Reading Charts for Rounds and Repeats


Previous Post in This Series: Working with a Few Easy Charts – A Place to Begin

What’s in this post:

 – Working with charts for knitting in-the-round

 – Handling charts that get repeated

– How charts show special stitches, like cables

Reading Charts for Rounds and Repeats

This is the third post in a series designed to help chart-leery knitters. A chart is simply a graphical way of giving the same information as you would find in written instructions. If you’re good with the written, that’s great! But some patterns, some absolutely gorgeous and possibly free (!!) patterns, are only charts. So its worth your time to conquer charts and here is hoping that these posts help you do that.

How to Read Charts in the Round

Let’s start with charts for projects that are worked in the round. Unlike charts for flat pieces, these are always read from right to left.

Why? Because you, the knitter, are never looking at the wrong side of your work. You’re always looking at the right side.

Remember how in flat knitting, all right side rows are worked from right to left? Well, in round pieces, you’re always on the right side of your work and so the chart is read from right to left for every round.




When Rounds Disappear

When working with charts, you may see something that looks like the first example… but it’s far more likely that you’ll find the second example.

These are the same chart. Well, actually they are charts for the same stitch work. Designers use charts to save space, remember? If a design doesn’t have anything special going on in the even numbered rounds, if those rounds are all knit stitches, they tend to be left out of the chart. The second example, which is more common in patterns, only provides instructions for the odd numbered rounds. The written instructions will explain that even numbered rounds are knit. Hopefully. Sometimes you are just expected to know that.

So… unless you are told otherwise, rounds not shown in charts are all knit.

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

The other common element in charts for round pieces is the repeat. For example, a hat pattern might start with:



Cast on 90 sts.

Work in 1 x 1 rib for 10 rounds.

Repeat diamond chart until piece measures 5 inches from cast on.




So what does that mean?

Once you have finished the ribbing, start the chart at Round 1. Work the 9 stitches in that round which are:

k2, k2tog, YO, k, YO, ssk, k2

Then work them again. Repeat these nine stitches over and over until you have finished the round. You’ll have worked those nine stitches 10 times.

Then work Round 2 (which is all knit).

For Round 3, start at the right and work these nine stitches:

k, k2tog, YO, k3, YO, ssk, k

Then repeat that set until the end of the round.

Once you have finished each round of the chart, go back to Round 1 and do it all over again. Lol. Until you have 5 inches of knitting.

Multi-stitch symbols

I wanted to sneak in a few words about symbols in charts that represent stuff happening to multiple stitches. Like cables. Cables happen over 3, 4, 6, or even 8 stitches and are treated as one symbol in charts. But these symbols take up multiple boxes in the chart. One symbol….multiple boxes.

I’m going back to that first chart I used in this post…

First notice that this chart shows every round. There is stuff going on in the even-numbered rounds. Also notice that in round 2 we have our first cable. It happens in stitches 4 through 7. The symbol key will tell you that this is a 2/2 left cross cable and it explains what is done to each of the 4 stitches. In round 10 we have a 2/2 right cross cable.


And that’s it! That’s all you need to work with most of the charts out there for knitting in the round. Its certainly all you need to tackle the next pattern: Wine bottle cozy.


What’ll be in the next post on charts:

 – Charts with repeats and edges stitches, life scarfs

 – Charts with repeats, edges, centers, and increase sections, life shawls

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