Once you have decided on a knitting pattern, here is some advice on how to follow a knitting pattern, or how to read a knitting pattern for the best results.
Before You Start To Knit
Before you start to even think about the knitting part, make sure you buy yarn closest to the one recommended in the pattern for the best results. If you cannot get the same name, then you need to make sure that the yarn is the same thickness.
The sales staff in knitting shops are usually very knowledgeable about these things, and they should be able to tell you what will work and what yarn to avoid.
Very important, always buy two extra balls of yarn, as there is nothing worse than running out of yarn, and then you can’t get exactly the same colour. The next dye lot always seems to be a shade lighter or darker.
Next, make sure you get the proper sized knitting needles. This could be anything from a skinny 000 to a very thick 50. If this is your first project then I recommend you go with something you can make with thicker needles as it will go faster, and thus give you a sense of achievement when you complete your project quickly.
The old knitting needle sizes go from thickest 1 to thinnest 12 or 13. If you do have a bunch of old sized knitting needles, you can save money by buying a ruler like knitting needle gauge. This will enable you to measure the needle size and you will be able to see if you have the right size for the pattern you want to follow.
You even get gauges in the shape of animals nowadays, like this cute one below.
Above, you will see some really good quality bamboo knitting needles which are very popular at the moment, because they are lightweight, durable, mildew proof and easy to knit with. These are excellent knitting needles for beginners to start off with.
The entire set above is selling for $8.49 at the time of writing this post. Click on the pic to find out more.
It is imperative that you use the correct yarn and correct sized knitting needle that the pattern states, or your garment will either be to big or too small for you.
It is a good idea to knit a gauge swatch quickly before you begin to knit your pattern. This will ensure that you have chosen the correct needle size and yarn, and that you are knitting to the correct tension for the pattern you are following.
How to Make A Gauge Swatch
Start by casting on the number of stitches that the pattern designer intends you to have within four inches, and then add six more stitches so that you have a three stitch garter stitch border on each side to frame the area you want to measure.
Knit a four inch square in the same pattern that you will be knitting your garment.
See if the gauge measurement on the pattern is intended for pre-washed or post-washed fabric. Some yarns will shrink when washed so wash your swatch the same way you will wash your finished item.
Next you will have to pin your square swatch down without stretching it to measure it. The area between the garter stitch border should measure 4 x 4 inches. Count the v’s in the stocking stitch across for the stitches and down for the rows.
If the size of the swatch doesn’t match what the pattern recommends, then you will need to experiment with a bigger or smaller needle size. If you need more stitches or rows per inch, use smaller needles and if you use less use bigger needles.
Keep testing until your work matches up. This is a bit time consuming, but if your are using the correct needles and yarn then your work should match up first time around.
You obviously don’t need to do the above if you are knitting a simple scarf or a blanket.
How To Read A Knitting Pattern
Let’s Start Knitting
If you are knitting a pattern, it helps to use a ruler on your pattern to help you follow the rows that you are knitting, and not get confused with the one above or below. Tick off with a pencil as you go along, so that you know what you have done.
How To Follow a Knitting Pattern
At first, a knitting pattern will look very strange to you, as you will see lots of symbols and abbreviations that will confuse you, but once you get used to it, it is a piece of cake.
Click here to see a knitting dictionary of the most popular abbreviations that are used in knitting patterns. Each abbreviation and stitch will be explained.
In most cases, the pattern will have a list of the abbreviated terms relating to the pattern included at the beginning or the end of the pattern, which makes how to follow a knitting pattern a lot easier.
Here is an example of how to read a knitting pattern.
If your pattern says says:
Row 1: K5, P5, then you need to knit five stitches and then purl five stitches on your first row.
Knit and purl stitches are the most commonly used knitting stitches, and are used in most patterns. Always start with simpler patterns, and as you get more confident in how to follow a knitting pattern, then you can go more complex.
If the knitting pattern has a diagram like this one below, then it means you will have to follow the pattern row by row knitting with the colours indicated on the pattern.
As you will notice, each row is marked up the side, so this pattern is done over 46 rows and each stitch number is marked at the bottom so that you know where you are
So as you can see the picture only starts on row 4 where you will see you have to knit a couple of stitches in green for the end of the stem. As you get deeper into the pattern, then you add more colours as the row dictates.
When I use a pattern like this one, I normally photostat it bigger so I can see it better and then I colour in each row as I complete it.
Please comment below if you have any questions on how to read a knitting pattern.
If you are looking for an easy knitting pattern, here is a good one to knit a coat hanger cover.