Chart Reading 101 – part2

Part 2PDF

Written by TuesdayFortnite


Ok, if you followed Part 1 already, you should have a little sample of crochet that looks something like this:

Row 1 of chart

Row 1 of chart

This week we are going to look at some more rows of our “slowly getting bigger” chart.  Let’s start with Row 2.

Row 1 and 2 of chart

Remember that Row 1 read from right to left, so Row 2 is going to read from left to right. directions for which way chart rows are read

Handily, this chart is numbered to help you along!  Now I’m going to ‘shade out’ Row 1 so we can focus on what is happening in row 2.

row 2 of chart, row 1 shaded

row 2 of chart, row 1 shaded

This time we have a new symbol to deal with

New symbol with the legend – can you see what it is yet?

Referring back to our legend we discover that this is a ‘shell’.  And that a shell consists of 3dc, a chain and 3dc into a single point.  If we look closely we can see that this ‘new’ symbol is indeed created out of symbols we already know – the dc   Double Crochet   and the chain Chain,    so even without a legend we could have worked that out.

Row 2

So for row 2 what do we need to do?

Chain 5 (the first 3 chain acts as a DC, which is why they are beautifully stacked on top of each other like that)

I’ll be honest.  When I see chain at the start of a row – turning chain – then I tend to work those BEFORE I turn my work.  So in this case my brain would automatically read this line as “Chain 5, turn work, next bit…..”  Other people prefer to turn the work and then do their turning chain.  It’s up to you.  However it is important that (unless otherwise told )you turn your work inbetween each row!

So now we make our ‘shell’ into the top of that solo DC we did in Row 1.  You can tell this is what we are doing on the chart by the way the base of all those DC point at the same spot.

This would probably be written longhand something like (Chain 5 – skip 2Dc and 3Ch, 3DC,ch,3DC into DC of previous row)

Note: It is normal for these stitches to be worked through both top loops of the stitch being worked into – there are different symbols for front loop only, back loop only and post stitches.  However – this is your interpretation of a stitch pattern, and you can change quite dramatically how a stitch looks by changing one of these three things.  It’s particularly good for creating texture!

Now we move on and we have 5 more chain.  In some Russian and Japanese patterns they are super helpful and add a little number (like I have here) to the chain so you are not counting chain the whole time.

We’re also going to skip the [3 chain, 5 DC, 3 chain] section in the middle of our little swatch.  See how the 5chain arches over those stitches?

Now we have another one of those shells.
This one is worked into the other lonely DC from the 1st row.


Finally we have Chain 2 and a DC into the 3rd of our turning chain (or the last of our starting chain – whichever way you want to think of it)

Wow! You’ve completed Row 2, and should be starting to think you’ve got a handle on this ‘chart reading’ lark.  You hopefully have something that looks a bit like this:

end of row 2

end of row 2

Let’s plough on and see what we can make of Row 3!

Row 3

We’re back on our ‘right’ side – and we are reading from right to left.  We have yet another new symbol – can you work out what it means before I tell you?

Row 3, new symbol

The other thing to notice is that these symbols are drawn physically smaller than the ones on the previous rows.  This does not mean they are a different stitch, or that they are worked at a tighter tension.  It means that the editor who produced the chart made them a little bit smaller to make it all fit nicely.  A bit like going from 12pt to 11pt in a Word document to make it all fit on one page.

So did you work out what the new symbol meant?  That’s right – it’s a 5DC worked into a single point.  On our legend they’ve called it a ‘fan’

Now here is where chart reading can get a bit tricksy, as there is no way of showing if a stitch or a number of stitches goes into a specific chain, or around a specific chain (meaning into the hole created).  If a number of stitches is shown going into another stitch (like we just had in row 2) then those stitches go into that stitch – the ambiguity only comes with chains.  Obviously written instructions will tell you, but if you only have a chart you have to make a judgement call.

