Hooked on Needles

Monday, August 24, 2009

How to Keep Track of Decrease Rows in Knitting

When my oldest child was about two years old, my mother-in-law taught me how to knit. That was almost 17 years ago. My mother-in-law is no longer with us, and my daughter will be starting college in just over a week. So much has changed in those 17 years, including my knowledge of, ability to do, and love for the wonderful skill my mother-in-law passed on to me all those years ago. What a gift that was!

At first, naturally I had no knowledge of how to knit. I had the ability but without the knowledge, that did me no good. And of course you can't really love something that you don't know, so I had no love for the skill of knitting.

Over the years, this has changed dramatically, and for the better I might add as well! I've knitted so many things, I can't even begin to tell you. Everything I have knitted, I have thoroughly enjoyed making. Some things were for my children, but most were for gifts. One of the items I loved making both for my children and for gifts is sweaters, and after making quite a few, I've come up with a few tricks that have helped me along the way. One of those tricks is how to keep track of decrease rows in a knit pattern, such as you would need to do when knitting the sleeve of a sweater or a stocking cap for instance.

Let me share with you my method of keeping track of decrease rows on a sweater pattern.

How to Keep Track of Decrease Rows in KnittingSticky notes are a wonderful tool for jotting down information and for marking your place on a pattern. You can write on it and you can move it along as you move along in the pattern. At the point where this note is on this sweater pattern, the instruction says to repeat rows 2 and 3 three times. Not being a fast knitter, I could never do that much knitting in one sitting and would surely forget where I left off if I did not make some kind of notation to remind me. So I write on my sticky note as you see in the above picture.

How to Keep Track of Decrease Rows in KnittingTo prevent the need to keep referring back to the pattern, I might also note what to do on each row. In this case, on the #2 rows I would decrease and on the #3 rows I would purl.

How to Keep Track of Decrease Rows in KnittingThen as I finish each row, I simply cross it off. This way if I have to put down my knitting for a minute, an hour, or a few days even, I will know exactly where I left off when I come back to it. When I have crossed off that last noted row, it's time to move on to the next instruction in the pattern.

How to Keep Track of Decrease Rows in KnittingAt some point further in the pattern, I come across another instruction that seems a bit complicated at first. But if you break it down and write it down, it becomes quite easy to manage. For this pattern, the instruction says to decrease one stitch at each edge every 4 rows for the size I am making, and to do this 7 more times from this point in the pattern. And then I am to decrease every 2 rows 2 times.

I write out my row numbers starting with number 1, in groups of 4 since I will be decreasing every 4 rows to begin with. At each 4th row, I make the note to decrease. I write 7 groups of 4's because I have to do this instruction 7 more times.

Then I write the next 4 row numbers with the decrease note on the second and fourth row, as the instruction says to decrease every 2 rows 2 times.

As I finish each row, I cross it off on my sticky note. When I have crossed off all the row numbers, it's time to move on to the next instruction in the pattern.

As you knit different types of patterns, you will inevitably run into instructions such as these examples. They may seem intimidating at first, but if you break them down into sections and write simple notations as I have done here, you will find following these directions much simpler than you ever expected. So now there is no need to shy away from patterns with decreases or other instructions that need to be done every so many rows. Just make notes and cross them off as you go. Even the most complex knitting pattern is worked just one row at a time, and you can do it!

Happy Stitching!

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  • I'm with ya. Sticky notes are my best friend too! You do learn tricks along the way.

    By Blogger Rumi, At August 24, 2009 at 7:31 AM  

  • Mary Grace!!!

    I just watched the video on Jacobs ladder! Thank You So Much!!!
    I had no idea of what to do... Now I do! ;-) And now I know who to ask for help... ;-)

    ~ Susan


    By Blogger Susan, At August 24, 2009 at 9:44 PM  

  • Mary Grace, I have come by to tell you I have given you an award.. I know some folks are award free blogs, but I just wanted you to know I love your blog :)Thank you for visiting me as often as you do :)

    By Blogger Unknown, At August 24, 2009 at 11:29 PM  

  • Hi Mary Grace,
    My mother-in-law was so nice and tried to teach me to knit. Alas, I was not able to grasp the knack of it. :-) She taught my daughter, though, and my mother crocheted and taught her to do that, too. I'll stick to quilting and embroidery but am very thankful that you can post tips on keeping track of decreasing rows on sweaters because I couldn't keep track of more than one row!! LOL!

    By Blogger Sandi Linn Andersen, At August 25, 2009 at 12:18 AM  

  • Hey Mary Grace,
    I'm with you on the post-it notes...it's so very easy to forget where you are...if I lay a project down, I try to remember to jot a note of where I am...or the hook I used, if it's crochet. You've been knitting for a long time...I've only been knitting for 3 years...LOL!
    Enjoy your week,
    Merry :)

    By Anonymous Merry Thornsburg, At August 27, 2009 at 12:06 AM  

  • Hi Mary Grace,
    What q great tip, so simple dont know why I never thought of it before. I usually jot some scribbled info on a scrap of paper but when I come back later someone has moved my work and a I havent a clue what is going on.
    Cheers Shelley

    By Blogger Angels Come to Play, At October 23, 2010 at 6:59 PM  

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