I knit a lot. Through work meetings, while watching TV at night. I love to knit sweaters for myself, which can be complicated projects, and I like to do so when my attention is divided. To keep projects going smoothly, I make sure that I have things well organized and prepped so I can pick up and put down the knitting without skipping a stitch. Just as I’ve developed tips while needlepointing, I’ve put together some of my knitting strategies that help me knit great projects.
1) Photocopy your pattern. While there are a plethora of awesome options for patterns available digitally, I still like collecting knitting books and magazines for inspiration. When I find a pattern in a magazine that I want to knit, I make a photocopy so that I can feel okay writing all over it and stuffing it into my knitting bag without worrying about marring the book or magazine itself.
2) Highlight your pattern. On multi-sized patterns, I always go through and highlight the instructions for the size that I am knitting. Even if I’m knitting the smallest or largest size, I still go through and highlight because I’m usually working on multiple projects and if I set one down, I don’t have to think about which size to use when I pick it up again. I also don’t have to worry about mis-reading as I go.
3) Swatch! Okay, I know everybody always tells you to do this, but it’s true. I resisted for the longest time, but making sure that you’re on gauge can save endless headaches later (trust me on this one. I’ve learned it the hard way more times than I want to admit). It has the added benefit of allowing you to see your yarn knit in the pattern to make sure that you like it before you’re 6″ into a sweater. If you’re short on yarn, you can always rip out the swatch and use it on the body of your project, but an ideal swatch is also washed and blocked and you wouldn’t want to reuse it then.
4) Read your whole pattern and draw out a schematic of it. By reading the whole pattern you can be sure you won’t encounter any surprises later. I then draw out a little schematic of each piece of the pattern. Often, especially with sweater patterns, you’ll have a lot of “at the same time”s going on, as you’re shaping on both sides of the piece. I like add notes to my schematic that incorporate all of the “at the same time”s so that I don’t lose track!
5) Keep tally marks on your schematic. My friend Beth has the phenomenal ability to always know what row she’s on and how many stitches there are. It’s something internal that just stays in her head, even if it’s been days since she was last knitting. I, most assuredly, do NOT have this ability. I forget halfway through my row what row I’m on! So, I keep tally marks and notes running along side my schematic so that I can easily track what row and shaping I should be knitting.