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January 08, 2021

A pile of knitting projects on the needles including an orange sweater, striped socks next to a notebook and pencil.

Whether you put it down a week ago or months ago, nearly everyone has a few abandoned knitting projects. Maybe you got bored, or another project took priority (hello gift knitting). How do you figure out where you left off when you get back to it? Here are a few tips for how to find your place in an abandoned knitting project, and how to make things easier on yourself for next time! Being able to read your knitting is a great help too when picking up an abandoned project, and you can read more about learning this important skill here.

The Pattern

A brown lace knitting project lies on a blue surface next to a black and pink pen, the sheets of a paper knitting pattern and post it notes.

First things first: Do you know what pattern it is? If you can’t remember, try browsing your past social media posts or your Ravelry notebook or queue. Narrow it down by asking, what type of project is it (hat, sweater)? Are there multiple colours or stitch patterns?

It’s a good idea to keep records of projects you’ve started in a way that works for you. This might be a Ravelry project page, a dedicated notebook, or just a photo of the project and pattern on your smartphone. You might think you’ll remember, but it never hurts to write it down. This also applies to working the pattern itself - mark the size you’re knitting, check off sections you’ve completed, and take note of adjustments you’ve made. (You can also do this on digital patterns with PDF markup apps.)

Keeping printed patterns together with their projects in a project bag is also a great way to make sure you know what it is when you come back to it. 

Once you’ve figured out what pattern you’re working with, it’s time to figure out where you are within it. (If you can’t figure out what pattern you were knitting, it might be time for a new project!)

Where am I?

Depending on the type of project you’re knitting, there should be some visible clues that will help you figure out what row you’re on.

Right Side or Wrong Side?

A hand holds up a piece of brown lace knitting, folded over to show both the right and wrong sides of the work.

Will your next row be a right side row or a wrong side row? Or are both sides the same? With the right side of the project facing you look at which edge the yarn is attached to. If it’s on the left, you’d just completed a right side row, if it’s on the right, you’d just finished a wrong side row.⁠

a brown shawl is being spread out on the needles with the wrong side facing

⁠If you’re in the middle of a row, is the yarn attached to the left or right needle tip? If, with the right side facing it’s on the left, you’re in the middle of a wrong side row and need to flip your work over.⁠


A brown lace knitting project lies on a blue surface in the bottom left corner of the image. Next to it is a paper knitting pattern, a post it with notes, a pen and knitting counter.

Count the number of stitches and see if it corresponds clearly to a row in the pattern. For something like a shawl or raglan sweater where the stitch count changes almost every row, counting stitches might be enough to get you on track.

For other projects, counting the number of rows might be more helpful. You can count from the cast on or another landmark (such as an increase or decrease row, or a cable cross row), and work through the pattern’s rows from there.

Increases and Decreases

A yellow sweater marked with safety pins on the shaping points is held over a copy of a knitting pattern.

Are there increases or decreases in the pattern? Look closely to identify increases and decreases, perhaps placing stitch markers on them so you don’t lose track. Increases and decreases are most often worked on the right side of the piece.

Cast ons and bind offs are also easy to identify and can give you another landmark to figure out where you could be in the pattern.

Stitch Patterns and Charts

Is there a stitch pattern or chart with numbered rows?

If you’ve been working from charts or a stitch pattern, chances are you’ve done something to mark off completed rows (checkmarks on the pattern, tally markers, or a row counter. )

Hands are working on a brown lace knitting project. There is a paper pattern with handwritten notes on a blue surface, a pen, a knitting counter, and post it notes.

Compare the last row of your knitting on the needles against the chart or stitch pattern to see if it matches the row you’ve marked. If it doesn’t, check a row up or down - you might have worked another row without marking it off, before you put it down.

Give it a Go

A brown knitted shawl on the needles is held over a blue surface. The knitting is half way through a row and the hands are ready to make a new stitch.

Nothing left but to try the next row. Make sure to mark where you are now and what row you are trying! If the row doesn't work out, you’ll know you’ve missed something - but hopefully you’ve learned a few tricks to help you decode your knitting.

Projects featured in this post include the Ravelston sweater, the Willowbank Shawl, the Polwarth sweater and the Rakkaus Socks. 

Further Help Looking for more tips and tricks?

Our website is full of tutorials whether you're looking to knit your first sweater, get started with colourwork, or try a new technique.

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