Knitting help - using a pattern

I’ve been knitting for a few years now, but it’s all been simple patterns like 1x1 ribbing for a scarf or plain stockinette or garter stitch. So I’ve never needed to follow a written pattern. (But I’ve made some really neat scarves and shawls despite my pattern-less ways!)

Now I’d like to make this baby blanket, which will require following the pattern found at that link. It’s a 36-row pattern, repeated 6 times.

Do the more advanced knitters here have tips for remembering which row you’re on? Tricks for successfully staying on track? Thanks!

Are you using stitch markers? The simplest way to keep track of what row you’re on is with a piece of differently colored yarn. Just cut a short(~2 inch) piece and knit it into the stitch when you start a new row. Then you can count the rows since your last marker and know how many you’ve done. If your pattern is based on 36 rows, then I’d probably put one every six rows, so you don’t have a lot of rows to count any time. Once you have six pieces of yarn sticking out from your piece, it’s time to change the pattern. The yarn segments can be pulled out of the piece without much effort but should stay in unless pulled on.

To get fancy you could buy a bunch of stitch markers of various types(or get lots of little pieces of various colors of yarn) and assign each one to a particular row pattern. Print out your pattern and make notes(Row 1- Yellow Wool, row 2 Green Acrylic, etc.) When you start a row, you can look at the last marker and know what your next row is supposed to be. You can use stitch markers within a row too, to help you keep track of stitch counts.


I use a row counter.

They sell many different kinds, the one I linked to is what I have, you just click it at the end of a row and it keeps track, up to 99. If I’m working in a pattern that has a 6-row repeat, I’d do one repeat of 6 row, then reset the counter to zero for the next repeat.

I put a sticky note on my pattern and either write down the last row that I did or draw on arrow on the sticky note and move it to point at the row I will need to do next. Works pretty well as long as I can remember to do it…

I use a row counter too, but mine’s a tiny thing (look at the pony counter) that fits over the needle. When a pattern repeats across a row, I’ll put a stitch marker in between each section. That way, if I goof, it’s easy to count each stitch in a section and find the mistake, rather than going over every stitch on the needle.

I have a knitting notebook where I make a grid. For your pattern, where it’s a 36 row pattern, and you repeat that 36 row pattern 6 times, I’d make columns 1-36 and then rows 1-6. Then as I finish the first row of the first repeat, I make a mark in A-1. If I finished the 5th row of the 4th repeat, I make a mark in E4, to put it in Excel terms. :smiley: I make a mark for every single row I finish so my spreadsheet is completely filled up by the time I’m done.

If I have a shorter pattern and more repeats (so it’s the opposite of what you have to do), I’ll reverse the columns and rows and make the rows the pattern and the columns the repeat.

Here! I took a picture of what I do!

This was for a sweater that had a two row pattern. I did the back first. It had me do the back until 17.5", so I filled out the rows until it got to that length (that way, when I do the front, I can just have the same number of columns as for the back so I have the same length). When I had to do the decreases for the sleeves, you can see middle area. I have numbers above every other column. Those are the number of stitches that I’d need to have on my needles after the decrease row. I’d be able to keep count, not get wildly off track, and also figure out beforehand how many rows I’d have to do to decrease to the right amount.

Exactly what she said, including the stitch markers between sections of a pattern. 'Cept that my row counter only fits on teeny-tiny needles, so I’ve strung it on a loop of yarn to accommodate any size of needle I’m using.

I have round row counters, row counters for circular needles (which double as the stitch marker for the beginning of the round) and a clicking or “chicka-chicka” row counter. I have row counters that fit on small needles and row counters that fit on big needles. I have a bracelet that holds my yard and has, you guessed it, a row counter.

Use a row counter.

Thanks for all the ideas. And for the picture, zweisamkeit! Now I can’t wait to get started… it’s just too bad I’m at work and can’t go pick up my needles right now!

I think you’ll find that the pattern isn’t as complicated as it looks once you’ve got a good start on it. I like the “chika-chika” row counter, or just making hash marks on paper, as the round ones that fit on the needle feel a bit unbalanced to me. Just a preference.

But that pattern is a lot of repeat and will feel intuitive very soon, I think. You may well be able to tell pretty much where you are, by looking and counting just pattern stitches.

Have fun, and bring pictures when you’re finished.

Also, for those with ipod touches or iphones, I think the KnitBuddy is probably the most useful tool out there:

You can have multiple counters going at once and label them whatever you like. So I often have a mix of counters labeled “row/round,” “repeats,” “stitches” depending on what kind of pattern I’m doing.

I have copied and pasted chunks of my patterns into the notes field so I can just look up the instructions on the go if I need to, and I can track my needle and yarn inventory as well.

It’s so useful I no longer own any other row counter.

That is awesome.

I never before saw a real reason that I should own an iPod touch. Now I’m going to start wishing for my Nano to die so I have an excuse to get one.

Oooh… I haven’t gotten any apps for my iPhone yet. This may just be my first. :smiley:

A friend at work gave me a wonderful hint that saved my sanity when I made a very complex afghan. She suggested I write out the instructions for each row on its own index card. Then punch a hole in the cards and thread a sturdy cord or yarn or something in the hole and tie it. As you complete a row, flip to the next card.

I had a 30-row repeat times 10, and it was a piece of cake to keep track with the cards. Especially since this particular pattern was not easily memorized.

Moved MPSIMS --> Cafe Society, where many crafty sorts hang out.

You will be surprised how fast this happens and you recognize where you are in the pattern. I use row markers at first, but in a repetitive pattern such as this, you will become very familiar with it after a few iterations.

Enjoy! We’re all ready for the photos!

I agree. I love the point when, after a few repeats, I get the feel of a pattern and the way it moves. Looking at this pattern, I’ve a feeling you’ll get the hang of it very easily.

Row counters work very well for me. One of my current projects is Woolly Thoughts Rule of Three Afghan and even though it’s a simple pattern, I’m still using a row counter just to keep track of things. I’ve never used the chicka-chicka kind; I like the ones which fit on my needles because I’m less likely to lose them.

Good luck with the blanket!

That is a very excellent idea. I have the ability to remember a pattern like a gnat.

taxi78cab, that’s a very cute blanket.
Depending on how you see patterns, you may end up seeing it as only 18 rows and in some ways you’ll be able to just figure out what you do on the next row without actually looking at the pattern, because it suggests itself.
For something like this, I’d just count from the bottom of the diamond up to figure out which row is next.

I like the green sweater - where’s the pattern from?