How to read knitting charts

How to read knitting charts

If you’re an avid knitter looking to take your skills to the next level, learning how to read knitting charts is a must. Knitting charts are visual representations of stitch patterns, allowing you to easily follow along and create intricate designs. Whether you’re a beginner or have been knitting for years, understanding and interpreting these charts will open up a whole new world of possibilities for your knitting projects.

Reading knitting charts may seem daunting at first, but with a little practice, you’ll soon find yourself knitting complex lace patterns and intricate cable designs with ease. Unlike written instructions, charts give you a visual representation of the stitches and their placement, making it easier to identify patterns and transitions. This visual format allows for a more intuitive understanding of the stitch patterns and how they come together to create a cohesive design.

One of the key benefits of reading knitting charts is the ability to easily customize and modify patterns. With a chart in hand, you can easily change the size, shape, and placement of stitches to create a unique and personalized garment. Charts also make it easier to spot errors and fix mistakes, as you can quickly identify where the stitch pattern deviates from the chart and make the necessary adjustments.

In addition to being a valuable tool for knitters, reading knitting charts also provides a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. As you work your way through a chart, watching the pattern emerge from your knitting needles can be incredibly rewarding. The ability to create complex and intricate designs using only yarn and needles is a testament to the artistry and skill of knitting, and reading charts is a valuable skill that will allow you to take your knitting to new heights.

Understanding Knitting Charts

Knitting charts are an essential tool for knitters who want to take their skills to the next level. They provide a visual representation of the stitches and pattern repeats in a knitting project, making it easier to read and follow a pattern. If you’re new to reading knitting charts, here’s a guide to help you understand them.

Grid Structure

Knitting charts are typically presented in a grid format, with each square representing a stitch. The chart is read from right to left, with odd-numbered rows read right to left, and even-numbered rows read left to right.

The vertical columns in the chart represent the stitches in a row, while the horizontal rows represent the rows or rounds of knitting. Most charts include a key or legend that explains the symbols used to represent different stitches or actions.

Symbols and Abbreviations

Knitting charts use symbols and abbreviations to represent different stitches and actions. The key or legend provided with the chart will explain the meaning of each symbol. Here are some common symbols you may encounter:

  • K: Knit stitch
  • P: Purl stitch
  • O: Yarn over
  • /: Slip stitch
  • \\: Slip stitch purlwise
  • *: Repeat pattern or stitches

Repeats and Pattern Sections

Repeats and Pattern Sections

In knitting charts, pattern repeats are often indicated by a bracket or other highlighting method. These repeats show a section of stitches or pattern that is repeated multiple times in the project. By identifying and understanding the repeats, you can more easily follow the pattern and see how it all fits together.

It’s important to pay attention to the instruction provided in the pattern for each repeat. Some patterns may specify how many times to repeat a certain section, while others may provide a specific number of stitches or rows to repeat.

Tracking Progress

As you work through a knitting chart, it’s helpful to cross off or fill in the squares as you complete each stitch. This can help you keep track of your progress and avoid mistakes. Some knitters also find it helpful to use sticky notes or highlighters to mark their place in the chart, especially if the pattern has multiple repeats or complex sections.

Practice Makes Perfect

Reading knitting charts can be a bit challenging at first, but with practice, it becomes easier. Start with simple patterns and work your way up to more complex designs. Take your time to carefully study the chart and consult the key or legend whenever necessary. With patience and persistence, you’ll soon be able to read and follow knitting charts with confidence.

Improving Your Knitting Skills

Knitting is a versatile and enjoyable craft that allows you to create beautiful, handmade items. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced knitter, there are always ways to improve your skills and take your projects to the next level. Here are some tips to help you become a better knitter:

  1. Practice regularly: Like any skill, knitting requires practice. Set aside dedicated time each day or week to work on your projects. The more you knit, the more comfortable and proficient you’ll become.
  2. Learn new techniques: Expand your knitting repertoire by learning new stitches and techniques. There are countless online tutorials and instructional videos available that can help you master advanced stitches, colorwork, lace knitting, and more.
  3. Read knitting patterns: Knitting patterns can seem daunting, especially if you’re new to reading charts and abbreviations. Take the time to familiarize yourself with common knitting terms and symbols. This will give you the confidence to tackle more complex patterns.
  4. Take on challenging projects: While it’s important to start with beginner-friendly patterns, don’t be afraid to challenge yourself with more advanced projects. Knitting a complex lace shawl or a fair isle sweater can be daunting, but it’s a great way to push yourself and improve your skills.
  5. Join a knitting group: Knitting groups and communities can provide a wealth of support, friendship, and knowledge. Joining a group or attending knitting classes can give you the opportunity to learn from experienced knitters, ask questions, and share your own tips and projects.
  6. Experiment with different yarns and needles: Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try different yarn weights and needle sizes. Working with different materials can help you understand how they affect the drape, texture, and overall look of your projects.
  7. Take good care of your knitting tools: Your knitting needles and other tools are essential for creating quality projects. Keep them clean, organize them properly, and replace any worn-out or damaged equipment. Taking care of your tools will ensure that they last longer and provide a better knitting experience.

