1. Always work a tension square . The designer will have worked out the proportions of the knit you have fallen in love with you so a difference in tension to that quoted in the pattern will result in a different garment and lead to disappointment.
2. Work your tension piece over at least 15cm square and then let it relax for a few hours or overnight, this will give you a more accurate tension and use a ruler rather than a tape measure which can sometimes stretch.
3. Don’t read through a pattern first unless it is to check you have all the materials you need. You will often find that something you feel doesn’t seem to work or is an error, makes sense when the knitting is on your needles.
4. If you are struggling to work out how to incorporate a stitch pattern when shaping e.g when increasing on a sleeve for example, draw the outline of the piece onto graph paper,, including all the shaping, fill in the stitches that you know, then using the existing stitches, draw in the new ones.
5. Always check the actual measurements of a pattern to make sure it has the right amount of ease that you want.This will show you whether it is a generous or form fitting style.
6. Make sure when you embark on a project that your technical skills match it. If you really want to knit it but are unsure if you are experienced enough, practice the techniques first rather than struggling when you are in the middle of the project.
7. If you think there is an error in a pattern you may be reading it when you are tired or having a bad maths day, walk away, make a cup of tea and read the pattern again. Companies usually have their patterns checked at least three times although there may still be human error.
8. Sewing up can make or break a garment. Worked from the right side, where you can see what you are doing, mattress stitch is the one that works on almost every part of a garment and makes an invisible seam.
9. When casting off on a shoulder slip the first stitch, this produces a more even slope, making the transition smoother between one group of cast off stitches and the next ones to be worked.
10. Knitting patterns use the terms “form” and “set”. Form is used when every row of the pattern has been given e.g “These 6 rows form the pattern”. Set is used when every row of the pattern has been given out in another part of the pattern and we subsequently want to show the position of that pattern panel within a row e.g. “These 4 rows set the position of the pattern panel and are repeated, working correct pattern rows.”
11. One question I have been asked many times involves taking increased stitches into a textured stitch pattern; this occurs wherever shaping happens, but particularly on sleeves. When designing in texture, graph paper is an absolute necessity: It makes it so much easier to see exactly how to place the pattern on any particular shape. I always suggest drawing out the shape on standard graph paper on which each square represents one stitch and one row—you don’t need special knitting graph paper to do this. Once the outline is drawn with all the increases and decreases shown, you can add the stitches that are already known, since usually the first few rows are written out, setting the position of the pattern.
Use symbols for the stitches; you can make up your own if you are not familiar with the standard ones. When you have added the known stitches and have worked out how the stitch repeat works, you can fill in the blank squares. If there are stitches involved for which you need a specific number to work a complete instruction, such as cables, you may need to work the first few increase stitches in stockinette stitch until you have the correct number to work the cable.