I am so bad at keeping up with this blog. T____T
I have some posts from last year that I thought I scheduled, but apparently didn’t. They will be showing up eventually. I recently received a question though, and it’s re-inspired me to come back to this little venture. So maybe I will be better about posting in the future. No promises though.
Anyway, on to the question:
I so want to knit the Burridge Lake Aran Afghan, but I can’t even get past the directions. They are so confusing to me. I called in a seasoned knitter (even I have been knitting 50 years), but she too was baffled by the hard to figure out directions. I know there has to be an easier way to write directions for the pattern. Any suggestions would be appreciated. I have no problem with any of the stitches, but just can’t get how to read the directions. Help!
Boy do I feel your pain. Sometimes knitting feels like trying to decipher a dead language. I remember once as an exercise in elementary school where we had to write instructions for how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Easy right? You would be surprised. Everyone reads and interprets things differently, and the same goes for pattern writing.
I have answered the posters question directly, but I thought I would throw out some tips for everyone else.
1) Take your time with a pattern before you start. I know what it’s like to want to just dive right into that next great pattern, but sometimes, especially if the pattern is complicated it pays to just read the whole thing through and have an idea of what you are supposed to be doing before you start.
2) The wonders of the internet. Despite my age I am not always the biggest technology enthusiast, however one thing I love about the internet is that there are so many great videos about knitting floating around out there. I have yet to search for a knitting stitch and not find a visual aid to help me understand how a stitch is supposed to work. (Pssst, seriously check out the New Stitch a Day link in the sidebar. They demonstrate so many awesome and complex stitch patterns.) Not to mention you can also search for more technical knitting instructions, like “how to read a chart” or “how to fix a cable I screwed up 10 rows ago and I don’t want to rip it out.”
3) Decide ahead of time how perfectionist you want to be. This is always the most important part. I have to decide how much of a mistake I discovered 8 rows too late is going to bother me while I work on the finished project. Granted I have gotten very good at fixing mistakes by only ripping out small parts of a whole, but sometimes, you have to just plain start over….or on the flip side decide that the mistake is really just a beauty mark in your project and happily knit on. For big projects that are complicated I tend to lean more towards perfection, but sometimes depending on how much work it is going to be to fix the problem, I may just have to breathe in and like bad energy, let it go.
4) Sometimes you have to start small. I remember for instance the afghan pattern in question I had to start over a couple of times while I was figuring it out. At one point I worked on a couple of smaller projects that both involved cabling, and chart reading. When I came back to the afghan pattern, I was better equipped with the skills to tackle the complexity of what was being presented to me.
5) Sometimes you just have to wing it. Ooh, boy. Some people just don’t write very good instructions. And then they fail to give you lots of pictures for you to try to match. So then once you are more comfortable with what you can and can’t do, you just start making it up as you go along. For instance my Checks + Balances Sweater involved steeking the sleeves. (Steeking is a technique where you knit extra stitches into your knitting to later cut them apart, depending on the yarn you are using, it sometimes involves sewing some reinforcing lines before you cut.) I had never heard of steeking before, and the directions in the pattern where so mind boggling to me I decided to try to figure out how to knit each sleeve individually. It was not fun, and certainly not easy, but I ended up with an okay result that I was happy with.
I think this is one of the reasons I love knitting so much. I love the challenge presented to me with each new project, and I love that I am constantly acquiring new skills no matter how long I have been doing this. Always feel free to email me questions. I am happy to help.