Remember, knitting is a journey, and there is always something new to learn. By regularly practicing, challenging yourself, and seeking out new techniques, you can continue to improve your knitting skills and create beautiful, unique projects.

Reading Knitting Chart Symbols

When it comes to reading knitting charts, understanding the symbols used is paramount. Knitting charts are visual representations of the stitch patterns you will be working with, and they use various symbols to indicate different types of stitches and techniques.

Here are some common knitting chart symbols you might come across:

Symbol Meaning
/ Indicates a right-leaning decrease, such as knit two stitches together
\ Indicates a left-leaning decrease, such as slip, knit, pass slipped stitch over
o Represents a yarn over, creating an extra stitch in your knitting
k Indicates a knit stitch
p Represents a purl stitch
T Stands for a twisted stitch, achieved by knitting through the back loop
( ) Encloses a set of stitches that need to be repeated

It’s important to familiarize yourself with these symbols and their meanings before diving into a knitting chart. Some more complex stitch patterns may have additional symbols that are specific to that pattern, so be sure to read and understand the chart key or legend provided.

When reading a knitting chart, you will usually start from the bottom right corner and work your way up and to the left, following the symbols as they appear. Each symbol represents a stitch or a set of stitches, and you can refer to the chart key for any special instructions or variations.

Reading knitting charts may seem overwhelming at first, but with practice, it becomes second nature. They are a valuable tool for visualizing stitch patterns and can help you create intricate and beautiful knitted pieces.

Now that you have an understanding of knitting chart symbols, you can confidently tackle any knitting project that includes a charted pattern!

Tips for Reading Knitting Charts

  • Start with a simple chart: If you are new to reading knitting charts, it’s best to start with a simple chart that has a straightforward pattern. This will help you understand the basics of reading knitting charts before moving on to more complex designs.
  • Read the chart from right to left (for right-handed knitters): Knitting charts are typically read from right to left for right-handed knitters. This means that you start at the bottom right corner of the chart and work your way towards the left.
  • Use stitch symbols: Knitting charts use symbols to represent different stitches. Make sure to familiarize yourself with these symbols before you start reading the chart. You can refer to a key or legend that explains the symbols used in the chart.
  • Pay attention to repeats: Many knitting charts have repeating patterns. Once you understand the pattern of the repeat, you can save time by not needing to read every row of the chart. Instead, you can focus on understanding and following the repeat.
  • Read the chart row-by-row: When working on a project, it’s important to read the chart row-by-row. This means that you should start at the designated row on the chart and work your way up. Make sure to follow any instructions or symbols in each row carefully.
  • Track your progress: To keep track of your progress, you can use a row counter or a sticky note to mark the row you are currently working on. This will help you stay organized and avoid losing your place on the chart.
  • Refer back to the written instructions: Some knitting patterns provide both written instructions and charts. If you find the chart confusing, you can refer back to the written instructions to get a clearer understanding of how to complete each row.
  • Practice and be patient: Reading knitting charts can be challenging at first, but with practice, you will become more comfortable and confident. Be patient with yourself and take the time to understand the symbols and patterns. Soon, you’ll be able to tackle even the most intricate knitting charts!

Practice Projects for Reading Knitting Charts

Once you have learned how to read knitting charts, the best way to improve your skills is to practice using them. Here are a few projects that can help you become more comfortable with reading and following knitting charts:

1. Dishcloth

A dishcloth is a small and relatively quick project that is perfect for practicing reading knitting charts. Look for a dishcloth pattern that includes a chart, and start by working on simple designs with only a few different stitches. As you become more confident, you can try more complex patterns with intricate designs.

2. Hat

Knitting a hat is a great project for practicing reading knitting charts, especially if the hat pattern includes charts for different sections such as the brim, body, and crown. The small size of the hat allows you to see the chart unfold quickly, and you can easily identify any mistakes you might make along the way.

3. Scarf

A scarf is another project that can help you practice reading knitting charts. Look for scarf patterns that have charted stitch patterns or colorwork designs. You can start with simpler patterns and gradually move on to more complex ones as you gain confidence in your chart-reading skills.

4. Baby Sweater

A baby sweater is a slightly larger project that can challenge your chart-reading skills. Look for a pattern that includes charts for different sections of the sweater, such as the front, back, and sleeves. This will give you more practice in reading different types of charts and following them accurately.

5. Shawl

Knitting a shawl is a more advanced project that can greatly enhance your chart-reading skills. Shawl patterns often include various charted lace or cable designs, which can be challenging but also rewarding to complete. Start with simpler lace or cable patterns and gradually work your way up to more intricate designs.

Remember, the key to improving your chart-reading skills is to practice regularly and challenge yourself with more complex patterns as you become more comfortable. With time and practice, you will become a pro at reading knitting charts and be able to tackle any project with confidence!

