Frequently Asked Questions
Something got you stuck? I’m hoping to save you some time & hassle by answering your frequently asked questions right here. Please note that nothing mentioned here is a pattern error; for pattern errata click here. The first section covers general questions that apply to a variety of patterns. The second section covers questions that are specific to particular designs. I also like to recommend KnittingHelp.com for free highly informative videos of many many MANY different knitting techniques!
+ Abbreviations & Terminology
What does “work in pat” mean? “Work in pat” is short for work in pattern. In most cases, it means simply to knit the knit stitches and purl the purl stitches. If you are working in an established stitch pattern where the wrong side is NOT a mirror of the right side, you should work from the chart or written out stitch pattern.
+ Stitch Patterns
What does the wrong side of an X2 stitch look like? The X2 is my abbreviation for a twist, or crossover stitch which is a 2-stitch cable worked with no needle. Both stitches are worked as knit on the right side, so they should be purled on the wrong side.
What does the wrong side of a YO look like? YO, or yarnover, is a way to make a new stitch in lacework. Unless specified otherwise, consider it a “knit” stitch on the right side, thus work a purl on the wrong side.
The pattern says to end with Round 4 of xxx stitch pattern, does that mean after or before knitting this round?
Interpret “end with” the same as you would interpret “end after.” These days, I generally use “end after” because it is more clear, but in some of my earlier designs I had not yet learned that lesson which is why you might see the text “end with” instead.
I am working on a stranded colorwork project but my work is too tight and bunchy. How can I fix it?
Unfortunately, its nearly impossible to fix this problem after the fact. But, if you’re keen to frog and try again, here’s the best tip I’ve ever heard! Before you bring your strand around to change colors, spread out the stitches on your right hand needle. That way, you’ll have a long enough strand that it will not bunch up your work.
How come your pom poms always look so pretty? When it comes to pom poms, don’t be afraid to trim A LOT. Trimming is what shapes the pom pom and while it may seem like you are wasting yarn, its necessary to trim to get a sturdy looking full pom pom. Also, pull any knots as tightly as possible as this will make your pom a lot more stable.
I’m doing a bind-off of a several stitches on a row. I had 41 stitches before the bind-off. Your instructions say to “BO 8 sts, k32. 33 sts.” Where is that extra stitch?
I like to write patterns very literally because I personally think that is less confusing. This particular issue I have actually polled knitters about and got totally mixed responses, which leads me to think there is no perfect way to write this. After you perform a bind-off, you will still have one stitch remaining on your right hand needle. Thus there is one less stitch to knit to the end of the row compared to your total stitch count.
I’m knitting on a project in-the-round with colorwork but things don’t line up at the join. What am I doing wrong?
Absolutely nothing! Even though you’re knitting in a circle, when you pass your round marker, its because you’re moving up to a new round that is on top of the previous, hence what is called the “jog.” I have never been bothered by the jog so I haven’t bothered using techniques to avoid them, but there are several out there. Here’s one example from TechKnitter (fantastic blog). Google for more (and for videos).
I’m working a pattern with short rows. The instructions say “Short Rows 1 & 2: K##, W&T, p##, W&T.” Do I do this twice to make it Rows 1 & 2?
NO. Its labeled 1 & 2 because in fact the knit stitches are the first short row and the purled stitches are the second short row. Work each row only ONCE.
The pattern I am working on says “increase ## stitches” or “decrease ## stitches” but does not specify what type of increase/decrease to work. What should I do?
If it truly does not matter what type of increase or decrease is worked, sometimes I use these terms generally. They should not scare you—instead, you should feel freedom! You can do what you want and it won’t hurt your project. My personal preferences (in general, I reserve the right to use others if warranted) are M1L (left-leaning increase), M1R (right-leaning increase), ssk (left-leaning decrease) and k2tog (right-leaning decrease).
I am knitting a hat with ear flaps. Do I knit the second ear flap right after the first?
Yes, in all of my patterns where an ear flap is knit before you cast on for the hat, you will want to complete both flaps before doing your cast on. You will also want to break yarn after each flap is completed.
I am knitting a bottom-up sweater with sleeves. Do I knit both sleeves before working the joining round?
Yes. And, you should break yarn after completing each sleeve. I have never worked a sweater, bottom-up, with raglan sleeves before. Do you have a tutorial that shows how to perform the joining round? At this time I do not have a tutorial for this. Remember that you always want to be working on the right side of the sleeve when you are knitting it onto the body/performing the join, and that your underarm stitches should be facing each other—these are the two sets of stitches that you have placed on hold. One was from the sleeve during your last round of work and the other set is the stitches that you placed on hold from the body just prior to knitting from the sleeve during this row.
