Knitting charts look much like something spit out by a spreadsheet program. They are a section of a pattern depicted graphically rather than in words, and can be very useful when you are showing color changes (like in fair isle) or texture changes (like the one pictured here).
Following the number sequence, you’ll notice that it’s read right to left and bottom to top. That’s because it mirrors the way you knit: the first stitch in a row is on the right side, and the last one is on the left. You start with your first row and the second row is on top of that, and so on.
Each square in the chart represents a stitch. The key tells you what to do with each stitch.
In this example, we start with row 1 and work right to left. The first box matches the knit box in the key, so it’s two knit stitches followed by two of the boxes with a circle in them: purls according to the chart. So, it’s knit two, purl two in the first row.
The next row is the same, and this holds true whether you are working flat or in the round. Start on the right side and work to the left, as this will mirror your knitting progress.
Row 3 has 2 purls and then 2 knits. The same for row 4.
Notice I’m saying row, but that’s referring to the chart row. You could be working this pattern in the round. You have to get that information from the rest of your project’s pattern!