Tips: How to keep track of complicated patterns?

Over the past two weeks or so I made a good progress on Chan’s Little Wave cardigan. It’s nice to knit with worsted weight yarn for a change, things progress much more quickly! I managed to finish the right sleeve last week, and by Wednesday this week I was done with the left sleeve as well. I couldn’t wait to join the sleeves to the body, and have all in one piece, but that is where things got somewhat tricky.

So now the whole of the cardigan – or what I have knitted of it so far – is sitting on one long cable, and I got to this point where the pattern says “Please read through to the end before proceeding“. I wonder if there is any knitter out there, who stands up and shouts hurray in joy upon encountering this sentence. What it usually means is ‘put down the needles, as what comes next is not knitting, but trying to get your head around the next bit, which may well take a good half hour’ – do you have any idea of how many rows I could knit in that time???!!! Of course, deep down you know you’d better take your time and get it right, otherwise what will follow is some grumpy frogging.


In this case, the mandatory reading session was due in order to take in the different notions involved in shaping the yoke and shoulders. I usually count rows drawing bundles of sticks in the middle of the pattern. I know row counters and mobile apps exist to accomplish the task, but I prefer to keep it simple. I find this a good enough way to remember where I left off when I pick my knitting up for the next time.

However, I needed something slightly more sophisticated this time. I had to keep count of the 12-row Little Wave stitch pattern, as well as the three types of decreases being the Yoke Decrease, the Neck Decrease and the Sleeve Decrease, which are repeated on different row counts. The pattern describes the stitch pattern and each type of decrease in a separate sections, pretty much as if it was the code for a computer program. Just because I’m a human, I thought it was best to translate this into more of a linear sequence that describes what exactly is needed to be done in each row. So this is what I came up with:


Just so you know, this is a much neater reproduction of the original (crammed into the white spaces of the pattern). But the idea is that the numbers represent the corresponding rows of the Little Wave pattern, and the letters over them show what decrease is due in each row, if any. I thought this was a practical idea, not only because the few minutes dedicated to drafting the scheme now allow me to joyfully knit away, knowing where exactly I am in the pattern and what I’m supposed to do next, but also because this way I could count the decreases before(!) I even started knitting them, managed to prevent at least one mistake.

I’m not experienced enough to tell whether this is common practice in knitting patterns, but here I encountered this type of instruction for the particular size I’m knitting: Repeat Neck decreases every 4th row [0] more times, then every 6th row [5] more times, then every 8th row [2]* more times. Now, the first time I drafted my little scheme, I assumed that I had to do the next neck decrease on the 6th row after the first one. However, I ended up having an extra decrease for the set number of rows I was supposed to work them over. Then I realized that probably what the pattern means is to count 4 rows, not decrease, and then count 6 more rows, this way having the second neck decrease a total of 10 rows counting from the first one. I’m not sure whether this is what is really meant, but at least now the number of decreases and rows seems to match.

If you have devised your own strategy to cope with puzzling parts of patterns such as this, don’t hesitate to share it! 🙂

*Note that these two decreases are not on the scheme, as they come later in the pattern, together with the shoulder decreases.

One thought on “Tips: How to keep track of complicated patterns?

  1. one of the best ways I have seen to keep track I saw on utube and what she used was a fluorescent tape that you can see through to mark her spots . it is removeable too.


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