How to create a knitting chart

Updated April 17, 2017

Design your own patterns by creating your own knitting chart. Knitting charts are used in colorwork, as well as lace and cable designs. All you need is graph paper! You can design your knitting chart using your computer or by hand. Knitting chart generator sites and software can make an easy job of it (if you are so inclined, websites offering these services for free are listed under "Resources"), but you can just as easily do it yourself with a little work and a spreadsheet program or pencil.

The first step in creating a knitting chart pattern is to get your graph paper ready. You can use normal graph paper but your knitting will appear more condensed because knitting stitches tend to be wider than they are long. To remedy this, you can use graph paper designed specifically for knitting (download your own for free using the link under "Resources") or by making your own.

Make your own knitting graph paper using a spreadsheet program, like Excel or Numbers, by changing the height and width of the cells. Just click in the upper right corner of the graph or use the "Select All" function to select the entire chart.

Format the spreadsheet cells. Select "Format" from the menu, and click on "Select Width"; a setting of 9 points or 12 pixels is good, although any size will do. Next, click on "Select Height" and set the height a little smaller than the width, using a setting of 7 or 8 points. Use whatever scale suits your knitting best.

At this point, your entire spreadsheet will look like graph paper. Select the cells you will use in your chart, and apply borders to those cells so that when you print your work or colour it in, it will be easy to see where your design starts and ends.

Print the spreadsheet to draw your design by hand, or work your design within the program.

At its most simple, you can create a colorwork pattern by printing an image onto knitting graph paper, but this method has obvious disadvantages. For instance, you could have more than one colour in a given block. You will get a much better result by creating your design anew, either by using an image conversion product, like the free one listed under "Resources" or by drawing your own.

Draw your design by selecting the cells you want and using the "Fill Color" function. Choose a colour that best resembles the colour yarn you intend to use on the knitted project.

Repeat this for each different colour you want to use in your design.

If you are making a cable or lacework pattern, you will not generally need to worry with colour (although you could still make a colorwork cable or lace pattern), but you will have to use symbols to demonstrate what stitches you want. You can use established symbols or create your own. However, if you use established symbols, other readers of your pattern may find it easier to use your chart.

Insert a small chart key explaining the symbols used in your pattern. This will help you as you design your work and will act as a guide to the stitch symbols for the reader later.

Number your chart the way you design it; clearly show in what direction the reader should knit to avoid confusion. For instance, if your pattern should be knit from the bottom, up, your bottommost row will be numbered "1." Do just the opposite for top, down knitting.


Knitting graph paper has rectangles instead of squares to better resemble the shape knitting stitches take. If designing by hand, print your grid onto tracing paper. This way, you can place it over the motif or image you want and use it as a guide in your design. Make a photocopy of the finished design for a sturdier chart. Using established symbols will make it easier for other people to use your design. Using different fill colours for your right-side and wrong-side rows may make it easier to read your lace or cable knitting chart. Save the knitting graph paper you create to use as a template for future designs.


Do not use traditional graph paper or your design will turn out more condensed than you planned because knit stitches tend to be wider than they are tall. Save your work early and often!

Things You'll Need

  • Knitting graph paper
  • Tracing paper
  • Computer
  • Spreadsheet software (e.g. Excel, Numbers)
  • Pencil
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Renee O'Farrell is a freelance writer providing valuable tips and advice for people looking for ways to save money, as well as information on how to create, re-purpose and reinvent everyday items. Her articles offer money-saving tips and valuable insight on typically confusing topics. O'Farrell is a member of the National Press Club and holds advanced degrees in business, financial management, psychology and sociology.