How to Read Lace Charts

Unlike last year when we had a very late spring/summer, we are getting a taste of summer a bit early here in the Northwest! For the past week, everyone has been absorbing the sunshine and enjoying the nice weather. In addition to changing up the wardrobe with skirts and dresses, warm weather also signals a change in my knitting habits. As soon as there are a few consecutive days of sunshine, it takes a lot more willpower to pick up that sweater I started last month. Instead, my needles long to cast on light and airy shawls.

Lace projects are my go-to summer project for so many reasons. I love that the project is small and lightweight, even though it will be large in size when blocked out. And I particularly love that I can squeeze my shawl project into a small bag that I bring with my when I ride my bike. And when I am done, my beautiful lace shawl keeps the chill off my shoulders on cool evenings. In my mind, lace knitting is portable, practical, and just plain fun!

However, if you are new to lace knitting, there are many reasons that might make you weary of equating lace knitting with fun. And to help you love lace as much as we do, Kerin and I worked together to create an in-depth video tutorial that goes over all aspects of reading charts for lace knitting!

There are a lot of things that can seem a bit intimidating when starting a charted lace pattern at first. You might look at the chart and be perplexed by all of the symbols. Or maybe you can’t quite get the hang of that elusive “no stitch” that seems to appear in lace charts and patterns. Lace knitting can also seem a bit off as you are knitting it, since it needs a good soak and to be blocked out for the pattern to shine. Often, a lace shawl on the needles can look like a floppy mess and through the magic of blocking, it is transformed into a lovely, flowing piece of wearable art!

Many new lace knitters often lean towards finding lace patterns that are written out line by line, however, there are a large number of patterns that simply use charting as a main portion of the pattern. It may seem a bit strange at first, but there are so many helpful advantages to using charts. Personally, my favorite thing about using lace charts is that it allows me to visually see where I am in a particular repeat on a row. It also helps me visually see if I am making that increase/decrease/bobble in the right spot as I can easily read from the chart exactly which stitches are sitting in that spot one row below my working row.

When I have worked with written instructions in the past, I found that I had a tendency to lose my place within that row and I had a much harder time trying to see if I was in the correct spot by double checking against the stitches of my previous row in the written instructions.

If you have ever been confused or unsure of how to start that lace project you’ve had your eyes on due to charts, be sure to check out Kerin’s wonderful video tutorial!

So, inquiring minds want to know – do you prefer your lace knitting with charts or written instructions?