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Where Was I Again? How to Figure Out Where You Left Off

September 26th, 2011

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Back when I first became capital-K Knitter and really started interacting with other Knitters, online and in person, I would quietly giggle behind my hand at those who bemoaned their stacks of UFOs (Unfinished Objects) and WIPs (Works In Progress). I only had one project going at a time, and I was sure I would never be one of those poor souls who just couldn’t manage to start what they finished before moving on to the next project.

Of course, it wasn’t too long before I discovered that I need lots of quiet to work on complicated lace and cables, so I decided to allow myself one simple project and one more complicated one. That’s reasonable, right? Of course, I was commuting by bus at the time and sometimes a project would just get too big to be easily transportable, so I decided I could start additional projects to commute with while finishing up the big ones at home.

Talk about your slippery slope…I now have “exceptions” to my “single project” rule for gifts, seasonal appropriateness, craft (now that I am also a capital-C Crocheter), soft yarn, pattern lust…you name it, I can make an exception for it. I currently have seven WIPs…just in the basket under my desk at work. That’s not including the two projects in my knitting bag or the socks I always carry in my purse, or the other socks I always have in my car, “just in case”. Let’s not even talk about what I’ve got stacked up at home.

The only real problem with this is that I often put down projects “just while I cast this on” or “until I get this super-quick gift made” and they end up languishing for weeks or months…and since I didn’t intend to put the thing down for more than a day or two, I haven’t marked the pattern. Or worse, I’ve misplaced the pattern…which is where I’ve marked the size I’m making.

This is exactly what happened to me with the Saturday Morning Hoodie Knit-Along (project pictured above). I cast on with the best intentions and then got distracted by who-knows-what and stopped at a point fairly far along on the back. I went to pick it up the other day because I really want to have it to wear around the office when the temperature drops, and discovered that I have both no idea what point I’m at in the pattern and no idea what size I’m making. Fortunately, I can just print out another copy of the pattern, but if it were a pre-printed pattern I’d’ve made a copy to work from originally, both in case of this very situation and also so I could write notes on it and circle sizing information without marking up my original.

What size was I making?
So now that I’ve got my new copy of the pattern, the first thing I need to figure out is what size I’m making. The easiest and most accurate way to do that is to just count your stitches. You want to count fairly close to your cast-on row, and check the pattern to see if there are any increases/decreases before where you’re counting so you can take that into account. In this case, there are no increases or decreases until after the ribbing, so I just counted right across the ribbing and came up with 54. That corresponds to the 44″ size, which does seem like the size I’d have chosen. Next step, circle all of the numbers corresponding to that size, just as I did the first time around.

Where am I in the pattern?
Now I need to figure out where I am in the pattern–what my next steps should be as I begin working on it again. According to the pattern, after the ribbing (which I can see I’m way past) I am to work in stockinette stitch until my piece is 16″ from the beginning. So I’m just going to measure and see where I am. (This process gets a little more complicated if you’re working on something with a more complicated stitch pattern, because you need to figure out not only where in the project you are, but where in the stitch pattern. I recommend tackling the two problems separately, handling the stitch pattern part first as that may well give you clues about where in the project you are).

I’m at 14″, so I have another couple of inches of straight knitting to go before I need to start my raglan shaping, so it looks like I’m in pretty good shape on this one. Yay!

What if I can’t tell where I am?
I have, on occasion, been unable to figure out where I am in either the pattern or the project…when that happens, really the only thing you can do is find a point further back that you can identify and rip back to there. And try to remember next time to mark where you are in the pattern…even if you’re only planning on setting it down for a day.

  • Anonymous

    Great tips for figuring out where you were in a pattern. I’ve finally gotten in the habit of attaching a tag to everything I’m working on and making notes on it as needed including hook size and where I am in a pattern.

    • Shortone43

      Very good ideas!

    • Steen1832

      You have the right idea. I attach a paper tag with hook/needle size, row in the pattern, and where the rest of the yarn is hiding.

  • Kim DeStratis

    I am the same way with projects, I can’t resist starting a new one I’m really excited about, undoubtedly leaving a neglected project or two to sit and wait for me to return. Generally I leave a post-it marking where I am in a pattern and fortunately haven’t yet lost a pattern (while working on it at least). Thanks for the tips!

  • Smachen55

    I thought I Was the only. One. Blessings to you
    Hee hee

  • Nan7nur

    My wonderful husband bought me a set of cables with interchangable needles. The only problem is when I need to use the needles on another project  I put the end caps on but when I come back to the project and can’t remember what size I that I am making so I can’t remember the size needles I was using. I got from a thrift store the size plastic rings they use on hangers for clothing with the size on them 4-14, so now I can just slip on the number of the size needle I was using and then the end cap! Hope this helps.