Making Sense Of Intimidating Knitting Patterns

A friend received the Auden’s Advice pattern by Jennifer Burek Pierce as part of the digital bundle from the 2016 Project For Awesome. She doesn’t knit, but we both consider ourselves nerdfighters, so she was kind enough to share the pattern with me. I am now making a pair of these nerdy fingerless gloves for each of us as yet another loophole project.

I’ve never really done much with colorwork other than adding stripes or working with blocks of color. These gloves require fair isle knitting to bring the words in the design to life. I’m nervous about learning this new skill because I want the gloves to turn out well.

I’ve also never really tried knitting patterns with charts before, but they seem easy to follow. They remind me of cross-stitch charts.

We both read through the pattern when it arrived, excited to see what the gloves would look like. My friend thought it looked difficult, what with all the symbols, abbreviations, and discussion of wraps per inch. I was familiar with the terms and was excited to give it a try, but nervous about fair isle knitting.

I was finally ready to start knitting! The yarn was picked out and wound from hanks to balls. I had done my research on fair isle techniques. I had cast on for a test glove that I’m still hoping will turn out to be a keeper. I felt confident…right up until I finished the first portion of ribbing. I put down my needles and picked up my pens, determined to make sense of the pattern.

My strategy was as follows:

  1. Write notes all over the pattern, in multiple colors if needed
  2. Use grid paper or an Excel spreadsheet to combine the smaller charts and create one big picture
  3. Mark important landmarks on the grid paper
  4. Start knitting the test glove

Step one may make the pattern look even more complicated than it originally did. On my first read-through, I focused on what supplies I needed and how the gloves would be constructed. It helped to know when to place markers and where the thumb gusset would appear. On my second read-through, I looked for which chart started on which round.

Step two is especially helpful when a pattern has several smaller charts. I personally prefer to see the big picture when possible. Since the left and right gloves were different, I made a one-page chart for the left glove and a one-page chart for the right glove. This was also when I tried my hand at designing a chart for the palms. Pierce offered ideas but did not create a concrete chart, giving creative power to the knitters.

Step three is also helpful for understanding the big picture. This is when I marked which round the thumb gusset would start. I also drew bold vertical lines in the pattern to mark needle 1, needle 2, and needle 3.

Step four is still in progress. I’m currently about halfway through a test right-hand glove and am happy to say that steps 1-3 resulted in a really helpful reference tool. I am still adding notes as needed so that the second pair of gloves will be easier to make. Hoping to share these finished projects sometime soon!

Please feel free to leave your own tips and tricks in comments. Happy knitting! šŸ™‚


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