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How and why to use lace charts

June 8, 2022
By Janina Kallio

How to read lace charts

We knitters have strong opinions about charts vs written instructions.

Some only use written instructions, and some swear by charts. For many of us, the sweet spot is a combination of written and charted instructions.

A quick look at the lace chart will help you visualise the pattern even if written instructions are your jam and charts make your head hurt.

All my patterns published after September 2018 include both written and charted instructions, so you can pick what works best for you. I’ve also updated several of my older patterns to include charts, and I’m slowly working through the rest.

Why charts

Charts help you visualise the pattern. For complex designs, it can be challenging to see what the knitting should look like from the text alone. Seeing the chart can help you read your knitting.

If the pattern is repetitive, it can also help you memorise it faster, making your knitting experience more meditative and relaxing.

Even if you’re following the written instructions, a glance at the chart will help you visualise the overall look of the lace pattern.

How to read charts

You always read charts from the bottom up. If you’re knitting flat, you read the right side rows from right to left and the wrong side rows from left to right. And you read all rows from right to left if you’re knitting in the round.

A pattern repeat is usually marked in a box. You work the stitches in the repeat until you have as many stitches left as there are stitches after the box on the chart row.

A chart always comes with a chart key which explains what all the symbols in the chart mean.

Bonus tip

I recommend you mark where you are in the chart. You can use a suitable function in your pdf reader or app for pdfs. If you’re knitting from a printed pattern, you can use post-it notes or washi tape. Then you can easily pick up where you left off if you need to put your knitting down in the middle of the chart.

Still not convinced? No worries, you can keep on knitting all my patterns following only the written instructions.

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