Knitting from a complex lace chart: how to stay on track?

Hi, I’m trying to knit Oscar, by Steve Rousseau. The chart is 141 stitches long. One overall pattern. I’ve already ripped it entirely out after 30 rows when I noticed I had messed up the chart. How on earth can I keep track of this? There’s got to be an easier way than staring beady-eyed at my KnitCompanion app.

What a beautiful pattern! But such a lot to keep track of.

Just an idea or two, assuming that wrong side rows are simple:

Learn to “read” your previous right side row in your knitted work. The YO’s follow a diagonal progression that informs the current row. Similarly, decreases are usually slanted in a logically predictable direction.

Use repositionable markers to mark beginnings of key rows. They can also be used for counting rows or repeats.

Mistakes will happen. Often it is possible to drop a stitch or two vertically to correct them. If not, it might be camouflaged, compensated for, or just accepted as proof of handwork. What won’t work is to knit away without consideration to its impact on your results.


I use a ribbon which has two long, thin strip magnets glued onto it. You fold it around the edge of the pattern and it holds your place. I put the pattern into a plastic sleeve and then attach the ribbon marker. I bought it for $12 at my LYS, but one could easily make one. Sticky notes stuck on the plasctic sleeve are good too. I like Crazy Marie Fischer lace patterns and you have to do something or you’ll go crazy.
Julie in San Diego

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Magnets or sticky notes - the longer, the better. I sometimes use those magnetic bookmarks and place them along the spot on the chart. You can also buy a long coil of a magnetic strip at craft stores, but them to the length of your chart and make them pretty with some ribbon glued on. You can also get a chart holder (they sell them usually for embroidery purposes) and they come with long-ish magnets on them. It all depends on how you are sitting when you are knitting and how you want your pattern to be displayed.

And stitch markers plus the ability to read your knitting - are your friends. If the pattern is really getting to you, check every other row or so; and if you are really afraid, add a lifeline.

Plus, don’t knit at night when tired! I am sure 99.9 percent of lace mistakes are made when one is tired (ask me how I know …). Hope this helps.


And I’ve encountered patterns with multiple charts that are not printed in R to L order, the way we knit. I cut and paste.

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I also count stitches a lot, section by section, until I get a feel for the pattern, and I look at my knitting a lot.
This pattern is geometrical (and very beautiful!!), and the lines of YOs are evenly spaced, so counting repeats and stitches out loud might help!
Ripping 30 rows must have hurt…

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I use Knit Companion as well. I found if you make judicious use of many markers to delineate pattern repeats or convenient breaks, it makes counting easier. In KC, you can place horizontal lines to duplicate the markers. As has been mentioned previously, looking at the row you just worked to make sure everything matches up. Placing a life line after an important segment as well. Have fun. Hope these things help. Ripping out that many rows of lace knitting could drive one to drink heavily LOL.


I bought a metal chart holder that come with Lon magnets to stay on the row. You can also do this with a cookie sheet and fridge magnets. I also use stitch markers for repeats but sounds like that might not help you too much.

It’ll be gorgeous!

I do have a holder with magnets, but my paper pattern was getting really beat up and the magnets were getting lost so I got KnitCompanion. The other one is great for projects I’m planning on finishing in less than a year, haha.

Yeah this is what I’m beginning to learn to do, look for the pattern. It’s easier to see the pattern of the work now that I’m more than a few rows in (again).

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Haha, yes, this is definitely a project I don’t do after drinking or in times of stress. I’m learning to put more markers in. I thought I could only use markers to separate pattern repeats, and since it’s only one large pattern, somehow I thought I couldn’t use markers.

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As someone who is also very devoted to my device for knitting (I use Dropbox for PDFs and then organize everything in Evernote), I can say unequivocally that some projects just require paper. /:-\

I’m working the Water Lilies Stole right now in Knit Picks Aloft, and with the brushed yarn there is no room for error. I’ve switched from the PDF to paper; I’m using highlighter tape on the chart, and a row-counter and lots of stitch-markers on the needles to keep track of everything. Also, I never start a row I can’t finish in that sitting, then when I put it down I take a quick note jotted on a post-it about where I am and what comes next.

It’s laborious work, but it will be so worth it when I hear the gasps after revealing I knit it myself! :wink:


I have been using highlighter tape (available at a few yarn shops, most office supply stores, and Amazon) for several years now. It is absolutely invaluable for working on complex charts. You can see through it, which for me is an advantage over the magnetic strips. It also uses Post-It type glue so you can reposition it a lot.

I was a test knitter for the Murron Shawl which had multiple charts that were repeated 2 or more times across each row (plus they had different numbers of rows in each vertical repeat). It was well worth it for the final result, but I never would have gotten through it without my tape.


Yes, that certainly looks like a challenging pattern to keep track of, although it is essentially just a sequence of YOs and decreases.
Re-doing those rows may have felt painful, but you will have a much clearer idea of the pattern now.
I like to knit complex lace from charts, but I keep it low-tech. I use either the pattern itself or a photocopy. I use a postcard and paperclip it to the chart, just above the row to be worked. I tick off each row as I do it to avoid any doubt.

Someone above suggested doing your counting out loud as you go. I find that this adds to the meditative quality of knitting complex pieces. Good luck.


Since there are lots of good suggestions for tracking rows, maybe to track where you are on a particular row you could divide the row into groups of stitches (maybe they’re obvious, maybe not) and then use different colored highlighters or pencils to distinguish the groups. That way your eye will track through the color groups? (Does this make sense?)

The other thing I’ve done that helps a bit, is to enlarge the chart so you’re not looking at tiny little boxes.


I am always gratified that it’s possible to start again with the same materials after a mistake in knitting. I learned sewing first and ruined many yards of fabric. You’re right, I do understand the pattern better. I actually rip often and consider it part of the process, not a disaster.


Many hours, maybe a day after I gave my trick, I realized that in fact most of the time (i.e. Virtually all the time since the magnetic board is being used by a WIP, which I refuse to acknowledge is really a UFO, hence no magnetic board for years --why can’t i Be stubborn in more productive ways, for example finishing the WIO/UFO???

Anywho, It turns out the method I seem to like most is just a piece of paper attached to the pattern np y 2 paper clips, which I move up row by row. I prefer this to the post-it method because it never loses its “stick” amd it’s virtually always big enough. I also may write little notes right there at the edge to remind me of mods I made or things I keep forgetting,

I also tend to knit in bed or in other situations/positions where inelastic full page metal just isn’t a viable option.