I occasionally get knitters and crochets in the shop who tell me they can’t read patterns and others needing help to decipher the patterns they have.
They find the patterns very confusing, especially with the abbreviations used. Add to that the difference between UK and US terms and the water gets even muddier.
Reading a knitting pattern can seem daunting for beginners, but with a little practice and patience, it can be a fun and rewarding experience. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get started:
- Read the entire pattern, including the notes: Before diving into the pattern, read the notes carefully. This will give you important information about the yarn, needle size, gauge, and any special techniques required.
- Understand the abbreviations: Patterns use many abbreviations for different stitches and techniques. It’s important to familiarize yourself with these abbreviations before starting the pattern. And to determine, in crochet, if the pattern uses UK or US terms. Abbreviations are not universal adding to the confusion but a good pattern will list all abbreviations and what they mean, plus state the terms they are using.
- Follow the instructions: Patterns may have two sections – the “instructions” and the “chart.” The instructions will tell you what stitches to make in each row and where to place markers if necessary. The chart is a visual key to the pattern and should have a key clearly detailing which symbol is used for which stitches. If I’m struggling to focus or remember which rows I’m on I will place a sticky note under the row I’m working on and move it down as I work.
- Use the chart: Some patterns include a chart that visually represents each row. If your pattern has a chart, use it as a helpful visual aid to double-check your work. I find charts easier to read Han patterns, especially when working complicated lace patterns.
- Keep track of your progress: As you work, keep track of which row you’re on and mark it off on the pattern or chart. This will help you stay organized and avoid making mistakes. As in tip 3, I use a sticky note and can write on this to keep track. Another option is to copy the pattern and use a highlighter or pen to make rows or keep count of repeats. This avoids writing on the pattern you may wish to use again.
- Take it slow: Knitting is a skill that takes time to develop, so don’t rush through the pattern. Take breaks as needed and don’t be afraid to ask for help from more experienced knitters. The bonus of supporting your local yarn shop is it is staffed by knitters and crocheters who will be able to help. Don’t be shy to ask, we love to help those who support our little businesses. If the help needed takes a little longer you may be able to book a one to one lesson at a time that suits you both.
Remember, reading a pattern is just one part of knitting and crocheting. Enjoy the process and don’t be afraid to experiment with colours, yarns, and stitches to create your own unique projects.
The only difference between a beginner and experienced yarn crafter is that experienced knitters have made more mistakes!