A number of years back, I was very intimidated by knitting charts. My first introduction to charts was when I downloaded the afghan pattern for my travel afghan. It was a pattern provided by Rowan yarns, and there are eight different squares which comprise the completed blanket. Half the patterns were available as written and charts, and half were charts only. At the time, I saved only the written patterns when they were given and begrudgingly saved the charts when there was no alternative provided. This afghan is a project I pick up every so often, and now that time has passed and I’ve learned how easy it is to follow a chart, I’ve gone back and added the charts to the patterns where they are missing.
The trick with charts is learning how to read them. When you’re first shown a chart with lots of little symbols and repeats, it can admittedly be intimidating. There is no need to be scared of charts! Your fear and hesitation is something all knitters go through, before they learn how to read them.
Let’s break charts down.
The above is a charted lace pattern that I have improvised.
Each square on the chart represents a stitch on your needle, and there is usually a key which explains what each symbol means. Many of these symbols are universal.
When reading a chart, it’s opposite to how we would read a page of written words. Charts are designed to be read from the bottom up, and you read them from right to left for the right side and left to right for the wrong side.
Charts make the most intricate lace pattern simpler, can add ease to a pattern with lots of cables, and for the visual person that I am, they are much simpler for working a row of any pattern because you can see what the stitches are going to be, rather than reading through them. A tip that I’ll pass along from the Yarn Harlot: Have sticky notes as a staple in your knitter’s bag. Having a sticky note marking your progress through a chart is a lifesaver for me.
These tips may be well known to seasoned knitters, but hopefully they will come in handy if you’re faced with your first charted pattern.