10 Tips for Reading Knitting Patterns

Posted by on Apr 29, 2014

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Looking at knitting instructions for the first time can be like looking at a foreign language. But don't let that keep you from creating beautiful clothes and works of art. Here are 10 tips for reading knitting patterns that will make learning to knit easier.

1.  Read the instructions carefully from beginning to end. It may help to read the instructions more than once. Make note of any sections that may seem confusing.

2.  Learn to recognize the Symbolcraft chart. Vogue Knitting has a chart that will break down the terminology. Also learn the knitting abbreviations. You may come across new techniques and stitches you have never seen in a pattern you chose. Knit Picks has a great glossary for knitting abbreviations. 

3.  Pay close attention to the type of yarn being used. Each pattern specifies which yarn weight to use, if you chose something different don't expect your piece to look the same as the original!

4.  Be sure to have the correct size needles. The gauge of your needle also determines how your final piece will look. You can see the difference needles below. Check out this explanation from Twist Collective.

Knitting needle comparison
 Make a gauge swatch to ensure you have the correct tools. Check out this video by Cheryl Brunette on how to make your own gauge swatch. 


6.  Choose patterns based on your skill level. We know the advanced knitting patterns are amazing, but being completely overwhelmed isn't!

7.  Once you have made your gauge swatch, be sure to measure, measure and measure again!

8.  Get comfortable with the idea of asking the employees at your local craft store for help reading the pattern if you get stuck. If you don't have a store conveniently located, don't forget about the internet. There are tons of great knitting resources out there. We even have some tutorials here on CraftFoxes. Check them out!

9.  As you read the pattern, highlight the dimensions you are following. Highlighting will keep your focus where it needs to be. Being careful not to lose your place in the middle of the pattern may save your sanity, as having to rip out a lot of rows of work is very frustrating. 

10.  Stick with one measurement system. If you are measuring in yards, stick with yards.

Do you have any tips for reading knitting patterns? Let us know in the comments. 


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