Reading a Chart

Colour work patterns are often charted. This is because the colour instructions plus any shaping required can be very complicated when written down and reading a chart is easier. Learn how to read any chart by following our simple steps.


Make a sample swatch of your charted pattern to check not only your tension but also to make sure that you have read the chart correctly and are reproducing the pattern as required.

Step 1


Following a chart:

Chart instructions for a colour work pattern can be produced as coloured squares or printed in black and white with squares with a symbol representing the colour to be used.

Each square of the chart, whether in colour or black and white, represents one stitch and each line of squares represents one row. Unless otherwise stated, colour charts are worked in stocking stitch. Rows that are worked on the right side of the fabric are read from right to left and numbered up the side with odd numbers.

Wrong-side rows are read from left to right and numbered up the side with even numbers. The exception to this is if you are working on circular needles in which case each row is read from right to left.

Step 2


This black and white chart has blank squares and squares with symbols to indicate the colour to use. A key at the base of the charts gives the symbols and the corresponding colour yarn. The number of stitches that the motif is worked across is indicated at the bottom of each chart.

Step 3


A simple colour chart is used for this pattern with coloured squares indicating the colour yarn to be used. In this pattern you need to increase and decrease at each end of the majority of rows so you need to count the squares carefully. It helps to place a ruler under each line as you work so your eye does not wander to the wrong line.

Step 4


Often a chart will show one or several motifs but you will have to work more than the amount shown. In this case you need to centralise the motifs in your fabric. Find the centre of your piece of knitting and count the stitches in one half. Find the centre of the pattern repeat and count the number of stitches from the centre to the edge of one repeat. Subtract this from the number of stitches you counted in the half of the fabric and then work out how many more complete repeats will fit in the half to decide where to position the motif.

Most charts have sizing lines. In this example, lines also indicate the portion of the motif to be used for the sleeve as opposed to the main design on the front and back.