No, Really, the Chart Is Correct: 4 Tricks for Reading Lace Charts

I get a lot of questions about reading lace charts. People new to lace knitting are often confused by charts, whether it’s how to read the chart or what a certain symbol means. They often assume something’s wrong with the chart, but it’s usually just a new technique that they haven’t seen before. Here are the top 4 questions…

1. What the heck is a no stitch?

“No stitch” is just a space holder on the chart. When charted patterns have changing stitch counts, like for a top-down triangular shawl, a “no stitch” is included to keep everything tidily lined up. When you come to a “no-stitch” square on the chart, just skip over that square and ignore it; go on to the next square that has a stitch and work that instead. For the lace chart below, Row 1 would be worked like this:

Row 1 (RS) K2, yo, k1, yo, k1, yo, k1, yo, k2.

2. I have 34 stitches on the needles, but there are only 18 stitches on the chart!

Does the chart have a red box around some of the stitches? That’s called a repeat box; as the name implies, the stitches within that box can be repeated. On the example below, you’d work 3 stitches, repeat the 8 stitches in the red repeat box until you have 7 stitches remaining, then work the last 7 stitches of the chart.

3. My lace doesn’t look like the photo! Part 1

Are you working the chart rows in the correct direction? If you’re working back and forth in rows, read right-side chart rows from right to left, and read wrong-side chart rows from left to right. Generally, the odd rows are right-side rows, and the even rows are wrong-side rows. (If the chart begins on a wrong-side row, the row number will be on the left side of the chart and have a (WS) next to it to indicate it’s a wrong-side row.) If you’re working in rounds, like for a circular shawl, read every chart row as a right-side row, i.e. from right to left.

4. My lace doesn’t look like the photo! Part 2

If your border is looking off, it may be worked perpendicularly to the rest of the stitches. If you’re not sure if the border is worked parallel or perpendicular to the rest of the shawl, look at the chart. If there’s a red ssk or k2tog symbol, it means that stitch is worked with 1 border stitch and 1 body stitch; in other words, the border worked perpendicularly and knitted on to body of the piece.

Have you ever been tripped up by one of these? What confused you about lace charts?

Let me know – I am here to help!

Knit on, knitters –

—Laura


Reading Lace Charts – You Can Do It!

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