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 colour (in multicoloured 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 (35)

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

Britt Iréne Gotlin Blom 24.10.2019 - 23:20:

Jag har svårt att tyda diagrammet för modell 71-13 när det gäller början på ärmarna. Tacksam för hjälp med förklaring.

DROPS Design 25.10.2019 - 10:29:

Hej. Om du lägger in det som en fråga på mönstret så ska vi försöka hjälpa dig. Mvh DROPS Design

Tjietske 06.10.2019 - 22:02:

Patroon 101-19. Voorpand 49 steken opzetten (L) en patroon breien, maar dan hou ik een aantal steken over. Doe ik iets verkeerd? Patroon geeft aan 1 kantsteek, 2 av, 2 r,, 4 av, 2 r, 4 av, 2 r, 2 av, teltekening (= 17), 2 av, 8 bies. Is in totaal 46 steken.... Kunt u mij verder helpen?

Rousset Fabienne 15.09.2019 - 16:16:

Bonjour Pouvez vous m'expliquer comment faire un décalage sur un diagramme. On me dit sur le modèle 188-3 de drops de décaler le début du tour de 2 mailles à gauche pour que le motif tombe juste. Merci d'avance

DROPS Design 16.09.2019 - 13:26:

Bonjour Mme Rousset, vous trouverez la réponse ci-dessous pour la flèche 1 - pour la flèche 2, procédez de la même façon, mais glissez seulement 1 maille au début du tour; les 2 dernières mailles de chaque A.1 vont se tricoter avec la 1ère m du A.1 suivant. Bon tricot!

Rousset Fabienne 15.09.2019 - 16:12:

Bonjour Sur le modèle de la robe 188-3 de drops on me dit" au tour avec la flèche 1 dans A1 , " décaler le début du tour de 2 mailles à gauche pour que le motif tombe juste" pouvez vous m'expliquer comment faire se décalage. Merci d'avance

DROPS Design 16.09.2019 - 13:25:

Bonjour Mme Rousset, sur ce rang, glissez les 2 premières mailles du 1er A.1 du tour sur l'aiguille droite sans les tricoter, tricotez le 1er A.1 (= vous tricotez ensemble les 2 dernières mailles du 1er A.1 et les 2 premières mailles du A.1 suivant = glissez l'avant-dernière m de A.1, tricotez la dernière m de A.1 + les 2 premières m du A.1 suivant ensemble à l'endroit et passez la m glissée par-dessus les 3 mailles tricotées ensemble) ; le A.1 suivant commence après les 2 premières mailles, comme le 1er, continuez ainsi jusqu'à la fin du tour; le tour commence maintenant après la diminution du dernier A.1 du tour. Bon tricot!

Deborah 05.09.2019 - 14:48:

Hi I am really new to knitting, I am unsure of what "knit from right side, purl from wrong side" means and vise versa. Does that mean I just knit stitch a whole row and then for "purl from right side, knit from wrong side" means that I then do purl stitches for a whole row? I am really confused help would be great!!

DROPS Design 06.09.2019 - 08:36:

Dear Deborah, in the first diagram at the top of the lesson, you would have to work from RS as follows: the white squares will be worked K from RS and P from WS (= stocking stitch) and the black dots will be worked P from RS and K from WS . Each square in a diagram is matching a stitch. In 1st example at the top of lesson, work 1st row: K from RS (all stitches), P all sts on row 2, then on row 3 (= RS); work: K4, P1, K5, P1, K1 and on row 4 (=WS): K3, P4, K3, P3. and so on. Happy knitting!

Marion 05.09.2019 - 09:36:

Bonjour, il est écrit "On lit un diagramme tricot dans le sens opposé de la lecture classique: de droite à gauche et de haut en bas." mais la flèche sur le schéma en dessous indique une lecture de bas en haut. Qu'est ce qui est correct?

DROPS Design 05.09.2019 - 09:43:

Bonjour Marion, c'était une erreur, il faut effectivement lire les diagrammes de bas en haut et non de haut en bas (sauf mention contraire explicite dans le modèle), la correction a été faite, merci pour votre retour. Bon tricot!

Sandrine 27.08.2019 - 12:21:

Je dois commencer un diagramme à la 4ème maille mais je ne comprends pas bien comment faire... dois-je continuer le rang suivant en m'arrêtant au même niveau que cette maille ou dois-je continuer jusqu'au bout du diagramme ? Je ne vois pas comment répéter une partie du diagramme Si Je ne commence pas au début. Merci

DROPS Design 28.08.2019 - 09:03:

Bonjour Sandrine, si vous devez commencez par la 4ème maille, tricotez (sur l'endroit) à partir de la 4ème maille vers la gauche jusqu'à la fin du diagramme, puis, répétez-le à partir de la 1 ère jusqu'à la dernière m (= les 12 m dans l'exemple ci-dessus), il vous restera quelques mailles avant la fin du tour que vous tricoterez comme les premières mailles du diagramme. Bon tricot!

Janis 19.08.2019 - 16:07:

How to work M3 diagram. Start 1st stitch where arrow shows the size on left side but the RS row starts from the right hand side of diagram. Where do actually start from the left or right side of diagram

DROPS Design 20.08.2019 - 09:41:

Dear Janis, could you please ask your question on the pattern you are working on? It would be much easier to answer you if we can check the diagram/pattern at the same time, thanks for your comprehension.

Linda 19.08.2019 - 01:25:

DROPS / 206 / 51. I'm knitting the smallest size, so after the garter stitch I have 132 stitches. When I add up the stitches for the pattern, there are only 120 stitches to be worked. Please can you explain? Also, I don't understand A.1A and A.1B - do I knit both, one after the other, on the same row? Kind regards

Linda 19.08.2019 - 01:32:

Me again. Please ignore the question I just sent regarding DROPS / 206 / 51. I've worked everything out now. Thanks

Nicole ANCONINA 17.08.2019 - 08:27:

Bonjour,je souhaite réaliser le pull Children 32-7. Le diagramme montre des augmentations. Je suppose qu'il faut les répéter sur tout le rang. Je suis perturbée car je ne comprends pas comment le motif peut se reproduire régulièrement et si je calcule le nombre de mailles augmentées ajoutées à celui du départ (taille 2 ans), il m'en manquera à la fin d'A1. Merci de m'aider, mon petit-fils attend son pull avec impatience. Cordialement

DROPS Design 19.08.2019 - 12:31:

Bonjour Mme Anconina, en taille 2 ans, on commence A.1 avec 6 mailles que l'on répète 12 fois soit 6x12= 72 m; en même temps, au 1er rang de A.1 on va augmenter 2 m, on aura donc 12 x 8 m = 96 m dès la fin du 1er rang. On continue ensuite en suivant le diagramme et en augmentant aux rangs indiqué à chaque fois jusqu'à la fin = 16 m dans chaque A.1 x 12 = 192 m. Bon tricot!

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