What to Do When You Have a Problem with a Knitting Pattern

Knitting needles and wool
HeikeKampe/E+/Getty Images

There are a lot of great knitting patterns out there, whether you're choosing from free pattern sources, buying patterns online or using patterns from magazines or books.

Most of the time these patterns are well written, and, in the case of paid patterns or those published in books or magazines, they are often test knit, tech edited or otherwise checked to ensure there are as few errors as possible.

None of us wants to produce an error-riddled pattern, but mistakes can happen. Typos, transposed numbers, or an instruction accidentally being left out are common problems that can happen quite easily.

And sometimes when you have a problem with a knitting pattern it's not the designer's fault, but because of a misunderstanding of what they want to be done or not getting all the instructions.

Here are some steps to try the next time you have a problem with a knitting pattern and aren't sure what's going wrong.

Try Again

Sometimes knitting pattern problems are caused by user error or a mistake that you have made in reading the pattern. Or maybe you dropped a stitch or added a stitch inadvertently, which has made the stitch pattern multiple no longer work out.

When I have a problem with a pattern, then, I start by counting my stitches and making sure that number corresponds to the number I am supposed to have.

Then I try to knit the row I'm having a problem with again and see if it comes out right.

Sometimes having a pattern not come out right is the result of not understanding the directions. Sometimes knitters use different abbreviations for different things, so check the top of the pattern for a key to abbreviations and make sure you're doing what the pattern wants you to do.

If there's an abbreviation, you don't understand or technique that's not explained, head to the Internet and see what you can find.

And make sure that if you printed out the pattern you have all the pages and they are in the right order. It's easy to miss an instruction or get confused if you don't have everything you need.

Check for Errata

Errata is a fancy word for corrections. Magazine and book publishers usually have errata on their websites when a problem with a pattern has been brought to their attention. Search the publisher's website or type the book or magazine name and the word errata into your favorite search engine.

Often the errata is worked right into digital patterns, with corrections being shown in bold or a different color, sometimes with the error still being shown but with a strike-through. That's why it's important to look at the pattern before you print it out and make sure you're getting the most recent version and if any instructions are in color that you don't print it out in black and white.

Look on Ravelry

Most knitting patterns these days have a page on Ravelry, and many knitters keep notes about projects they have knit on the social networking site.

This is great for you if you're having a problem with a knitting pattern because you can check to see if other people have had the same problem.

If you find the pattern on Ravelry, you can click on the tab that says "projects" and see what other people had to say. If they had trouble with the pattern, too, someone might have shared a solution.

Ask for Help

Ravelry is also a great place to get knitting help if you need it. Some designers have their groups, or you can find a group devoted to the particular kind of project you're knitting and ask for help there.

There are other knitting related forums and groups online, but Ravelry is the most active, and you may be able to get an answer quickly no matter where you live or what time of day it is. There are also Facebook groups devoted to knitting where you may be able to find help and support.

If you purchased a book or magazine from your local yarn store (or you bought the yarn there), that's another great place to go for help. Note: it is considered bad form to take a free pattern and yarn you bought elsewhere into the knitting shop and ask for help. If you bought either the yarn or the pattern there (or both!) someone at the shop would be happy to help.

Contact the Designer/Publisher

I put contacting the designer or publisher at the bottom of the list because really this should be a last resort move. The odds are great that someone else can help you.

That being said, if there are huge problems with a pattern, the designer or publisher will want to know, but don't expect them to be quickly available with troubleshooting support.

As a knitwear designer who this happens to a lot, I would also say don't contact someone who isn't the designer to ask for help with someone else's patterns. I (or anyone else) doesn't know what the designer intended, and I don't own or have experience with every knitting pattern ever published. It's a much better idea to go straight to the source if you have questions.

I'd also say to please be kind when contacting a designer or publisher about a problem you are having with a knitting pattern. We all strive to produce error-free content, but we are also all human. The Internet does not excuse your bad behavior. If you wouldn't yell in someone's face in person, don't do the equivalent online, whether in an email or on a forum.