Personally I decide what I’m going to do depending on several things:

  1. Is it possible to go into my chain? – it might not be worth the effort to try and find a specific chain
  2. Is putting (for example) 27 trebles into a single chain sensible?
  3. Is more strength gained from going ‘over’ a chain than ‘into’ a chain? (I.e. would going into the chain create a weak spot?)
  4. Does it matter if my stitch can move? – I might want my single stitch to stay exactly where I put it, or it might not matter (or even be beneficial) if it drifts slightly to one side or the other.  Or it might not be able to move anyway due to the stitches around it.

We’re going to discuss what I would do for a few of these points in a moment for THIS chart. A lot of this is going to depend on personal preference, what you are trying to achieve and the demands of the item you are making.

So starting at the far right, we have Chain 6. (note the 1st three are stacked to be a pretend DC?)

Next we have our ‘Fan’.  This is drawn as being worked into the single chain between the 3DC groups of the previous row.

What would Tuesday do?  Here I would work my 5DC into the 1 chain SPACE rather than into the chain itself.  Why? Because the DC’s either side prevent the 5DC from spreading out or moving too much, and it’s too fiddly (for me) to try and get 5DC into that one chain stitch.

Now we have Ch3 and a DC.

Again we have a choice moment.  You can either
a) work the DC over the Ch5 loop of the previous row and roughly centre it.  This would allow the stitch to move slightly side to side and not be absolutely centred during use or

b) you could find and work into the 3rd chain along.  This prevents that DC from travelling anywhere.

Having done your DC to your liking, you Ch3.

What would Tuesday do? Personally it would depend on what I was working on as to what I would choose to do here.  A shawl in worsted weight? I’d probably go over.  A shawl in cobweb weight? I’d definitely go over.  A lace doily where everything has to be crisp and perfectly aligned?  I’d go into.  Why?  A shawl moves about in use so a stitch being one chain off perfect won’t bother me.  However a lace doily, because of its size and usage, if a single stitch is out of alignment it’s really obvious.  Remember there is no ‘right’ way here – the designer can tell you what they did in written instructions, but in a chart it’s up to you.

Now we’re back to our Fan again.  This time worked into our next 1ch space (or into the Chain stitch itself if you prefer)

And finally to finish this row you have Chain 3 and a DC into the 3rd of the 5 turning chain of the previous row.

What would Tuesday do? Here I’d work into the 3rd Chain because it is the edge of a scarf (in my head it is anyway) and I want to ensure my edges are as stable as possible and don’t move about.  However, this one does kind of depend on how I feel on the day – see the further note below!

Note: It’s up to you how tidy you want to be here – you can work into the 5 chain loop and have movement, or into the 3rd chain and be exact.  When working triangular, nape of neck outwards shawls (like a traditional half granny square shawl) I’ll often work over the loop rather than into a specific chain – that way I can ‘nudge’ the edge when I’m blocking into the shape I want – it also gives me a little bit more stretch on that edge.  Working into a stitch gives an inelastic, stable edge.

So, what we’ve got so far is a chart and (hopefully) a swatch that looks like:

Row 4

Hey, we’re rattling along now aren’t we? Let’s see how good you’ve got.  I’m going to give you the chart for Row 4 – but I’m not going to give you the walk through just yet.

Have a look at it and see if you can work out what’s going on.  Feel free to try it if you want to, or you can wait for the walk through in the next part.

Chart so far - including our next row

3 thoughts on “Chart Reading 101 – part2

  1. So far this is the most descent chart tutorial I’ve seen and more I depth than most however I am looking front depth tutorials for experienced crocheters. I have been crocheting for a, long time but only written. I also know what all symbols mean. The issue I’m having is garment patterns specifically japanese. The wavy lines, dotted lines, numbers, the 4-5 diff schematics and 4 diff stitch diagrams and how to piece them all together is what’s stumping me:(

    • there is no set code and symbol across the world – so the Japanese sometimes “make up” their own symbols. Do you have a specific example you are struggling with for me to have a glance at to see if I can help?

  2. Pingback: Chart Reading 101 pages and a long commute | Tuesday Fortnite

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