy and this is it. A life line is a must.

      Reply
  1. Patricia Margiotta
    Patricia Margiotta

    great easy to read instructions .I plan on doing a Christmas stocking and needed to read this. thank you.

    Reply
  2. Leslie Harden
    Leslie Harden

    I am left handed so do I work the chart in the opposite direction? Such as if the chart says work row 1 from right to left do I work row 1 from left to right and so forth? Thank you.

    Reply
    • Customer Service
      Customer Service

      Hi Leslie!
      Here’s what our experts had to say: Are you knitting truly left-handed (as in you’re creating the stitches in the opposite way and working from left to right when you knit? If so, then yes, the chart would be worked in the opposite direction. There’s a great class on one of other websites, Craftsy, that is very helpful for left-handed knitters: https://www.craftsy.com/class/left-handed-knitting/

      Let us know if other questions come up!

      Sincerely,
      Codi
      The Knitting Circle Video Membership

      Reply
  3. Mary Dennis
    Mary Dennis

    I would like more information on following a chart when you are making decreases for armholes. I do not find the charts very user friendly when you are decreasing. Can you help me understand this process?
    Thank you for any help you can give me.

    Reply
    • Customer Service
      Customer Service

      Hi Mary!
      Here’s what our experts had to say: I also find charts when decreasing for armholes a little tedious. I take copious notes when I’m knitting a sweater, so I would make a check mark or something on my pattern or in my notebook to keep track of my decreases. I also find it very helpful to use a sticky note and place it above the row I’m working on (so I can see on the chart the row I am currently working, plus all the previous rows that I did). We have a premium video on taking notes when knitting that you might find helpful: https://www.theknittingcircle.com/video/dont-get-lost-keeping-track-of-your-pattern-progress-018632/

      Let us know if other questions come up!
      Sincerely,
      Codi
      The Knitting Circle Video Membership

      Reply
  4. Mini Tandon
    Mini Tandon

    Thank you very much. I had to abandon so many of my projects for not being able to read my chart properly

    Reply