Learn It: Reading a Lace Chart

Northampton Neckerchief by Cirilia Rose,  from Simply Modern Lace

Northampton Neckerchief by Cirilia Rose,
from Simply Modern Lace

I admire people who can knit complicated lace projects. I’m not one of those people. I watch TV while knitting, and complex lace is one of those things that doesn’t qualify as “TV knitting.”

But there are some easier patterns that work just fine while knitting in front of the TV, and I do enjoy knitting those. Cirilia Rose’s Northampton Neckerchief is one of those projects. I love it! The lacy edging and the beads . . . yes, please. And I think it’s totally doable for me.

One thing that keeps people from knitting lace is fear of The Chart! I feel you, peeps. Charts can be scary. But they don’t have to be if you know how to read them.

Here’s a tutorial from our new lace Book, Simply Modern Lace (the Northampton Neckerchief is in there, too!).

How to Read a Lace Chart

Lace Cardigan Knitting Pattern

Lace Cardigan by Simona Merchant-Dest, from Simply Modern Lace

Instructions for knitted lace are often presented in chart form. Charts offer a graphic representation of the front or right side of the pattern. The chart at below shows a visual picture of the lace-pattern repeat given in the written instructions above.

Each line of the chart represents a row of the stitch pattern. Each square represents a stitch. The chart is read from bottom to top, and RS rows are read from right to left, in the same direction as one normally knits. The first stitch on the left-hand needle as you’re ready to begin a row corresponds to the first square in the bottom right-hand corner of the chart. Notice how wrong-side rows have no patterning; they are rest rows. The symbol key tells what to do for each stitch; for example, a plain square represents a knitted stitch and a circle represents a yarnover. A right-slanting line represents k2tog and means that you knit the stitch that corresponds to the k2tog square with the stitch to the left of it.

Note that in this lace pattern, the chart shows that the number of stitches stays the same in each row—for every yarnover, there is a corresponding decrease, and vice versa. On Row 1, the right-slanting k2tog decrease is paired with the yarnover that follows it, and the left-slanting ssk decrease is paired with the yarnover that precedes it. On Row 5, the center double decrease (sl 2 as if to k2tog, k1, pass sl sts over) decreases two stitches, and the yarnovers made on each side of the decrease add two stitches to compensate.

Simple Lace Pattern

Lace-Chart-BLOGWith size 8 needles and fingering yarn (or any yarn and a pair of larger-than-usual needles), loosely cast on 27 sts (or any multiple of 9 stitches, the stitch repeat). You may find it helpful to place markers between each 9-stitch repeat.

Row 1: (RS) *K2, k2tog, yo, k1, yo, ssk, k2; rep from * to end of row.
Rows 2, 4, 6: (WS) Purl.
Row 3: *K1, k2tog, yo, k3, yo, ssk, k1; rep from * to end of row.
Row 5: *K2tog, yo, k1, yo, sl 2 as if to k2tog, k1, pass sl sts over, yo, k1, yo, ssk; rep from * to end of row.
Repeat Rows 1–6 for pattern.

After you know how to read a chart, lace knitting becomes a lot easier! I’ve actually learned to prefer charts over line by line instructions. Charts are sort of like a snapshot of the lace pattern; you can see what you’ve knit and what’s to come in the rows ahead.

sidebar-arrowsAt right is a little tip that’ll help you out in your knit lace projects. The mistake I most often make in my lace knitting is skipping a yarnover, and I hear that from beginning lace knitters, too. So here you go: How to fix a forgotten yarnover!

There’s so much more lace instruction (and beautiful patterns) in Simply Modern Lace, so get your copy today! You can download the eBook or order the book.


P.S. What’s your favorite lace-knitting tip? Leave a comment and share it with us!

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