Skip to main content

How to Read Knitting Charts in Round

Learn how to read knitting charts in the round from circular knitting expert Jessica Kaufman in this Howcast video.


So I'm going to show you how to read knitting charts for circular knitting. If you already know how to read charts in flat knitting, then this will be no problem to adjust, but I'll also explain this for new chart readers so that you can get an idea of what it is to read a chart and how it relates to the direction of knitting. So I have pulled a chart from one of the patterns that I have for sale on my website. This is a stranded Fair Isle hat called "Big Head Jim" and I'm going to show you with the main body chart what we do when we read a chart for knitting in the round.

So you can see here that this chart is for color work and the things I'm going to be telling you about are the same for whether your chart is a chart for lace or a chart for cables or in this case, a chart for stranded color work. So you can see that there are numbers here, all on the right side, and I put the numbers all on the right side to remind you that when you read a chart for knitting in the round, you read each row from right to left. So the opposite of how we read words in English, we're going to be reading this chart in the same direction that we knit. So if all of these stitches were on my needle, I would be knitting them from the tip of the needle, so first stitch number one, then stitch number two. So these numbers are here in the order from lowest on the right side to highest on the left side to remind you of the direction of knitting. And these numbers here are here to help you give a name to what row you're on and they're numbered from the lowest at the bottom to the highest at the top because that is the direction of knitting, right? We build our knitting up row by row by row.

So our first row here, if we are reading it, would be two of these dark stitches, three light stitches, then three dark, three light, three dark, three light, three dark, three light and you would end with one dark. And that doesn't really have anything to do with how to read a knitting pattern, but I just wanted to help you read the first row of this particular chart, which is a color work chart. So if you are used to reading patterns flat, what you would do is you would read row number one from right to left and then because you'd have to flip your... you'd have to flip your knitting over, you would be reading from the other side now because you would be working the back of your work. So then you would read row number two from the left to the right. But because in circular knitting we never turn around and knit the back, we're always going to be reading our charts and knitting from the right to the left. So you would finish round number one and then jump back here to the beginning of round number two, always reading from the right to the left. Round three, finish it. Come back here to round four.

So always jumping back here. And in this particular hat pattern, obviously you're going to need more than 24 stitches to get around the head, so this means this is the pattern repeat. The hat is a multiple of 24 stitches. So you would need to get here to stitch number 24 and then repeat the pattern again, kind of like a coda in music. You'd go back, still on round one, to the beginning of this round and knit 24 stitches again and then one more time to finish the hat. Then when you get all the way around to the end of that round, you'll see your stitch marker or whatever method you use to mark the end of your round. Only then could you move up to round two. And one little cheat that I use to help me keep track of where I am in charts like this is reusable highlighter tape, which is sold all over the internet and at drugstores, but knitters have especially taken it on as a tool where you would stick it down and cover the row that you just worked so that you can read right along the top of the highlighter tape. When you finish that round, peel it up and stick it down one row higher, and that way you can always help.

If you don't have restickable highlighter tape, you can use a highlighter or whatever you want to just mark the rows as you go. I know that some people have magnetic charts where they can move a magnet up or it's held onto a piece of magnet. Anything that you want-a pencil check-doesn't matter. So the thing to keep in mind when reading charts in the round is that you always read from right to left and repeat the chart as many times as you need to finish your round before moving up. And that's how to read charts in the round.

Popular Categories