Knitting Experience: Moving Stitch Markers to Finish Yo’s and Dec’s

One of the dilemma’s of writing patterns is how much information to include in patterns. American patterns in particular have a lot more instruction and direction than our European knitting brothers and sisters are used to. This can be good and it can be bad.

For the new knitter it is a boon, if you have  a well written pattern that teaches you as you go in many respects. However, it really isn’t the task of the pattern to teach knitting. In the end that is an awful lot to expect of one pattern. If you think of how much information is in one good knitting reference book, for just one technique. Plus, with many knitters being online, having good knitting references is but a Google search away.

One thing that has come up recently in one of my patterns is the question of how to handle a yo, sk2p, yo when it straddles a stitch pattern repeat. Where this confuses some is when it appears on a chart, and the yo is on one side of the line and the sk2p and other yo is on the other side of the line. If you stop and think about it, when you complete the sequence of stitches, that yo and dec that are on either side of “the line” from each other are exactly as they are charted. That yo is still at the beginning of that repeat. The dec is still on the other side of the stitch marker. And you have not gained or lost any stitches. The yo that you worked replaced the one you took to work the decrease.

The fact that you have to cross the line to snag a stitch to work the decrease really doesn’t matter. You are allowed to do that. The line is not a thou shalt not cross or the knitting police shalt skewer you with pointy needles kind of line. It is a reference point.

So for those that don’t know how to do it, here is how:

1. Slip the stitch marker off the needle that is in the way of working your yo, double dec, yo.

2. Work the first yo, then work the double dec.

3. Put the stitch maker  back on the right needle (remember, in this example the stitch pattern has the repeat  end after working the dec, the second yo is the beginning of the next rep), work the next yo and continue on your merry way with the next repeat.

I don’t mind including a paragraph in the general instructions on the pattern with a little teaching on how to handle this when knitters run into it because beginners really would not know, and I don’t know that I have generally read anything that specifically said hey, move your stitch markers. So I can see doing a little teaching in the general instruction for the benefit of the learning knitter.

I know there are patterns out there that tell people when to move their stitch markers every time they need to adjust them. To be honest there is a part of me that has hairs at the back of my neck raise at the thought that I should have to tell people to move their stitch markers every time this happens.

At a certain point we knitters have to take responsability for our knitting. It is my responsibility to learn a technique, it is my responsibility when learning something new to jot notes where needed. It is my responsibility to utilize what I have learned, and if I know I need a reference to remind me, it is my responsibility to take my highlighter and mark my chart, or jot notes on my pattern in areas where I have noted I need to pay particular attention after reading through the whole pattern before beginning. I know everyone does this this can be something that we forget to do, but it is our knitting. Read through the pattern, look at the charts. Mark up the chart and pattern with notes and stuff the way you like it . There is no way every designer can do it the way every single knitter likes it.

Some knitters like lots of handholding, others don’t. Some like certain types of information, some don’t. There is a reason I put the general instructions at the beginning of the pattern and don’t have it mixed in with the pattern directions. Less experienced knitters can refer to it for learning as they need it, more experienced knitters can see what is being used in the pattern, and the directions themselves are concise and easier to follow as there are not how to knit instructions or tips for better knitting mixed in with how to knit the garment instructions.

If a pattern tries to be all things to all people who are at all levels, it will ultimately fail. Even the best patterns can only meet part of the needs most of the time. The prime need of the pattern? To communicate clearly how to knit the item as pictured. The prime objective of the pattern at the end of the day should not be “okay, I have to think of every possible way in which every knitter could be confused or not know something so that I can control their knitting experience”.

The prime objective at the end of the day should be that the pattern be written clearly, concisely, and without errors…and that you have communicated how to knit the item as pictured, not that you are teaching someone to knit. Unfortunately, there are three types of Adult learners. As such, different styles of learning and therefore different styles of presentation are going to appeal to them. There is not going to be complete agreement on what a perfectly concise, clear, and well written pattern is.

A well written pattern is not meant to educate, it is meant to tell how to knit a particular item. That said, if there is an unusual technique or something that is not used frequently enough to be in a general reference, it should be included in the pattern so that it is not difficult to complete the design.

When I am knitting something, I don’t expect the pattern to do all the thinking for me. In the end I really think we need a balance. That is what I strive for in my patterns. I try and have a balance between “handholding” and not enough information.  Experienced knitters don’t need to wade through lots of extra instruction with each pattern, and less experienced knitters can use a little education to expand their skills and make them stronger and more confident knitters. I try and provide some extra information so that less experienced knitters will have more information that can help give them better results. Becoming an experienced knitter entails taking that knowledge and applying it so that you do not have to be told how to do something each time it needs to be done.

An obvious example would be a doorknob. We know to turn a doorknob in order for a door to open. Are you the kind of knitter that has to be reminded to grasp the knob firmly and turn the knob counter-clockwise towards the right until the knob stops and then push open each time you open a door, and do you have to be re-taught for each new style of door knob you see (hey, they all work the same, regardless of whether they are a lever or whether they are round,  or oval…but we don’t get freaked out by them like we do by our knitting).

Or are you the kind of knitter that looks at a new style door knob, or a door knob in a new situation and are able to recognize that yes, it looks new, but the mechanics are the same and I know how to apply this. I don’t need to be told how to do this each time. So you open the door confidently and walk through. Experience is about taking what you know and applying it.

I hope you open many knitting doors.

Peace and Knitting, JoLene Treace

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2 Responses to “Knitting Experience: Moving Stitch Markers to Finish Yo’s and Dec’s”

  1. Elly Says:

    A great post – I think I need to print this out and stick it above my desk, to keep me on track when I’m writing patterns!

  2. Magpie Eyes Designs » Blog Archive » *blip* Says:

    […] has a great post for pattern writers – “The prime objective at the end of the day should be that the pattern be written clearly, […]

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