How to read crochet charts

So you know how to read a crochet pattern, but what are those stitch diagrams all about? We're here to show you how to read the different types of crochet charts!

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Don’t be afraid of stitch diagrams and charts, they can actually be really helpful – just follow our simple guide.

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What do charts and diagrams look like?

These three types of diagrams and charts are the most common.

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Some crochet patterns would be impossible to follow without a diagram or chart. A stitch diagram is where each stitch is represented by a symbol
– it’s a visual guide of which stitch to work where. On a stitch chart, each square represents a specific stitch or group of stitches, such as in filet crochet. On a colour chart, each square represents a specific yarn colour, such as for a striped pattern. We’ll explain just how to use them in this guide.


How do I use stitch diagrams in rows?

Follow the symbols to work your crochet pattern.

Stitch diagrams are really helpful in crochet because they show you exactly where to work each stitch.

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Each crochet stitch has a standard symbol used on stitch diagrams (see above). Sometimes collections of crochet stitches will have their own special symbols, such as tr3tog. Stitches are usually shown in relative sizes so it gives you a good idea of how the stitch pattern will look. Below you will find an example of a stitch diagram worked in rows followed by a picture showing the finished crochet pattern.
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To work from a stitch diagram in rows, start from the bottom left and work the foundation chain from left to right (if you’re right-handed). Then work Row 1, starting at the bottom right of the diagram and working each stitch towards the left. Then work Row 2 from the left side towards the right, and so on. The row numbers are placed at the start of each row. Odd-numbered rows (shown in black) are usually right-side rows, while even-numbered rows (in blue) are usually wrong side rows. Contrasting colours are used for alternate rows (black and blue here), to help.
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The position of each stitch symbol shows you which stitch to work into on the row below. A stitch directly above another stitch means that’s where you work it. An increase is shown as a group of stitches where the stem of each symbol starts at the same stitch – see the groups of trebles in the square diagram, opposite. A decrease is shown as a group of stitches where the stem of each symbol starts at different stitches, but they all lead to the same point. There are many different symbols but your pattern or key should explain what each symbol means and how to crochet it.

How do I use a stitch diagram in rounds

Often used for granny squares and other flat motifs.

Below is an example of a stitch diagram where the stitches are worked in the round to create a flat motif. You’ll find that many crochet motifs and granny squares include a diagram like this, to help guide you visually on where to place your stitches. They function in a similar way as a stitch diagram worked in rows (see opposite), but you need to start at the centre of the diagram and move outwards, completing each round in turn.

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To do this, follow the step-by-step guide above and start at the centre, working the foundation ring. Then work the next round out, which usually starts from where the previous round ends (unless you fasten off and change colour). Refer to the pattern text for colour changes and to help you learn the symbols on the diagram. Continue in this way, working Round 2 from the symbols in the stitch diagram (see our step-by-step guide above). Work all the following rounds in turn in this way. As before, the position of each symbol shows you which stitch to work into from the round below, while the numbers on the diagram are placed just to the right of the first stitch of each round. Most diagrams will be drawn for right- handed crocheters and you follow the symbols around in an anti-clockwise direction. If you’re left-handed, simply work the same stitches in a clockwise direction instead. Sometimes a flat motif worked in the round may ask you to ‘turn’ and work stitches in the other direction, then turn again. This sort of change should be marked on the stitch diagram or noted next to it.

Many patterns include stitch diagrams alongside text instructions and we recommend that you use both sets of information to work a pattern. Always read through a pattern’s text instructions because there may be notes about how to use the stitch diagram. Similarly, a stitch diagram can help you to understand exactly what a set of text instructions are asking you to do. You might also come across patterns that only use stitch diagrams (including ones from Japan), so it’s a good idea to practise working from stitch diagrams.


How do I use a stitch chart?

Here’s the lowdown on using stitch charts in filet crochet.

Stitch charts are used for certain types of project, such as filet crochet. On these charts, each square represents a stitch or group of stitches. The chart below shows the layout of spaces (1tr, ch2) and blocks (3tr) in a filet crochet pattern. You’ll notice that the resulting fabric is the same as you get from the first stitch diagram we looked at. A stitch chart helps you to visualise the overall effect of a pattern and enables you to design your own patterns. There should be a key to explain what each symbol means.

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How do I use a colour chart in rows?

Learn how to use these charts and add colour to your crochet.

Sometimes a chart or diagram covers just one element of a crochet project. The written pattern should explain what to do with the chart or diagram and where to work it. For example, a pattern might ask you to start the row by working plain treble crochet stitches, then ask you to work the pattern from a chart, then ask you to work plain treble stitches again to the end of the row. Or you might be asked to repeat the stitches from a chart or diagram a certain number of times along a row. This is often the case with colour charts, but each pattern should explain how to use the chart or diagram and include a key.

The chart below is an example of a colour chart worked in rows. Each square represents a stitch, worked in a different yarn colour – the type of crochet stitch you need to work will be explained in the pattern text. As before, you usually start with a foundation chain, then work stitches from the bottom-right corner, working odd-numbered right-side rows from the right to left and even-numbered wrong- side rows from left to right. The numbers along the bottom represent the stitch count.
Most colour charts are worked in a plain stitch pattern, such as all double crochet stitches. This makes the finished fabric fairly plain so that the colourful motif can stand out. It also means that while you’re busy thinking about changing colours and following the colour chart, you shouldn’t have any complex stitches to have to worry about.

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With colour charts, you’ll sometimes find that once your colour pattern is crocheted, it can look different to the pattern on the colour chart. Don’t worry, this is totally natural and you haven’t done it wrong! Stitch charts are generally worked in perfect squares whereas crochet stitches are different shapes – double crochet stitches are fairly square, but treble stitches are tall and thin. So if you use treble crochet to work a colour motif that was intended for double crochet, it will look much taller and thinner. You’ve been warned!


How do I use a colour chart in rounds?

Often used for Fair Isle projects and other colourful makes.

Working a colour chart in rounds involves the same techniques as working a colour chart in rows (see above). The only difference is that all the round numbers will be on the right-hand side, with each new
round starting here. This is because you start each new ‘row’ in the same place each time, instead of turning at the end of a row to create a fabric with two side edges. So don’t turn your work, just keep going round and round.

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This snowflake chart below is an example of a colour chart worked in rounds. To work from this chart, you would start from the bottom-right corner, work towards the left and you’d finish back at the right-hand side again, ready to work Round 2.
As with all colour charts, this chart only shows you a small part of the pattern – the written instructions should tell you where to work the chart and how many times to repeat it across the round. The chart below was originally intended for a festive hat (see below) and was repeated three times between Rounds 87 and 103.

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