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How to Read Charts Working Flat

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 flat

When working flat the chart would normally show right side rows (odd numbers) and wrong side rows (even numbers), always as if seen from the public side of the project.

You should check the specific pattern for right side and wrong side instructions.

When reading a chart that is written for flat knitting, take note of the position of the row numbers. A row number that appears on the right hand side of the grid denotes that that row should be read from RIGHT to LEFT, e.g. row 1 and 3 in the example below.

Alternatively, when the row number is situated on the left hand side of the grid, that indicates that that row should be read from LEFT to RIGHT as you work your way through your (wrong side) row.

The key will also show how the stitches need to be altered when working flat.

Always pay attention to the key and make sure you are doing what it says you should do with a particular symbol on a RS row and a WS row.

In this example there are instructions for both RS and WS stitches for each item in the key, e.g. a dot on the RS row denotes a purl stitch while it should be knit as a knit stitch on a WS row.

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

Row 1 (RS): P1, k2tog, yo, k1, yo, ssk, p2. Turn. – this row is read from R to L.

Row 2 (WS): P to end of row. Turn. – this row is read from L to R.

Row 3 (RS): P1, k1, yo, k3tog, yo, k1, p2. – this row is read from R to L.

Row 4 (WS): P to end of row. Turn. – this row is read from L to R.