How to Read Knitting Charts for the Odora Shawl

We’re chugging away on our Odora Shawl KAL! For anyone who is knitting with us but is new to lace knitting, you might have some questions about the chart repeat section that shows up on Chart 2. Understanding knitting charts can be really easy once you understand the mechanics, so let’s take a look at part of Chart 2 so we can understand how everything’s working.

Chart 1 is straightforward and simple—you work the stitches as presented beginning with Row 1. Because Odora is knit flat, you would read Row 1 of the chart from Right to Left; then, Row 2 would be read from Left to Right. You’ll quickly realize that all even rows, which are also the wrong-side rows, are simply knit across the whole row. So at that point you can sort of ignore the even rows and just concentrate on the odd-numbered rows, which will all be read from Right to Left.

Chart 2 works in a similar way—begin with Row 1, working from Right to Left, then work Row 2 from Left to Right. All even-numbered rows in Chart 2 are also knit, so you’ll be able to skip over reading them. The trick to Chart 2 comes in the center section repeat, which is offset by red vertical lines; see below.

Odora Chart Sample

Those red lines outline the chart repeat section, which is explained in the chart notes. The notes say to work Rows 1–60 once, meaning you’ll knit from the bottom of the chart to the top of the chart one time, and in that pass of Chart 2, you’ll knit the section between B and C three times total. Let’s break it down.

Remember that you’re always knitting the first three and last three stitches of the shawl in garter stitch to form the top edge—those stitches are not included on the chart. Then, beginning with the A section on the right side of the work, you’ll work to the C line—in other words, you’ll knit the 3 edge stitches, then knit into the front and back of a stitch, knit 5 stitches to the B line, then continue by knitting 15 stitches to the C line. That’s the first repeat between B and C completed. You’ll knit the second repeat of B to C, which means you’ll knit another 15 stitches. Then you’ll work one more repeat of B to C, for 15 more stitches. After that, you’ll work C to D—knit five stitches, then knit into the front and back of the last stitch.

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All of that knitting is for one half of the shawl—you’ll then repeat the whole process starting at A, knitting into the front and back of the stitch, knit 5 stitches to B line, and so on, ending with the knit into the front and back of the stitch at D, and then knitting the last three edge stitches.

The Chart notes go on to say that you’ll work Rows 1–60 again to form the bottom border of the shawl, and work the repeat from B to C 7 times. I find that it can be really helpful to use stitch markers to separate the repeat sections, so I can easily see them. Since I’m only about a quarter into my first pass of Chart 2, I have one marker at the far right for the first section (A to B; the light pink marker), one marker for the first B to C section (light pink to green marker), one marker for the second B to C section (green to green marker), and one marker for the last B to C section (green to purple marker). The green marker at the far left is to mark the center of the shawl, so it’s right at the left end of the chart, after D. When I get to the second pass of Chart 2 with it’s 7 repeats of B to C, I’ll even more markers showing where the repeats live. IMG_1865

Do you have any tips for working stitch repeats? I’d love to hear them and share with with other knitters! Leave your tips in the comments below.


5 thoughts on “How to Read Knitting Charts for the Odora Shawl

  1. I am doing as you do, using stitch markers. It really helps. I am so excited when I get to the next marker and I have just the right number of stitches.😊

  2. I’m not a visual person and find that I just can’t do charts larger than about 20-30 wide. I can’t even write them out, as I still get lost. Love doing lace, but am doing old patterns. Stopped subscribing to knitting magazines or buying books because I can’t do the patterns I like.

    1. New to this blog, but I love lace. Charts can be difficult but I do several things to help make chart knitting easier. First I scan them and blow them up larger so my eyes are not straining so much. I use multiple stitch markers in different colors to mark the beginning and end of sections or repeats. Generally I do my chart knitting in one place (in my smaller recliner with a TV tray stand in front of me. I don’t travel with my lace projects. I have a good light next to me and purchased a standing clipboard that goes on the TV tray stand that also has a clip on the side with a bar over the chart that isolates the row I am working on. Much easier to follow and keep track. My biggest difficulty is that the cat often decides to sit in front of the chart and must be gently moved out of the way. Hope maybe this helps you do some of the lace you love. Marge

  3. How do you recommend handling a lining for a lace pattern that shows a lot of what’s underneath. Do you recommend an attached lining or a separate camisole? If attached, where should it be tacked to the garment?

    1. Hi Jane,

      I suppose a lot of it has to do with personal preference. I would wear a lacy top with a camisole underneath it, and I would probably avoid a camisole that’s the same color as my skin but that’s because I like contrast colors. That way it’d be easy to care for the knitted piece without having to worry about tacked stitches pulling anything strangely, and I could wear it in a variety of ways (over a dress, maybe, or with differently colored camisoles).

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