How to read knitting diagrams

A knitting diagram consists of squares. 1 square = 1 stitch - the symbol definition provide information on how the stitch is worked. The diagram shows all stitches seen from the right side (unless otherwise specified).

A diagram looks like this:

  1. A.1 is the name of the diagram, and refer to the entire diagram.
  2. A.2 is only the part of the diagram within the square brackets.
  3. This number refers to the number of stitches on the 1st row of the diagram.
  4. This is the symbol definition: it explains how each stitch is worked, or in what color (in multicolored patterns).

You read a knitting diagram completely opposite to how you would normally read: from right to left, from bottom to top. In other words: you start with the symbol in the bottom right corner, and work your way leftwards and upwards (see RED in diagram below). If you are supposed to start at a different point/with a different stitch, will this be specified - for example: the different sizes can start at different places in the same diagram (see BLUE box below).

If you are supposed to work several repeats of a diagram (ie: work the same diagram several times in width) you’ll work until the end of the diagram row, and start again with the first stitch for the next repeat.

Back and forth:

When working back and forth, every other row will be worked from the right side and every other row will be worked from the wrong side. Since the diagram shows all stitches seen from the right side, you’ll have to work it in opposite way when working from the wrong side (see BLUE arrows in diagram below): you read the row from left to right, knit stitches are purled, and purl stitches are knit etc (this will often be specified in symbol definition: “knit from right side, purl from wrong side”).

In the round:

When working in the round all rounds are worked from the right side, and the diagram is read solely from right to left. When starting a new round, simply start working the first symbol on the next row in diagram.

Several different diagrams worked consecutively on the row/round:

If you’re working several different diagrams after each other on the same row/round, work as follows: Work 1st row in diagram 1, continue with 1st row in diagram 2, then 1st row in diagram 3 etc. REMEMBER: if you’re working back and forth, the diagram will have to be worked in the opposite order from the wrong side - ie: start with diagram 3, then diagram 2 and lastly diagram 1. They are also worked in opposite way as usual.

In the pattern this can be written as follows: “work A.1, A.2, A.3 a total of 1-1-2-3-4 times”. This means that you first work A.1, then A.2 and finally you repeat A.3 a total of 1-1-2-3-4 times (depending on your size). It is ONLY A.3 that is repeated, A.1 and A.2 are worked 1 time each.

When stitch count doesn’t match whole repeats of diagram:

Sometimes the stitch count is not divisible with full/whole repeats of the diagram in width. For example: A.1 covers 12 stitches and is to be repeated over 40 stitches. In this case you will work 3 full repeats of A.1 (=36 stitches), and then work the first 4 stitches in the diagram over the remaining stitches (see RED line below). This is usually the case where the diagram is a repetitive pattern, so that regardless of working full repeats, the pattern will still be consistent.

Comments (45)

Helen 20.01.2020 - 19:31:

I am knitting Dreams of Arun DROPS / 135 / 3 size M. I am starting the pattern 1st row but it doesn't add up. I have 253 stitches. It states follow M3, M4, M3 M1 etc for a set number of stitches but when you add up the 12+52+24+52+12 this adds up to 152 stitches which isn't over half the stitches and not any where near the whole round. What have I done wrong?

DROPS Design 21.01.2020 - 10:54:

Dear Helen, in this pattern work as follows in size M: M.2 (=12 sts), M.3 (=8 sts), M.4 (= 10 sts), M.3 (= 8 sts), M.1 (=52sts), M.3 (=8 sts), M.4 (10 sts), M.3 (8 sts), M.2 (= 24 sts), M.3 (=8sts), M.4 (=10 sts), M.3(=8sts), M.1 (= 52 sts), M.3 (=8sts), M.4(=10 sts), M.3(=8 sts), M.2 (=12 sts) = 12+8+10+8+52+8+10+8+24+8+10+8+52+8+10+8+12=256 sts. Happy knitting!

Heather F 13.01.2020 - 01:47:

Hello, I am working on Drops Baby pattern 31-16. I have a question regarding the proper reading of thee Diagrams. Starting with the first row A.1/A.2, is this started on the right or wrong side? If it is the right side, then the next row goes to patterns A.3 and A.4, is the first row of these patterns started on the wrong side? ie. Does the cable portion become a pearl rather than a knit? Kind regards, Heather

DROPS Design 13.01.2020 - 11:29:

Dear Heather, you work first row in A.1, A.2 from RS, reading from the bottom corner on the right side towads the left, then read from WS from the left towards the right. Work first row in A.3 and A.4 from RS and work the diagrams the same way as explained above. The stitches with a - are stitches worked P from RS and K from WS - see 2nd symbol. Happy knitting!

