Tutorial: How I make my knitting charts for lace

Filed under: Knitting,Tutorial — June 11, 2009 @ 9:25 pm

So, a couple weeks ago I showed a glimpse of the knitting chart I was working on. I finally took the time to make a little tutorial and explain the way I did it. I hope it’s clear enough, or feel free to ask your questions ! (Click for larger pics !!)

This one will be the lace pattern used in the Isabeau purse pattern.

I start with creating a table in an Excell-type software (Im using the freeware OpenOffice Calc, here with a french version).
First, select all the area of your future chart, go to format/columns/width and decrease the witdth of the columns (I chose 0,53 cm) to create nearly-square cells.
Select the area of your future chart, color it in a light color of you choice. Then one by one, color every second row in a slightly different color: this will help differentiate the Right side and wrong side rows. That’s especially usefull when for some lace patterns where the WS rows are simply purled.
Number the rows and stitches, starting at bottom right corner of chart. One tip to avoid writing the numbers one by one: write the first 2 numbers on left side of row, select those 2 cells and stretch until right end of row: all the following numbers will magically appear… :-)

Then the “real work” starts. I like to enlarge one of the columns on the right, to write down the legend (at least so I don’t make mistakes while writing the chart).
I’m using the basic keys to make my symbols: slash/ anti-slash, “o” (the letter works better than the number for me), -, etc… On other charts, I added a few abbreviations when I needed special symbols (like d2 for a double decrease..) and I figure that if needed I could replace those with custom symbols during the last stage of the process.
Then I copy the “repeat” of my lace pattern below, in another colored area. This is especially usefull when I’m using several lace patterns. This way I can just copy and paste each in its right place.
Copy/paste, copy/paste, copy/paste… Fill in your chart.

The chart is nearly ready. I “center” the content in each cell of the chart. You can also select all the chart and go back to a white background if you wish a “cleaner” look.

Finally, take a screenshot (there should be a special key for that on your keyboard) and paste in a picture editing software (photoshop, Fireworks..).

You can now cut exactly the size of your chart, and turn it into a nice .jpg format, which can then be inserted in your pdf patterns…
At this stage, it would be easy to replace any abbreviation in your chart by a custom little symbol if you wish (not shown)… :-D


  1. Kathleen:

    That’s amazing. Thanks!!! I’ve been doing mine in CorelDraw but your way is tempting….

  2. eline:


    I found this very useful and thank you for taking the time to write down what you did! It is just the type of information that saves me lots of time!

    Thanks again!


  3. Rachel:

    Thanks! I didn’t think of using excel, that’s very nice.

    If you have any coding skills, Perl is a fantastic tool for this job, and it saves you a lot of time when typing in all those symbols. My script regexes through something like this:

    Rnd 25: k5, k2tog, k7, k2tog, k4, ssk, k7, ssk, k5 (32 sts)

    and converts it to this:

    Rnd 25: ||-----|/----|---/-|---\-|-----|-\---|--|| (32 sts)

    I usually have to correct a few things at the end, but it works pretty well. It’s not a difficult thing if you know Perl and a bit about regexing.

    I use the symbols you do, and % for kfb (it looks like what you do! kinda.) and + for m1.

  4. How-To: Make Lace Knitting Charts | The Embroidery Stitch:

    […] at Chez Plum shows you how to make your own lace knitting charts using software like Excel. Read this article | Comment on this article […]

  5. KnitSpirit:

    Funny thing: I do exactly the same thing when I have to create a pattern! It’s nice to see that I’m not the only one using OpenOffice Calc!
    Thanks for those explanations!

  6. Jane Ennis:

    Thankyou…this is wonderful, so useful!

  7. Clip:

    WOOW that is intresting .Nice tutorial

  8. Red Sewing Box:

    Thanks for sharing this knit tutorial, very much appreciated.

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    […] How I make my knitting charts for lace […]

  10. Michelle:

    All charts I have seen, are read and numbered from the bottom up, not the other way around. Doesn’t that confuse the knitter?

  11. Administrator:

    Oh yes you’re right !! I didn’t pay attention but sure, it should be numbered the other way round !! My mistake :-P

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