The pattern I’m about to knit calls for worsted weight yarn but I’d really like to substitute with some awesome DK weight yarn in my stash. Can I do this?
Yes you can, but you’ll need to give it some thought first. Many times it is possible to get gauge with a different weight yarn than the patterns suggests. The difference lies in the fabric itself. If you use a DK yarn for a worsted gauge, your fabric will be looser, floppier & drapier than the pattern intends. Sometimes this works beautifully but other times it will goof things up. To know how successfully you can do this, just knit a generous (meaning BIG) gauge swatch (and block it) and make sure you like the fabric. In stranded colorwork designs, this is especially not recommended because you may make the strands in the back of your work visible from the front. Using a heavier yarn than recommended in a pattern will result in a sturdier & firmer fabric. Again, this might be a desired effect, but on the other hand if you’re working up a hat that is supposed to stretch to fit on a head, the firmer fabric might be detrimental.
The pattern calls for xx amount of yards. Do I really need that much or can I get away with less?
My yardage estimates are based on a lot of math. I do add a slight extra percentage because I would hate for anyone to ever run out of yarn in a project! Talk about disaster.
I’m making xxx cardigan in size ## and it looks really small/big. What have you done wrong?
Every sized knitting pattern is based on a specified gauge. A gauge describes a certain number of stitches and a certain number of rows that are worked over a certain number of inches. If you do not match gauge to what the pattern calls for, your sizing will not work out as intended. There is simply no way around it. The larger the project, the more important your gauge is. You’ve heard it before and I’ll say it again, you need to knit a gauge for every project that you do if you want to be certain that sizing works out properly. Also, block your gauge swatch before you take measurements. Some fibers will really change during blocking and it is VERY important to take this into account before you cast on. For garments, my patterns are sized based on the CYC sizing standards and sometimes also the ASTM standards. Remember that standards are based on averages and so they are not perfect for every body. All of my garment patterns include full schematics which show measurements in each body section for each size. It is a much better idea to look at those measurements and decide which size to knit based on them, then it is to blindly pick a number size. As you knit more and more garments, you’ll probably learn which areas you might have to adjust for fit, or maybe you will be lucky and the sizing standards are a perfect fit.
I am working on one of your short sleeved sweaters and I want to make it long sleeved. Can I just knit the sleeves longer?
You can, but this will not result in a great fit. When I write instructions for long sleeves, I always shape them so that the wrist is fitted along with the upper arm (so there are fewer stitches at wrist than at the top). Depending on whether the sleeve is worked top down or bottom up, you will want to increase or decrease a couple of stitches every few rows. The row interval will be based on the total length of the sleeve. There is some math involved in making a sleeve fitted, but don’t be afraid to give it a shot.
I would love to knit XX pattern in another size. Can you help me figure out how to size up the pattern?
At this time I am unable to dedicate time to adding additional sizes to my patterns by request. I try very hard to include a very broad range but I know that it still happens that you want an extra size sometimes! For hats, check out my Math for Hats booklet as it pretty much guides you step by step for this process. For garments, as you can imagine the process is a bit more involved. I always encourage knitters to go for it, just do your math ahead of time and use your gauge to help you figure out where to add stitches and rows!
+ Roar Hat/Mittens
I am knitting the Roar Hat/Mittens and trying to pick up and knit the spikes directly on the hat/mittens. I have picked up my first x stitches, now I am supposed to turn and pick up the other half. How do I know which stitches to pick up?
You can either pick up the column of stitches that is directly next to the set you’ve already picked up, or you can leave one column in between and pick up two columns over. Either one of these columns will work really well, it just depends on which you find more comfortable.
+ Trail Cap
I am making a Trail Cap with a flower. I do not understand the final directions to “weave it through alternating stitches.” Can you explain further?
Sure. By working the petals with slipping stitches and knit stitches, you have actually worked each petal inside out and avoided working on DPNs for this super-small-circumference. If you have a hard time visualizing this while your stitches are still on the needle I recommend working this final step a little differently. Prior to weaving, go ahead and slip all the stitches off of your single DPN and squeeze very gently, you will see a tube form as the stitches separate. At this point, you can weave your yarn straight through each side and all the way around the tube (negating the need for weaving through every other stitch). Then flip right side out and proceed.
+ Gramps Cardigan
I’m working on the neckline decreases in Gramps Cardigan and am having trouble figuring out what to do when my cables disappear on the end. Why didn’t you write all this out?
