Read, before Knit


Somewhere buried deep in your subconscious, is the saying “Read all the directions before you start,” That made sense when you were in grade school and were taking a test for a grade, but, for some reason, once we add some pretty, colorful string, sharp pointy objects, and a must-have finished object dangling in front of us, all of that advice seems to disappear.

How many times have you come to the end of project, only to realize that your item does not look like the one in the picture? Or that the sleeves are completely in the wrong place, or one piece is three times larger than the rest of it? Yes, it happens. There is so much going on in a knitting pattern that sometimes, as we work line by line, in what we think is the logical “right” way to proceed, we are missing the little nuances and stylistic directions that might have us working a particular element “at the same time” as another. Sometimes multiple areas of shaping are happening simultaneously, or it could very well be that one portion is worked in a different gauge, or even in a different stitch pattern. 

There is nothing more frustrating then sewing on the last button of your brand new cardigan, eagerly pulling it on, and then not being able to button the very top button. Especially when you have spent hours knitting and sewing and working on what you hope will be your new favorite, wear everywhere sweater. Instead of happiness and joy, you get frustrated, mad and crumple the sweater into a ball as you toss it into the dark abyss, otherwise knows as the back of your closet.

Then you start to beat yourself up because you had that nagging feeling that something was amiss but you were so eager to finish that you just kept knitting on and on right into a huge error. It happens. No matter if you have been knitting for 1 month or 10 years, there is always room for error. Even if you are a knitwear designer that should know better! If you had only stopped to take the few moments to read the pattern, you would have realized that the buttons did not go all the way up the side, but they stop right after the bust shaping.

Reading through a pattern before rushing to cast on is one of those steps like making a gauge swatch that we like to forget about because it isn’t “fun”. But, in rushing, we often make really silly mistakes that take several months for us to find the courage to repair and even then we find it awfully hard to laugh at ourselves and press forward in our craft. To create a successful and wearable knit, take the time to read through the pattern, making sure you understand each step. If there is a term or technique you are unfamiliar with, this is your opportunity to research it and perfect it -- even better, practice on your gauge swatch. To get an even better idea of the finished item, search other knitter’s finished objects, especially those that have not been finished due to mistakes or errors. Does the yarn change significantly over time? Does constant wear make the drape change? What do other crafters wish they had done differently in their project? Is there any errata for the pattern? Make notes of this in your pattern so that you can glean from the wisdom and experience of others. 

Remember that this is your hobby -- knitting is supposed to be fun! You can’t have fun and enjoy yourself if you are not satisfied with your finished product. Approach your pattern as a learning opportunity and a chance to perfect your skill. When you are able to enjoy the finished object, whether it is a new pair of socks for yourself or a baby gift for a friend, you will find yourself filled with pride in something that you made with your own two hands.

About the storyteller:

Jessica Anderson likes to design fun and quirky knitting patterns that are easy to finish. She enjoys being home with her 5 children and her supportive husband, and coffee. Lots of coffee. To find out more about her work and many adventures- in knitting and homeschooling, you can find her at:, and on Ravelry as MonkeyButtBabies.