How To Read a Knitting Chart

The hardest part of knitting is not the actual knitting process; it’s being able to understand the patterns.  A pattern can be conveyed to the knitter in two ways: as a written-out pattern or a knitting chart.

If you are a visual learner, then a knitting chart is the way to go.  Basically, a knitting chart lays out the pattern visually, without using the standard terms or abbreviations found in a written pattern.  This is helpful because the knitter is able to grasp what the pattern will look like when it’s completed.  A knitting chart is able to express stitch changes and color changes visually.  Most who have worked with knitting charts find them a challenge in the beginning but become more comfortable with the process as they become more experienced.

  • To begin to read a knitting chart, lay out the chart and start at the lower right hand corner and read across.  Each row on the chart corresponds to a row of knitting that will be done. 
  • Continue to read the pattern up the chart; for example, you will read the first row right to left, the second row left to right, the third row right to left and so on until you reach the last row, which means you are finished.

A knitting chart's level of complexity corresponds with the complication level of the project.  There are simple charts which show plain stitches and a few color changes.  However, more complicated knitting charts also exist.  These are for when a pattern calls for intricate stitch changes and numerous color changes.  When this is the case, a key is often the solution.  A key is filled with symbols and an explanation of the symbols; these symbols make up the pattern on the knitting chart.  If a person has had experience with cross stitch patterns, then they’ll find the key on a knitting chart more familiar; the concept is the same in both crafts.      

Again, a knitting chart is probably going to seem very complicated in the beginning.  If you have experience with written patterns, it might be a good idea to write out the pattern and use both to create your masterpiece.  This way, you'll have a chance to compare both the written and visual patterns and it will help you become more at ease following a knitting chart.


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