Knitting Patterns: To Read or Not to Read?

Yep, I’m the new girl here. It’s my first week on the job in the Loveland office, and what do I find? A pile of books sitting on the desk. Of course, they’re piled according to size and there at the top sits this little very bright green book of cartoonsIt Itches, by Franklin Habit. I’m really not a big cartoon kind of person, but I it’s so cute I have to flip through it. And what do I find? Appropriate KD content that is directly related to the post I was writing today! So I’m sharing two of Franklin’s cartoons because they are just too darn close to my experiences with today’s subject: Reading Ahead.

This was my process during the first year or so of my knitting career:

1. Choose a project.
2. Buy yarn, needles, etc.
3. Read the first line of the pattern.
4. Start knitting.

Although there are several problems with this process, the one I’m going to focus on is step 3.

Sometimes when learning how to knit we’re so excited about a new project that we dive right in and start knitting without reading through the pattern. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten to a point in the pattern and realized I needed to rip back because I didn’t read what was coming next, or because there was some information hidden in the pattern in a place I didn’t expect, or I thought I knew what kind of decrease to do but as it turned out, I didn’t.

And let’s face it, not all patterns are created equally and even the seemingly easy knitting patterns can hold some surprises. Designers have their own, unique methods of imparting information (which is part of the fun of knitting from a variety of designers’ patterns). One time when I was knitting a pair of socks, I came across a line that said something like “if you’re doing a larger size, add one or two stitches between each lace section of each line of the chart.” This was on PAGE 3 of the pattern. That’s right. Page 3. So, I had to rip out to the toe. Sad for me!

Lesson learned, though. I’ve changed my process to include reading through the entire pattern before I start knitting. I don’t read word for word, I skim the pattern looking for key items like “AT THE SAME TIME” or “if you’re knitting size L or XL” or “place X number of stitches on a holder,” and while I’m at it I make sure I know what the heck the designer means when he or she says SKP or PSSO.

This has saved me from the frog pond so many times; it’s worth it to spend that extra five or seven minutes reading. Let’s make it a Knitting Daily standard practice: READ BEFORE YOU KNIT!

So that’s my post for today and I’m quickly packing my bags to wing back home. But I grabbed It Itches off the desk and shoved it into my purse (I think it was meant for me to keep. . .) because it’s perfect plane reading. And I’m hoping that my seat partner just might ask me why I’m laughing out loud so I can share some of It Itches with her or him. Grab a copy for yourself–it’ a great hook to introduce someone to our wacky sense of fiber humor.

(Oh, and in case you were wondering, I’ve also added the gauge swatch to my process, but that’s another topic.)

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