Sometimes providing too much detail in a pattern can actually make it more confusing. I know you don’t believe me and might be really frustrated right now, but just trust me. Even so, I have blogged about the decreasing section in this pattern and I hope reading this post will be very helpful for you! The most important thing to remember about this section is that the shawl collar is actually going to fold over and hide the decreases so the likelihood of any decision you choose to make regarding the decreases actually mattering in the final look of the garment is very slim! I’m working on on Gramps Cardigan in the short row section for the collar. Rows 1-9 are all good. But then in row 10, the pattern says to “continue in pattern to end of the row”, which I understood to mean that I should work all the rest of the stitches to the very end of the row (ie., the bottom of the sweater). When I did that, though, the directions for row 11-14 didn’t seem to make any sense and seemed like they would make a lopsided shawl. If you follow the directions literally, nothing will be lopsided. You’re going to be simultaneously adding width to the buttonband and the shawl collar by working alternating short rows and full rows. As you move on to each “new” set of short rows, you will alternate the sides in which you are “working to the end of row.” My Gramps Cardigan sleeves are looking really tiny. Are you sure you sized these right? The sizing for these sleeves is based on the same standards as all my other patterns. The sleeve cables are set on a reverse stockinette background and thus before blocking, they tend to “hide” a part of the sleeves therefore making them look smaller than they actually are. Secondly, many knitters tend to knit more tightly in-the-round than they do when working back and forth. If your gauge seems to have tightened up on the sleeves, they will indeed turn out to be smaller than intended. The best thing to do in this case is to size up a needle or two for when you are working in-the-round.
I am working on the SnuggleBug car seat cozy but my row gauge seems to be off and therefore the cozy is coming out a lot longer than it is supposed to be. What can I do?
Let’s talk about how “off” your row gauge is. Is it just a little? A length difference overall of 1-2 inches is truly not a big deal. The baby will simply have a bit more growing room. So don’t worry if your gauge is just a tad bit off. However, if your difference is greater, the best suggestion I have is to make a little adjustment when you cast on stitches for each wing. Cast on more stitches than the pattern calls for on each wing (right before you begin the short rows). Add 4 stitches to the right side cast-on for every 2 stitches on the wrong side cast-on. Every extra “set” of cast-ons that you add will be three fewer decrease rows (thus 6 fewer rows total) that you will need to work before getting to the final stitch count. This will not require any other adjustments to the pattern, just work until you get the correct total stitch count. The SnuggleBug pattern says to slip 4 stitches to hold for each side of the gusset. Where do I slip them? Slip these stitches either onto a stitchholder, or onto waste/scrap yarn. You will not be using them again until you graft the gusset together in the finishing section. You do NOT want to keep these stitches on your working needles, as this will create extra strands of yarn and you’ll be slipping them row after row.
+ Master Charles
In the Master Charles Sweater, you say to I am working in basketweave over 21 stitches, but the chart is 9 stitches wide, huh? That math doesn’t work.
The chart shows both a section that should be repeated AND 3 stitches that are worked before and after the cabling. So depending on what size you are working you will complete the 6-stitch repeat x number of times in addition the 3 other stitches. The repeated 6 stitches are in a red box on the chart. The 3 extra stitches are either at the beginning or the end of the basketweave section depending on which row you are working. I am having a hard time setting in the sleeves in the Master Charles Sweater. Any tips?
Although the sleeves are in reverse stockinette, there really is not additional technique used here when compared to normally setting in sleeves. I start at the top of the shoulder, then work the front down to the underarm center. I then use a second strand (same armhole) to start at the top of the shoulder then work the back down to the underarm center. One of my favorite knitting resources is Vogue’s Ultimate Knitting Book. This book taught me how to set in sleeves (among many other things) and I highly recommend it. I start at the top of the shoulder, then work the front down to the underarm center. I then use a second strand (same armhole) to start at the top of the shoulder then work the back down to the underarm center.
+ Cushy Cocoon
I just started the Cushy Cocoon and I am confused. I got through Row 1 & 2. The next instructions state to work last 2 rows a total of 7 times while also working in Texture Pattern. This is where I’m confused because the Texture Pattern is 8 rows. Which rows am I repeating?
I’ve decided to just write this section an alternate way—row by row—for those of you struggling with these directions! Its just as easy as me trying to explain it. So, after you have CO and purled your WS row. Begin here and replace the rest of what is on the front page with the following instructions:
Row 1: K1, m1L, k1, sl 1; rep from to last st, m1R, k1.
Row 2: P2,sl 1, p1; rep from to last 2 sts , p2.
Row 3: K1, m1L, knit to last st, m1R, k1.
Row 4: Purl.
Row 5: K1, m1L, sl1, k1; rep from to last st, m1R, k1.
Row 6: P2, p1, sl 1; rep from to last 2 sts, p2.
Row 7: K1, m1L, knit to last st, m1R, k1.
Row 8: Purl. Work Rows 1-8. Work Rows 1-6 once more. Cable CO 14 sts. Turn, place marker and join to work in the round.