Pattern Reading

If you’ve already read our previous articles on knitting, you know how to cast on, how to knit the first row, and how to bind off. So basically, you’re ready to begin knitting. You’re feeling confident, prepared, knowledgeable–that is, until you happen to glance at your first knitting pattern only to discover a jumble of numbers and letters, leaving you completely devoid of any prior confidence you might have had. But don’t panic just yet! Reading a pattern, while at first a bit complicated, isn’t really all that difficult once you get the hang of it. Here are a few tips for reading your first knitting pattern:

knitting projects

What do the Abbreviations Mean?

When reading a knitting pattern, the first thing you’ll need to know are some of the common abbreviations used. Here are a few of the most common ones:

CO : Cast on – you learned how to do this in our first article on knitting

K : Knit – you learned how to do this in our second article

P: Purl – some patterns call for both knitting and purling. Stay tuned for our next article, which will cover how to purl

RS and WS – Right side and Wrong side. The “right side” just means the front of the project. The “wrong side” is the back. If you’re knitting a sweater, for example, the “wrong side” is the part that will touch your skin.

CC – contrasting color. If you have a couple of colors you’re working with, you’ll see something like “cc1, cc2” to denote which color to use.

Sl – slip a stitch

What do the Numbers Mean?

The numbers after the letters simply indicate how many stitches you should make. For example, a pattern might read: K2, P4, K4, P2. This would mean that you knit 2 stitches, purl 4, knit 4 stitches, and then purl 2.

Other Tips

-There are different sizes of needles. Pick a pattern first and choose your needle based on what the pattern recommends

-Before you begin knitting, make a gauge. This means you knit a 4 inch square and then count the number of stitches and rows. This is to ensure that the finished pattern is the correct size. If it isn’t correct, you may need to use a different sized needle.

-Start with a basic pattern. Dishrags, for example, are good projects for beginners.

These are some of the most common things you’ll need to know when reading your first pattern. Stay tuned for future articles on other aspects of knitting. Happy hobbies!

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