Knitting pattern diagrams are literally the “blueprint” for your pattern. There is no specific trick or method to reading it.
At Hobbie’s House and Custom Costume Knits, we create our own diagram for each custom pattern and like to have nearly all the required information visible on the pattern diagram.
In fact, we rarely use written instructions. Every detail is written in our own version of shorthand and displayed within the diagram itself.
Although a minimum of information should be displayed on the “blueprint” diagram, the pattern designer/writer controls how detailed and descriptive the diagram will be.
If the diagram is drawn out for several sizes, multiple numbers are listed for stitches and rows. Each set of “numbers” is collected within brackets or parentheses or identified by various colors.
When it comes to measurements, the diagram should, at a minimum, give you both the overall measurement [such as the total body length or the total sleeve length], or the point to point distance between two sections, such as the measurement of the sleeve cap, the depth of the ribbing or the distance between the ribbing and the beginning of the armhole.
In our opinion, it is much easier to visualize and work a sweater piece in sections. The ribbing is section A with its own set of measurements, followed by section B [the area between the ribbing and the beginning of the armhole]. Then comes section C – the armhole – followed by section D which is the shoulder area.
Be sure to read your knitting pattern thoroughly before you begin to knit. Make sure you are familiar with the various knitting techniques required to complete your pattern.
If you are not familiar, why not practice the technique on a test swatch rather than on your knitting project?
Simple Knitting Pattern Diagrams
Often, the written directions do not match the information provided on the diagram.
So…if the instructions are for multiples sizes, select YOUR size and re-draw the diagram on a larger scale [on an 8 1/2 by 11 inch piece of paper] to include YOUR notes about decreases, total number of rows per section, etc.
Before too long, you will have your own set of shorthand notes directly on the diagram and you may never refer back to the written instructions!
Here are some examples of Hobbie’s knitting shorthand for sleeve increases: instead of “increase 1 stitch at each end of every 10th row twice, then every 11th row 4 times” re-write it in the following way…
- + 1 E [every] 10Rs 2X
- + 1 E 11Rs 4X
You can add a few details!
- +1 E 10Rs 2X [rows 2, 12]
- +1 E 11Rs 4X [rows 23, 34, 45, and 56]
Here is the shorthand for the sleeve cap shaping, [on each side]:
- Cast off 4 stitches then
- 1 E R [every row] 4X
- 1 EOR [every other row] 8X
- 1 E R 4x
- 18 sts [cast off]
Try knitting pattern blueprints for your next knitting project and you may never read a knitting pattern the same way again.
Tools We Use To Create Simple Knitting Pattern Diagrams
The Child’s size 6 cardigan is the perfect knitting pattern to use when learning how to draw your first knitting pattern diagram.
On a sheet of graph paper, draw the basic shape of the sweater and mark the location of bands – the bottom band, cuffs and neckbands. This does not need to be an artist’s rendering – just a very basic outline shape. We recommend drawing out each piece on a separate sheet of paper.
As you read through the knitting pattern, make notes on the diagram:
Note the number of stitches to cast on for the ribbing, then, if there are any increases on the last row of ribbing, note the NEW number of stitches just above the band.
Abover the band, mark the increases.
Then mark the number of stitches at the widest part of the piece.
Next comes any drecreases for armhole shaping and eventually, the last note should be the remaining stitches to be cast off.