Knitting with charts – part 1

knitting from charts

For everyone who wants to knit from charts, but finds their efforts foiled time and again, this post is for you. 

Actually this is my second attempt to convince knitters everywhere to give charts a try. Early in my blogging days I wrote a seven part series on conquering charts. I think maybe 16 people read it.

But I ain’t giving up. Just like I don’t want you to give up trying to knit from charts, I won’t give up trying to help with that. Call it stubbornness. Call it willful blindness. Call it beating a dead horse. I write what I feel inspired to write and this week I’m highly inspired to write about how to knit from charts.

And for the 16, or possibly 17 (!) people who actually read through this post, thanks. Hope it helps!

Yesterday I published a little pattern for knitting leaf lace wash cloths.

Leaf Me Lace
Leaf Me Lace

I provided written instructions. I also provided this chart:

chart for Leaf Me Lace
chart for Leaf Me Lace


That… is not the chart I want to start with. I want to start with this chart instead:

knitting from charts


This is a chart that will get you a leaf. Just the one. Its small, just 12 rows. In fact there are only 72 stitches in the whole leaf. Any knitter can struggle through 72 stitches of anything, right? Right.

Before we grab needles and yarn, let’s take a close look at this chart. Specifically I want to point out

  • Gray squares are place holders. They tell the chart reader “skip this box and go to one that ain’t gray”. You’ll notice that in making the leaf, you start with 3 stitches. Then the leaf gets wider. In the beginning rows, those side stitches don’t exist yet. As a chart maker I just need the spaces for later on when the leaf just wider.
  • As you are knitting you need to keep track of Right Side and Wrong Side. Notice that the blank white boxes mean one thing on the Right Side, and something else on the Wrong Side. Same with the boxes that have dots. Want to know how I think of it? Blank boxes = stockinette stitch. Dot boxes = reverse stockinette stitch.

Now let’s get started. I’m assuming that you are pretty good with following written instructions. Let’s use that to help you get good at chart instructions. What I mean is, yes we are totally going to cheat.

(Its not really cheating you know. If you have one skill, like following written instructions, its just plain smart to use that as the bridge in building a new skill, like following charted instructions.) 

Cast on 3 stitches and start with Row 0.

Row 0


Row 0 is a Wrong Side Row. All the even-numbered rows in this pattern are. So that means boxes with dots are knits, blank boxes are purls.

k1, p1, k1

Row 1


Row 1 is a Right Side row. All the odd-numbered rows in this pattern are. On the Right Side, dots = purls, blanks = knits. Check the symbol key above to see what the big “O”‘s are.

p1, YO, k1, YO, p1

Row 2


k1, p3, k1

One more, and then I’ll turn you loose to work on your own (cheater instructions are below).

Row 3


p1, k1, YO, k1, YO, k1, p1

And the rest…


Row 4 : k1, p5, k1

Row 5: p1, k2, YO, k1, YO, k2, p1

Row 6: k1, p7, k1

Row 7: p1, ssk, k3, k2tog, p1

Row 8: k1, p5, k1 (psst! notice that it is the same as Row 4!)

Row 9: p1, ssk, k1, k2tog, p1

Row 10: k1, p3, k1

Row 11: p1, cdd, p1

And there is your leaf.

Want video instructions to go with that? I gotcha covered.

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"There is no failure. Only feedback." - Robert Allen

25 Comments on "Knitting with charts – part 1"

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The word we are looking for is Determination.


sounds so easy when you break it down! willing to give it a try!


Charts are my nemesis , but I am going to do this because I love the shape and autumn is my favorite season with leaves thank you 🙂


Great article. I use charts all the time. I recommend using KnitCompanion. It’s excellent especially for charts. I’ve been utilizing KnitCompanion for about three years. Just taught a class on it in July!!!!! Keep up the good work Jenn. I miss our hangouts on Thursday nights


Can I ask what is Knit Companion?


Absolutely! Knit Companion is an app for android (& I think Apple) that’s amazing for keeping your place in a chart. I actually bought it, & I’m super stingy, to help me get more comfortable with charts. Of course now, with Jenn’s patient teaching, I probably don’t need it for that. But you can load other patterns on it, & sync it to your Ravelry queue


Don’t give up! I enjoy each and every tutorial you post. Even if I’m familiar with a technique, your posts are inspiring, and sometimes a great refresher for ones that I have forgotten. I continually share your techniques with my knitting group too. I’m certainly a fan!