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Knitting Tip: Understanding Knitting Patterns

At KnittingGuru I make every effort to make my patterns self-explanatory. My goal is for them to be Teaching Patterns. This is why I have chosen to make kits with the pattern and yarn included so that the items will turn out just right!

This is not the case with every pattern you will encounter. In fact, beginners often experience great frustration when using commercial patterns as well as patterns obtained on the internet. While there are many companies that are extremely careful about proofing their patterns, lots of patterns are written with less precision and aren't always tested to see that they are correct. An understanding of pattern formats and abbreviations is a help to both new and experienced knitters. Some considerations include:

  • Knowing the Pattern Skill Level

  • Understanding Abbreviations

  • Reading instructions

    The most important thing is to read through the whole pattern before beginning to knit. This will cut down on surprizes later.

    You will be given directions for each pattern piece: front, back, sleeves, neckline treatment, buttonhole bands, pockets, etc. Many patterns in knitting magazines and books have limited space and therefore abbreviate directions with statements such as "make left side to match, reversing shaping" for a cardigan front.

    Both beginners and intermediate knitters are well advised to write out the reverse shaping before trying to knit the piece. It's too frustrating to be translating and reversing while you are knitting.

    You also want to consult a good knitting book to learn a technique before you experiment with it on a new sweater. Please check back next week for a helpful bibliography of recommended knitting books in our Knitting Tips from the Guru.