Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Problem Solving in Knitting Patterns

Don't name the problem!

I know it sounds counter intuitive, but really, don't label a problem that you are trying to solve.

I spent a lot of time helping knitters with problems when knitting from patterns when I worked in my LYS. I quickly learned not to listen to them when they told me what the problem was. Whenever I did it slowed down the process of resolution because often they were wrong! That's why they couldn't figure it out for themselves. Naming the problem stopped them from looking at other details, and that was often where the error in the work was. I had a number of situations where the knitter said the problem was in a specific section of the instructions. Often when I went back to the beginning of the pattern and checked the work I found the error earlier on. By naming the problem the knitter stopped looking in the right place so they were completely unable to determine what was really going wrong. BTW, these were accomplished, smart knitters that just focused on the wrong thing for too long and that is why they needed assistance.


  1. Ok could you please help me with this then(I am using 105 sts):

    using 4mm needles cast on 67 [77:85:97:105] sts
    Work 4 [4:5:5:5]cm in 1x1 rib, ending with a rs row.
    Next Row, Rib 1 [11:9:12:8], * inc in next st, rib 3 [2:2:3:3], rep from * to last 2[12:10:13:9] sts, inc in next st, rib to end. 84 [96:108:116:128] sts. Change to 5mm needles and proceed as follow(this is where I can't get the stitches to match the last row 128, I think I get 121, 7 from total)
    1st Row, K5 [1:2:1:2], p0 [0:1:0:1], k0 [0:4:0:4], * pl, C4F, p1, k4 rep from * 1 [2:2:3:3] times, p1, C4F, p1, T2, p3, C4F, p4, C4F, p3, T2, * p1, C4B, p1, k4, rep from * 2[2:3:3:4] times, p0 [1:1:1:1], (C4B,p1)0{1:0:1:0] times, k1 [1:2:1:2].

    1. Check the abbreviations in the instructions as your first step. What did the designer intend you to do to create the increases. Substituting k1f&b throws off stitch counts if the increase was a m1 form. Use markers to assist in counting off the increases to make sure you are not losing track. The instructions say you start with 105 stitches and increase to 128. 23 inc. Work 8 sts at beg, each group of 3 sts is inc to 4 (22 times) 88 original sts becomes 110 sts. When you get to the last 9 sts there is one more inc to a total of 23 inc. 8 + 88 + 9 + 23 = 128

    2. Thanks for replying Robin the confusion lies in the first row and this is how I am calculating it: I count it like this K5 x 2 = 10 sts, p0 for 1 stitch (don't fully understand but) count it as 1, same goes for k0 but count it as 4 totaling 15 sts. Then 1 + 4 + 1 + 4 = 10 x 3 = 30, 40 if I don't count the first time round but I do and this gives 45 sts then 1 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 4 + 4 + 3 + 2 = 28 sts 28 + 30 = 58 sts then 1 + 4 + 1 + 4 = 10 x 4 = 40 sts, 58 + 40 sts = 98 sts. Then p0 1 times I guess at being 1 st + 4 + 1 no times equaling nothing then k1 x 2 = 2 sts I GET 101 sts a lot short of 128 sts. If I include the (C4B, p1) in brackets I get 107 sts which is considerably shorter than 128 sts. I know I am not adding it correctly could someone help calculate this correctly and describe the stitches that I am confusing. I am confused with the stitches outlined please forgive my ignorance. I have knitted an Aran before but I am still a newbie at knitting believe it or not.

    3. Your original note indicates the problem is in the "next row" not the "first row" with a seven stitch count difference???

      p0 means that instruction does not apply to your size. Counting it as a stitch will not work.

      Your K5 x 2 indicates you may be mixing up square and round brackets. One is for sizes the other is for number of times. However I see an error in bracket use and third bracket style being introduced. If that is in the original pattern and is not your error in retyping, I recommend that you check for errata on the original pattern.

  2. Can you please decipher this pattern instruction? 'Repeat neck decrease row (every 4 rows, then every 6 rows) 6 times' Does this mean decrease every 4 rows x 6 and then every 6 rows x 6 or every 4 and following two rows (making 6) x 6 times? Thank you so much.

    1. I can't answer that question with confidence because I have no idea what shape neckline you are trying to achieve or what your gauge is. Based on the brackets, it may mean alternating decreases every 4th then every 6th row 6 times for a total of 12 decreases. My guess is that it's either a short or a long V. Is there any indication in the next part of the pattern as to total decreases or the number of stitches remaining? Try looking at your schematic and comparing to the row gauge and shaping angle to work out which version makes the most sense.