How to read a knitting pattern?

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How to read a knitting pattern?

Reading a knitting pattern can seem quite simple at first. You can compare it a bit to reading a recipe, first the ingredients are listed followed by the instructions. Translated into knitting, it becomes yarn, knitting needles, knitting strength - which we looked at in previous posts, and then the instructions for it. BUT a knitting pattern is a bit more complex than that, it contains a lot of abbreviations and terms you don't come across in a recipe and in many cases there is a diagram to decipher as well.

The thing about knitting patterns is that there is no "template" for how they should be designed and what they should contain. So also when it comes to abbreviations. There is no accepted "general translation". However, the vast majority of patterns contain a table of the current abbreviations used and what they mean. The same applies to the diagrams and their symbols, but even there there is a table for the meaning in the particular pattern in question.

The key to deciphering your knitting pattern is to be able to interpret these abbreviations and chart symbols.

A table of abbreviations might look like this: 

If there is an abbreviation or explanation that is extra complicated, you will usually find a detailed explanation or a link to a video clip. It is so fantastic for us who knit today that youtube and google exist!


Yes, following a diagram in a knitting pattern is a bit backwards, you don't read the diagram the way you read a normal text. The diagram is a grid pattern that you read in the direction you knit. 

In the diagram, each stitch corresponds to a square and each row thus corresponds to a row.

Depending on how many stitches the knitting contains (for example, a cardigan can have several hundred stitches on the round) then a particular section or "report", as it is called in knitting language, can be marked and the stitches of this report repeated a specified number of times.

You read the diagram from bottom to top. The first round is read from right to left. 

If you knit back and forth, you read the uneven rows from right to left and the even rows from left to right. The uneven rows are the right side and the even rows are the wrong side. At first it may feel a bit complicated, but it is still logical.

If you knit in the round, you read each round, i.e. each row, from right to left.

Does it sound complicated? It's not that complicated! But I recommend that you print or copy your pattern on paper and have a pencil handy so you can mark where in the diagram you are reading.

The following symbols often appear in patterns with structure and lace, but also patterns with multi-color knitting have diagrams and in these diagrams the color of the box corresponds to which color the stitch should be knitted in if the diagram is in color, otherwise the different pattern colors in the diagram usually get their own symbols so you know what color the mask should be.

Chart symbols can look something like this:

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An important thing to address when it comes to knitting patterns is the designer's copyright. In the pattern, the terms of use are usually stated as ©copyright and this means that you may not share patterns or resell them without permission unless otherwise stated.

So it is not allowed to copy a pattern and give it to a friend or share a digital pattern file.

So when I advise you to print or copy the pattern to be able to take notes and mark, it is for your own use only.

Different shapes

Knitting patterns can be found in many different forms, for example in the form of pattern books, knitting magazines and newspapers, individual printed patterns, digital patterns in pdf etc.

At 60 Garner Nord you will find pattern books, individual patterns and magazines with several patterns in each. And of course everything else that is needed for your knitting.

So maybe reading a knitting pattern wasn't so much like reading a recipe after all...

But fear not, choose your pattern and get started. However, I recommend that you read through the entire pattern before you start knitting so that you know what to expect.

Should think that what lies ahead is Lovely knitting!

Hugs / Pernilla