Help with reading charts...........

I have just started (for the second time) a project that requires reading a chart as opposed to reading the actual pattern written out as stitched. I keep making mistakes in the main pattern design from the chart. Did I mention that this my first time knitting from a chart? I know that I start at the bottom of the chart at the bottom right and work my way across and then read the chart "backwards" for the next row, but I still keep messing up! I understand and know how to work all of the stitches, but I keep getting "lost in the blocks", so to say!

I say that I have started for the second time because I made a really stupid mistake and was my fault (cabled back instead of front)!!

The pattern I am working is the "Menorah Pillow" from "Handknit Holidays". It calls for a Provisional (Crochet Chain) Cast On and I thought that would be my problem, but my partner crochets and I had him make my chain to start.

I am sure you are thinking that I have plenty of time to get this right and finish before Hanukkah, but no! I am attempting to make this for a dear friend who, on the day I started this, almost died on us! She is in ICU with a severe urinary tract infection that went septic! So, time is of the essence!!

Sorry for the long diatribe! I need advice on following a chart without getting lost! PLEASE HELP!!!!!!!!!!



Craig's picture

It sounds to me that you keep on loosing your place. take a piece of card or even a ruler and use this to keep track of the row you are on. Hope this helps.

Have been knitting for years. I knit continually then will try another craft, but will return to the needles.

kiwiknitter's picture

I find with both colourwork and cables that stitch markers sort it nicely. I put them at the beginning/end of each pattern repeat. Sometimes there can be a lot of them on the needles but they work brilliantly. With this system there are only a small number of stitches to stuff-up before you notice it. Place the markers strategically (eg at the beginning and end of each design such as a cable repeat) and you'll be fine.

Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy, doesn't try it on.  ~Billy Connolly

Aside from using stitch markers to mark each of the repeats across the knitting, I also like to chart the repeat alone onto 4 squares to an inch graph paper. This larger graph is easier for me to follow than the usually small, difficult to read, charts from books or magazines.

Just make sure to double and triple check the redrawn chart before using it for your knitting.


It is much simpler to enlarge the chart on a photocopier than re-draw it. You could also mark off each row with a magic marker as you complete it, and this stops you eye straying to the line below. When I first started out with chart work I found that Jesse's method worked best for me until I could work without them.

KilgoreTrout's picture

I draw arrows outside of the chart:

Then you know which way you're supposed to be going (right side, wrong side). Make a copy of the chart and just lightly cross out the row you just completed. This should take care of losing your place row-wise, but stitch wise, try counting outloud which stitch you're on...

If wishes and buts were clusters and nutes we'd all have a bowl of granola.

I have been getting knitting help from a 78 year old neighbor who has been knitting most of her life. She still "translates" charts into written instructions, writing out the lines into K P yo C3B etc. It takes some time initially, but it really does save loads of confusion throughout your knitting. It has worked for me several times. Good luck and prayers to your friend.

eyedoc's picture

Thanks for all the great advice, guys!!!!