Advanced Techniques in Knitting Charts

Once you have mastered the basics of knitting charts, there are several advanced techniques that you can learn to further improve your skills. These techniques will allow you to tackle more complex patterns and designs, and will take your knitting to the next level.

1. Shaping: Knitting charts often include shaping instructions, such as increases and decreases, to create the desired shape of a garment or accessory. Understanding how to read and execute these shaping instructions is essential for successfully following a chart. Make sure to familiarize yourself with common shaping symbols and techniques, such as yarn overs, knit and purl decreases, and double decreases.

2. Cable Charts: Cable knitting charts are a special type of chart that depict cable stitches. These charts use symbols and arrows to indicate which stitches are crossed over each other. Learning how to read cable charts will open up a whole new world of knitting possibilities, allowing you to create intricate and beautiful cable patterns.

3. Lace Charts: Lace knitting charts are another type of chart that depict lace stitches. These charts use symbols and color-coded charts to indicate different lace stitches, such as yarn overs and decreases. Knitting lace patterns can be challenging, but with practice and an understanding of lace charts, you can create delicate and intricate lace designs.

4. Colorwork Charts: Colorwork knitting involves using different colors of yarn to create patterns and motifs. Colorwork charts use symbols or color grids to indicate which color to use for each stitch. Reading colorwork charts requires careful attention to detail and an understanding of colorwork techniques, such as stranded knitting or intarsia.

5. Combination Charts: Some knitting patterns use a combination of different chart types, such as lace and cables, or colorwork and shaping. Learning how to read and follow combination charts will allow you to tackle more complex and challenging projects. Make sure to carefully study and understand each chart type used in a combination chart before starting your project.

6. Keeping Track: When working with knitting charts, it’s important to keep track of your progress. You can use a pen or highlighter to mark off each row or round as you complete it, or use a row counter or stitch markers to help you keep track of where you are in the pattern. This will prevent confusion and ensure that you stay on track with the chart.

Incorporating these advanced techniques into your knitting repertoire will open up a world of possibilities for creating beautiful and intricate designs. With practice and patience, you can become a master at reading knitting charts and take your knitting skills to the next level.

Resources for Learning Knitting Charts

Knitting charts are an essential tool for advancing your knitting skills. They provide a visual representation of the stitches and patterns used in a knitting project. If you want to take your knitting to the next level and learn how to read knitting charts, there are several resources available that can help you get started.

  1. Books: There are many knitting books available that focus specifically on knitting charts. Some popular options include “Charts Made Easy” by Mary Jane Mucklestone and “The Knitter’s Book of Charts” by Barbara G. Walker. These books provide detailed explanations and examples to help you master reading knitting charts.
  2. Online Tutorials: There are several websites and YouTube channels that offer free tutorials on reading knitting charts. Websites like and have comprehensive guides that cover everything from basic chart symbols to advanced pattern reading techniques. YouTube channels like VeryPink Knits and Knit Purl Hunter also offer video tutorials that can be helpful for visual learners.
  3. Online Classes: If you prefer a more structured approach to learning, you may want to consider taking an online knitting class. Websites like (now called Blueprint) and offer classes specifically dedicated to teaching you how to read knitting charts. These classes often include video lessons, downloadable resources, and the opportunity to ask questions to the instructor.
  4. Knitting Communities: Engaging with other knitters can also be a great way to learn how to read knitting charts. Joining knitting forums or participating in knitting groups on social media platforms like Facebook or Ravelry can give you access to a community of experienced knitters who can provide guidance and support as you learn.

Remember, learning to read knitting charts takes practice, so don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t come easily at first. With time and patience, you’ll be able to confidently follow any knitting chart and take your knitting skills to the next level.


What is a knitting chart and how does it help with knitting?

A knitting chart is a visual representation of a knitting pattern. It uses symbols or colors to represent different stitches. It helps knitters to easily understand and follow complex patterns, as it provides a clear visual guide.

How can I learn to read knitting charts?

To learn how to read knitting charts, start by familiarizing yourself with the symbols used in the charts. Many knitting books and websites provide charts with a key that explains what each symbol represents. Once you understand the symbols, practice reading simple charts and gradually work your way up to more complex patterns.

What are the benefits of using knitting charts?

Using knitting charts has several benefits. Firstly, it allows you to easily see the overall pattern and how the stitches are arranged. Secondly, it makes it easier to spot any mistakes and correct them. Lastly, charts are often more concise than written instructions, which can make the pattern easier to read and follow.

Are knitting charts used in all types of knitting patterns?

No, not all knitting patterns use charts. Some patterns are written out row by row, while others may use a combination of written instructions and charts. It ultimately depends on the designer’s preference and the complexity of the pattern. However, learning to read knitting charts can still be a useful skill to have, as many intermediate to advanced patterns use charts.


Fair Isle Knitting Charts | How to Read & Convert Charts | Tutorial for Beginners

Debbie Shore’s quick Live Stream 30/07/23

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