At The Same Time: Following Pattern Instructions in the Pintuck Cardigan Knit-Along

There is a really nifty instruction that pops up in some knitting patterns that goes like this: “At the same time, . . .” This phrase can be confusing or thrilling, depending upon what kind of knitter you are. Personally, it made a pattern that was perfectly clear turn my brain to mush in an instant. But once I stepped back and looked at the bigger picture of the purpose of the instruction, I was able to figure out how I would keep track of my rows, in order to accomplish multiple things at the same time.

All this phrase means is that you have to follow multiple instructions at once, which we do all the time in knitting. It’s an alternative to the line-by-line instruction format, which takes up much more space (especially if there are several sizes), and makes it difficult to isolate the individual elements of the pattern instructions. For instance, you might be working two different sets of decrease rows that occur at varying row intervals. Rather than explain this line-by-line, or try to jam it into one instruction, this magical phrase separates the steps so you can better understand what exactly is happening as you knit your garment. As a result, customization becomes much easier. Because it makes evident the multiple steps that are going on, you can easily adjust just one aspect if you wish to, whereas in the line-by-line instruction the different elements can get lost. It is also very useful in grabbing your attention, so you don’t knit that one set of decrease rows, then move on to find out you should have been doing some other stuff at the same time.

At the same time happened to me while knitting the body of Bristol Ivy's Pintuck Cardigan for the knit-along. We see this pattern instruction just a few rows in. And once the knit-along forum went live, I could see I wasn’t the only knitter who had some trouble with this at first. We’re supposed to be juggling the side and back dart decrease rows, which happen at different intervals, as well as add a few stitches to the fancy Pintuck stitch pattern that we see on the front sides of the cardigan. . . at a different row interval. Just how are we supposed to keep track of all this? In my mind, every time I saw At the same time, I pictured its instruction as a new column. I took that image in my mind and put it on paper to help me follow along. 

Here's a picture of how I tackled this:

Essentially I made a column for each different type of row I needed to pay attention to throughout knitting the body: the side dart decreases, the back dart decreases, and additional Pintuck rows. You can see I have another column started on the bottom, for the back dart increase rows, which begin in the middle of all this business after the back dart decrease rows are finished. My total row tallies are there at the top, then I have tallies for each time I completed a decrease or additional Pintuck row. I wrote out the number of the rows on which these instructions would occur, and I crossed out the number when I completed that row (my row numbers started at 1 from the beginning point of these sets of instructions). This method kept me pretty sane and I didn't lose my way too much. It isn't pretty, but it made sense to me and kept me organized.

Others participating in the knit-along came up with their own ways to keep track. One knitter used a spreadsheet on the computer and wrote out instructions for every single row. I am a fan of having the physical pattern on paper to take with me (I don’t have a tablet or laptop) and marking the old school tally right onto the pattern or in my knitting notebook. The key is finding a method that caters to you and your own learning style. If you can keep track of all of this in your head – more power to you! 

Do you already have a method of keeping track of stuff like this when you are knitting patterns that need a little expanding in order to follow? We'd love you to share your tried and true methods and/or ideas!

If you are interested in knitting the Pintuck Cardigan, join our KAL! The final deadline is mid-January, so if you start soon, you won't be too far behind! It's a fun knit and really lovely finished garment that can be dressed up or worn casually. And there are still copies of knit.purl – get yours today!

Happy knitting, friends!

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