Natasa Papadopoulou 10.01.2020 - 18:35:

Hi, what does it mean cast off 2 stitches 2 times and 1 stitch 1 time?

DROPS Design 13.01.2020 - 11:24:

Dear Mrs Papadopoulou, if you work this on one side only of piece, cast off first 2 stitches at the beginning of the row, then work row to the end, turn, work row back and cast off 2 stitches , work row to the end, turn work return row and cast off 1 stitch at the beg of next row. If you cast off on both sides, you will cast off 2 stitches at the beg of next 4 rows (= 2 sts 2 times on each side), then 1 st at the beg of next 2 rows. You are welcome to ask your question on the pattern you are working on to make sure you will get the right answer matching the pattern. Happy knitting!

Edith 10.01.2020 - 15:43:

Je fais le patron33-1 et je comprend pas le diagramme A1 une bride dans la maille est ce 2 bride ens dans la même maille et à combien de distance

DROPS Design 13.01.2020 - 11:26:

Bonjour Edith, si vous parlez du 1er rang de A.1 de ce modèle, vous *sautez 1 m, crochetez dans la m suivante: 1 bride, 1 ml, 1 bride, et sautez 1 m*, répétez de *-* tout le rang (entre 2 motifs de A.1, on aura 2 mailles sautées: celle de la fin de A.1 et celle du début du A.1 suivant). Bon crochet!

Bardi Rosella 01.01.2020 - 20:19:

Buon giorno. Per favore cosa significa in uno schema Fair-Island una '' m'' all'interno di un quadretto ?

DROPS Design 12.01.2020 - 12:09:

Buongiorno Rosella. Purtroppo non riusciamo ad aiutarla. Se cortesemente ci indica il modello Drops in cui trova difficoltà. Grazie. Buon lavoro!

Mélodie 18.12.2019 - 21:46:

Bonjour, Je fais le modèle U-625. J'ai un décalage dans le motif M2 entre le début et la fin des rangs du pull. En effet ma dernière maille du rang 8 se retrouve à côté de la première maille du rang 9. Dois-je anticiper la démarcation et faire la dernière maille du rang 8 à la place de la dernière maille du rang 7 pour éviter le décalage dans le motif ? Merci d'avance pour votre réponse. Cordialement

DROPS Design 19.12.2019 - 08:46:

Bonjour Mélodie, en fonction des jacquards, la technique des rayures en rond peut aider, mais parfois, un léger décalage est inévitable. Bon tricot!

Rachel 18.12.2019 - 03:33:

On the pattern for socks DROPS 100-19 at the bottom of the diagram M.2 what does "36 m str 40/42" mean in English? And on the side 16 p/v? Please email me a response. Thanks for your help!

DROPS Design 18.12.2019 - 08:13:

Dear Rachel, this means you are working M.2 over 36 stitches in size 40/42. Happy knitting!

Jenny Timgren 17.12.2019 - 09:12:

Har ni några tips på enkla diagram att börja med? Har aldrig stickat efter diagram förut och skulle vilja göra en tunn sjal 🙂

Nasreen Syed 15.12.2019 - 17:07:

Sorry what do you mean or k1 row purl1 row because after the 2nd pattern my garter row is not starting from the right side i have to purl from the right side si the whole cycle is disturbing

DROPS Design 16.12.2019 - 09:59:

Dear Mrs Syed, for any individual assistance please feel free to contact the store where you bought the yarn, even per mail or telephone, they will help you to read diagrams. Happy knitting!

Nasreen Syed 13.12.2019 - 15:18:

In the pattern after the garter rows the 2 rows which is kfrom right snd purl from back shown in the diagram are 2 of them means that you k 1 row p 1 row then k 1 row and purl 1 row or just k 1 row and p1 row

DROPS Design 16.12.2019 - 09:58:

Dear Mrs Syed, on first row inA.1 you have to knit all stitches = 1st symbol: knit from RS. on 2nd row in A.1 you will knit all stitches = 2nd symbol: knit from wrong side. Happy knitting!

