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. 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.
While no one wants to produce an error-riddled pattern, mistakes can happen. Next time you have a problem with a knitting pattern and aren't sure what's going on, go through these steps to see what went wrong.
Reread the Directions
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.
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.
Count Your Stitches
Sometimes knitting pattern problems are caused by user error or a mistake that you have made in reading the pattern Maybe you dropped a stitch or added a stitch inadvertently, which has made the stitch pattern multiple no longer work out.
When you have a problem with a pattern, start by counting stitches to make sure that number corresponds to the number you're supposed to have. Then, try to knit the row again to see if it comes out right.
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. Therefore, 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, 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 might 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. However, 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
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.
Additionally, don't contact someone who isn't the designer to ask for help with someone else's patterns. They don't know what the designer intended 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.