When you purchase a pattern and yarn, arrive home and get ready to start the process of knitting the first thing to do is to read through the pattern. Actually, when you are still at the shop, make sure you ask the owner or sales person if there have been any corrections to the pattern or if customers have noticed any problems with the pattern. If you are new to knitting you might want to take the time to read the pattern while at the shop you purchased it at, so that if there are instructions that are not clear the staff at the shop can explain them to you. When you arrive home check the pattern publisher’s website to see if they have posted any corrections to the pattern.
Back to reading the pattern, I make a copy of the pattern and highlight the size I am planning to make. I compare the finished size of the project with a garment or two of my own that fits the way I like it to fit. On the pattern I also highlight or make a mark anywhere in the pattern when the pattern states something similar to, “Start decreasing here by… and AT THE SAME TIME decrease...at the neck edge.” You can’t believe how often you see the instruction and follow that, only to realize a simultaneous action was to be made 10 rows back!
Some pattern makers used to be notorious for not making sure the pattern was correct, but with the Internet pattern mistakes are generally found and communicated so that unwary knitters are lucky enough to benefit from someone else’s wisdom. Patterns are supposed to be the road map of the project and as a map they should be clear and contain all of the information you need to complete the project. In a well written pattern you should find a list of materials needed, the type of yarn recommended, the size of the needles used, and what gauge the knitter should achieve and whether to knit the gauge swatch as a stockinette square or in the pattern of the project. In addition, the pattern should list the definitions of the abbreviations used and any other information specific to the project, such as the stitch pattern to knit, charts, and finishing instructions.
Just be sure to read the pattern through before you start your project so that you get an idea of where the designer is taking you. It will save you time in the long run. And remember if you are having problems with your pattern you are welcome to ask a question or ten in the Knitting Forum here at BellaOnline.