Nasreen Syed 05.12.2019 - 14:47:

Hi i am still working on odeta and having trouble to follow the pattern specially on the yarn over the 8 st are 2 knit 2 knit tog yarnover knit1 yarn over knit 1 slip 1 knit 1 slip.the slip st over the knit st Row 2 of the pattern 1 knit 2 ktog yarnover k1 k1 yarnover k1 slip1 k1 slip the slip st over the k st The ladt row of the pattern k2 yarnover k1 slip 1 k2 tog slip the slip st over the k st is that how it goes

DROPS Design 09.12.2019 - 10:30:

Dear Mrs Syed, remember that diagram should be read from bottom up, ie row 2 in pattern-1 = A.1 = knit from WS. When you have K2 tog, YO all the row (= ex. A.3), just work K2 tog, YO over the stitches worked following that diagram. Should you need any further assistance reading diagrams, you are welcome to contact the store where you bought the yarn, even per mail or telephone. Happy knitting!

Duquenoy Francine 03.12.2019 - 11:02:

Bonjour Merci pour ces explications claires et précises

Nasreen Syed 24.11.2019 - 16:44:

I am trying to knit Odeta and i am not a new knitter but this pattern is confusing me when i am reading the pattern its directly starting with the diagram their is no ridge but the picture has ridge and the pattern says 3st then the diagram A1 8st and then it sayswork on 104st and then 13st and so how how does the diagram goes 8 1 8 please explain Regards

DROPS Design 25.11.2019 - 13:07:

Dear Mrs Syed, when working A.1 on this pattern, the diagram includes the first 3 ridges (see the first 6 rows in diagram). You then work: 3 sts in garter st (= K every row), then repeat A.1 (= 8 sts) a total of 13 times over the next 104 sts, then work A.2 (= 1 stitch - so that pattern is symetrical on both sides) and finish with 3 sts in garter st. From WS work: 3 sts in garter st, A.2, repat A.1 reading diagram from the left towards the right, 3 sts in garter st. Happy knitting!

Brenda 24.11.2019 - 01:43:

I just want to say how awesome all of the tutorial and lesson videos are, and I am SO grateful for this explanation on how to read a chart. Everything is so thorough and meticulous, I have no problem following along. This is one of my most favorite websites! Thank you so much for sharing!

Ire'ne Tillberg 15.11.2019 - 20:14:

Jag stickar children 23-36 Storl 3/4 år. Kommit till benen, ska börja m flätan på sidan. Förstår inte diagrammet eller diagram förklaringen. Tack på förhand

DROPS Design 18.11.2019 - 10:01:

Hei Ire`ne. Litt usikker på hva du ikke forstår. Du skal allerede ha strikket flettene før du begynner på bena. Fletten på bena fortsetter du med som før. Legg gjerne igjen et spørsmål under selve oppskriften og hva du har problemer med, så hjelper vi deg så fort vi kan. mvh DROPS design

Madeleine 15.11.2019 - 10:19:

Vill bara säga att dessa instruktioner var mycket bra och hjälper mig mycket, stort tack!

Karolyn Fredette 11.11.2019 - 21:19:

Why don't you just give us the directions, instead of these foolish confusing diagrams?

DROPS Design 12.11.2019 - 08:40:

Dear Mrs Fredette, The DROPS patterns are knitted and crocheted by thousands and thousands of people  around the world. We understand however that in certain countries, with different knitting/crochet traditions than Scandinavia, our patterns might be written in a way that differs from what some are used to. But of course we want everyone to understand our patterns, so that’s why we have created an extensive library of tutorial videos as well as step by step lessons that explain how to follow the techniques we use and how to read the diagrams in our patterns. Give them a try!

Romy Hutchinson 04.11.2019 - 21:59:

All three diagrams have a different number of lines I.e. M.3 has 18, M.2 has 8 & M.1 has 22.....I’m at line 8 which uses all 8 lines, but how do I work using different diagrams when the diagrams have different benumbed if lines? I hope that makes sense 😂

DROPS Design 05.11.2019 - 10:56:

Dear Mrs Hutchinson, sometimes the repeats are not worked in height in the same number of rows, you have then to repeat the part of the repeat over the number of rows shown in the diagram - please ask your question on the pattern you are working on to get a more detailed answer. Happy knitting!

Deborah Donnelly 30.10.2019 - 01:01:

I am doing drops design no ai-088. Don't understand the symbols in A.1 on row 41 and 43.Please help

Barbara Ross 29.10.2019 - 20:17:

HI I purchased pattern ME-042- Snuggly Bunny. Am i right in thinking the pattern is repeated along the whole row in graph pattern 1st Edge stitch in garter stitch . Also do i repeat the cables every 4 and 6 rows. Thank you . Barbara

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