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How to Read Charts Knitting in the Round

Lace knitting produces a stunning display of holes within the fabric. This texture can be regular, such as grids or lattices as seen in the Lockdown Hugs shawl, or it can create images within the fabric, such as the lotus flowers in the Midnight Maths shawl.

Either way the written instructions can appear very complex, and this can be off-putting for a beginner. Many of my patterns have accompanying charts which some lace knitters find simpler to follow.

However not everyone is used to reading a chart, and these too can seem intimidating.

To help with this, I have created have included this how-to mini series of articles covering the basics, reading flat and in the round, changing stitch counts and top 5 tips for working with charts.

Let’s begin.

How to read the chart when knitting in the round

Here you can see the grid, with numbers along the sides and some symbols charted within it.

The chart to the right shows a 4-round repeat that is worked over 8 stitches.

When knitting in the round, we are actually working in spiral, from right to left with the public side facing, stacking one row on top of the other.

Hence, the ‘row numbers’ in this grid, in fact, corresponds to the ‘round numbers’ in the actual knitting. For example, the number, 1, on the right-hand side denotes ‘round 1’ and ‘4’ denotes ‘round 4.

These numbers on the sides also tell you from which direction, right to left or left to right, you should read the grid. You should always start reading the chart from the side that is numbered. You will see the difference when I come to discuss chart reading when knitting flat later. Numbers situated along the bottom/top edges show you the number of stitches needed to complete this repeat.

In this case, it’s is 8.

The written instructions may simply say work the chart x number of times, or work the chart to the end of the round. In this case the stitches from the relevant numbered row of the chart would be repeated until you finish the round.

To translate this chart into written instructions, it should look like this,

Round 1: P1, k2tog, yo, k1, yo, ssk, p2.

Round 2: K to end of rnd.

Round 3: P1, k1, yo, k3tog, yo, k1, p1, k1.

Round 4: K to end of rnd.

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