Reading Charts

Counted canvas needlepoint is stitched from a chart starting from a blank canvas. So learning to read a chart and diagrams is essential!

Most counted canvas needlepoint charts include a master chart or overall graph. This is the roadmap for the project. A master chart shows every stitch used in the project in relation to the other stitches.

The master chart can be difficult to navigate if that was the only instruction for stitching. But most counted canvas projects include specific instructions, including where to start the project, such as 3″ from the upper left corner or in the center of the canvas. The grid lines on the chart represent the canvas threads, one line for each thread. Count the grid lines to see how many each stitch covers, then count the canvas threads to get the right stitch size.

Most of the time the charts will have graphic illustrations of each stitch, and you can see the different stitches on the master chart. The instructions will include a diagram of each stitch.

Generally the stitch diagrams are very detailed, with numbers at the ends of the stitches and arrows indicating stitch direction. If the diagram has odd numbers at one end of each stitch and even numbers at the other ends, bring the needle up at the odd numbers and down at the even numbers. If there is only one number at the end of a stitch, bring the needle up at the number and follow the direction of the arrow for where to end the stitch. The diagram is counted just like the master chart, one grid line for each canvas thread. Sometimes the diagrams include a representation of canvas threads, sometimes they don’t, but they are counted just the same – one line for each canvas thread.

For example, in this diagram the stitch covers four canvas threads vertically and four canvas threads horizontally. Bring the needle up at 1, count four canvas threads vertically and four horizontally, and put the needle down at 2. Follow the rest of the diagram until the stitch is complete.

You should be able to see on the master chart if the stitches share holes with each other or are separated by an empty canvas thread. In this example, the stitches share holes so that on the canvas the stitches cover the canvas with no empty threads.

In this example there is an empty canvas thread between one stitch and the other stitches.

With a little practice you’ll be able to interpret master charts and stitch diagrams with ease, until it becomes second nature when stitching counted canvas needlepoint.