May 21, 2010

Fiber Fun Friday -- How To Read a Knitting Chart

I feel like I'm playing catch-up this morning. Normally I have my posts done ahead of time, but not this week. I had the most horrible earache yesterday. It actually had kept me up most of the night before. It felt like someone had stuck a red hot poker in my ear and wiggled it around. The whole side of my face was on fire.

Went to the doc yesterday morning and he said I have swimmers ear. What?!?! I don't swim! Apparently that just means that the ear canal has lost it's nice protective lining so it's inflamed and irritated. I've got ear drops now and the pain is down to a dull roar, but it kept me from concentrating on anything yesterday. Now I'm trying to get this post up this morning before I head out to do chores in the rain.

Have you ever come across a pattern that you loved, but choose not to knit because the instructions were in a chart instead of written out? I've passed by many in my knitting career because they just looked terrifying.Well.....I finally found a pattern that I couldn't pass up. It's the cutest baby bonnet. I know lots of expectant mothers in my ring of friends so I'm sure one of them will get it as a gift, but it just seemed like the perfect pattern to use some of my handspun alpaca. Unfortunately it has a chart for the repeated wave pattern. Yuck! I spent 2 days agonizing over this. I read instructions, called my mom, read more online and even then was not sure I was reading it right. (and my chart was a tiny repeat)

I finally decided I needed to dive right in and I would figure out fast enough if I was reading the chart right or not. Amazingly enough the pattern came out perfect so I must have finally deciphered that stupid chart right.

I thought for this Friday I'd pass along what I learned about chart reading to you in the hopes that you won't agonize over it as long as I did.

Knitting charts begin at the lower right-hand corner. The bottom row indicates the first row of knitting, and as your work your way up, each row of the chart shows the next row of knitting.

This seems totally foreign since we've had the left to right, top to bottom drilled into us since Kindergarten, but it makes sense when you think about it. If you hold you work in front of you, as if you were going to start knitting it. Were is your first stitch? On the right side of the piece. The next row would be above that's sort of makes sense when you think about it.

Instead of working each row as you see it from right to left, though, you start the second row with the first stitch on the far left side and work from left to right. Continue working from right to left, left to right, right to left from the bottom to the top of the chart. When you reach the top and knit the last row, you're done.

Some patterns are simple color patterns, while others are more complicated, requiring keys to different stitches to help you decipher them. Some knitting charts show the full width of the pattern, while others indicate where a pattern repeats over the course of a knitted blanket or shawl, for example. Color knitting charts indicate where the colors change in a pattern, while pattern charts show which stitches are made at which point in the project.

If you're having trouble making sense of a knitting chart or keeping track of where you should be, it might help to write out the instructions in words. Some people are more visual (not me) and take to knitting from a chart very easily, while for others it is more difficult and takes some practice (me!).

I wrote on my chart indicating right side and wrong side because my chart symbols were instructions like P on WS, K on RS for one symbol and K on WS, P on RS for another. Would it have been to hard to just make a purl symbol and a knit symbol!

Anyway, I made it through and the pattern turned out beautifully. Now I only have to finish the back of the bonnet and stitch the seams. Wonder who is going to get this lovely bonnet? {Evil grin} I know, but you'll have to wait to find out.

Oh, if you like the looks of the yarn, I do have another skein identical to this one in my Etsy store. It's called Jack's Crush.

For more Fiber Arts Fun visit Fiber Arts Friday.


  1. I'm completely with you. The charts scare me.

    I've been thinking about looking for a chart reading class, but for now I just save those patterns for "some day."

    Thanks for the tips. You're wave looks great.

  2. That pattern looks like the fan and feather. Charts aren't my favorite thing either. But sometimes a pattern is too nice not to try.

  3. Beautiful work. Glad you got past the fear and got it done. I love chart work, I did counted x-stitch for many years and got into it. The direction of the chart can sometimes be tricky though. Some charts will have arrows at the sides showing you the direction to knit in. My biggest chart knitting challenge was figuring out what all those blank areas meant, LOL I hope you'll tackle a bigger chart project while it's fresh in your mind so you can enjoy it more. Happy FAF!

  4. The yarn is beautiful and so is the bonnet. You make charts seem pretty easy! No longer will I avoid charted patterns!!


  5. Found you via Natural Suburbia.What a great blog!

  6. Nicole - Thanks for the compliment! Glad to know someone likes it besides just my mom. :o)



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