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How to Determine if there is a Mistake in the Pattern, Part 1

April 7th, 2014

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This column by Barbara Breiter, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Knitting & Crocheting, originally appeared in The Weekly Stitch newsletter

You’ve completed a row and something isn’t right. You have 2 sts left. Or you’ve completed the row but the pattern still has instructions for the row you haven’t worked. You try it again and there’s still a problem. What do you do?

It’s possible there is an error in the pattern…it does happen sometimes*. Or despite the fact that you’ve worked it twice now, you may be misunderstanding or skipping part of it.

If you break down the section or row by number of stitches used and number of stitches remaining (if there is an increase or decrease), it will be easier to determine if there is a pattern error or if it’s a knitter/crocheter error.

Let’s look at an example of how to do this.

Cromwell Court Afghan

This pattern is worked over 114 stitches. At the end of this row, you should still have 114 stitches.

Row 3: K3, (k2tog) 3 times, (yo, k1) 6 times, *(k2tog) 6 times, (yo, k1) 6 times; rep from * to last 9 sts, (k2tog) 3 times, k3.

First, let’s look at K3, (k2tog) 3 times, (yo, k1) 6 times,

There are 3 decreases (k2tog) and 6 increases (yo). You have used 15 stitches (k3, k2tog 3 times, k1 6 times [3+6+6]) and you have 18 stitches on the right needle now (3+3+12).

*(k2tog) 6 times, (yo, k1) 6 times; rep from * to last 9 sts,

This repeat has 6 decreases and 6 increases so the number of stitches used is the same as the number you have on your right needle for this section. The yo’s compensate for the k2tog decreases.

There are 18 stitches used (k2tog 6 times, k1 6 times [12+6]) and 18 new stitches (6+12).

This section is repeated 5 times.

We know this because we started with 114 stitches, we used 15 stitches prior to the asterisk, and we will have 9 stitches left to work.

114-15-9=90 stitches worked over the repeat

90 divided by 18 stitches used=5

(k2tog) 3 times, k3.

There are 3 decreases and no increases. So the last section compensates for the 3 extra increases in the first section.
You have used 9 stitches (6+3) and there are 6 new sts (3+3).

So the total number of stitches used is 15+90+9=114
The total number of stitches you now have is 18+90+6=114

Conclusion

Here are four simple tips to help you think there is an error in a pattern:

  1. Try to understand the pattern line by line so you can follow it and maintain the right stitch count.
  2. Use stitch markers, which can be helpful when there are repeats. Mark each section and keep track of them.
  3. If you do determine there is an error, send a note to the pattern’s publisher so can correct it in the future.
  4. If a pattern is frustrating you at the moment, take a break! Leave it and look at it with fresh eyes the next day. Often, when you come back to a pattern later on, it becomes obvious what the issue may have been.

Next week we’ll be looking at another example: a sweater pattern.

To sign up for the Weekly Stitch and get columns like this, free patterns, how-to videos and more, click here.

*Editor’s note: While we triple-check each pattern for errors here at Lion Brand, an occasional one may slip through. If that happens, you can contact us via LionBrand.com. When we issue a correction, we include a note at the top of the pattern (for people who may have previously printed out the pattern, but we also incorporate the changes into the body of the pattern for new people downloading the pattern so that you don’t have to worry about the correction.

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