Sometimes it’s not the pattern, it’s the knitter

and sometimes that knitter is me. I always feel awful when we have to reply to a knitter and tell them that the problem they’re having seems to be because they made a mistake. The question of how I ended up designing patterns often comes up in interviews and I always seem to come back to the fact that I was so terribly, terribly bad at following patterns. I know so precisely that moment when things don’t work out and the sinking recognition that it’s almost certainly because of a silly mistake rows back. The obvious response of someone who was so bad at knitting from a pattern is probably to consider a different hobby, one that doesn’t involve following directions, but my response was to decide it might be easier to make the patterns as well. It’s never been said that I make things easy for myself.
Creating patterns, however, turned out to be rather a lot of work (that should probably have been obvious too). Sometimes, I’d rather just knit. My pattern creating skills have improved over the years, and I try and write them so that even I might have a hope of following them, but it appears I’m no better at following patterns. When I got to the front waist shaping on the sweater I’m working (the Mystic pullover from New England Knits) I carefully counted the rows worked on the back so that they’d match perfectly. Except that the same number of rows took me to a completely different place in the cable pattern. Turns out I knit the entire back misreading the chart, working 4 cable crosses in each direction instead of 5. I’d even noticed the extra purl stitch I had one end and just decreased it out without thinking any further. Oh well, it’s not like anyone will be able to compare the back and the front side by side once it’s done. A finished sweater sounds far more appealing than a perfect one!

Stupidity aside, I am loving this project. The pattern is simple but not tediously dull and the yarn is so very snuggly. It’s also notably worked in pieces, unlike most of my own designs, but I didn’t have any desire to change that. I actually quite like finishing, and for this design with it’s inset pockets it makes total sense. It’s also easier to keep track of a cable pattern, I find, when there are right and wrong side rows. Designing sweaters with seamless constructions is certainly something I find interesting, but I do think it’s most important to use a construction that works for the design, one of the patterns in Little Red is worked in pieces.

Even following patterns that I wrote in the first place is problematic, I cast on last night for a hat in colours I’d suddenly decided were woefully absent from my large collection. If I could count, I’d probably be wearing it today instead of ripping it out. Almost at the end of the decreases I realised I’d misplaced the markers, and as the decreases form a rather obvious pattern on the crown it would be clearly out of balance.

When I’m not knitting a sample my general rule is that I’ll rip if not doing so will be blatantly obvious, but otherwise, fudging doesn’t bother me at all. Definitely not a knitter who will “just know a mistake is there and not be able to see anything else”. How about you? Or maybe you’re someone who never has problems following directions, in which case I might hate you a little bit.