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The best tips for following knitting instructions are tips that make it easy for a knitter to read, understand, and execute the steps indicated by a knitting pattern. One important tip for knitters is that they should be familiar with the wide range of abbreviations and jargon that commonly occur within knitting instructions. It is also helpful to read through the entire set of instructions before beginning a project and to follow the instructions in a step-by-step fashion. Finally, knitters should learn to "read" their own stitches, or know what different types of stitches look like at a glance, and should also rely on tools like row counters and stitch markers whenever necessary.
To many new knitters, knitting instructions may appear to be an indecipherable string of letters and numbers. This is because knitting patterns tend to use abbreviations for the most common stitches, so that the knitter can glance quickly at the pattern and know what to do. Two basic stitches that knitters should know are the knit stitch, which resembles a letter "V", and the purl stitch, which resembles a horizontal bump. These stitches are abbreviated as "K" and "P," respectively, and are often followed by a number that indicates how many stitches should be knitted or purled. Although it is not an abbreviation, some knitters may be confused by the phrase "work even" that occurs often in knitting instructions; this simply means to continue working stitches in whatever pattern has been established previously.
Reading through all of the instructions for a pattern before beginning to knit can be helpful. This way, a knitter will be aware of what kind of knitting skills are needed to complete a new project, and can avoid making mistakes due to incomplete understanding of what the pattern requires. Knitting instructions also typically include a list of the materials required to complete a project, allowing the knitter to plan ahead and buy enough yarn yardage and appropriately sized knitting needles.
Knitting is often a slow process, and many knit garments are often crafted over a period of several days, weeks, or months. Often, the knitter will have to put her knitting aside and then pick it up again later. Often, each row in a set of knitting instructions has a different sequence of stitches, and it is often important to be able to determine which sequence of stitches was the last one knitted. This is when "reading" the knitting comes in handy. Knitters should learn to be able to look at their stitches and know what stitches are on the needles in what order.
Sometimes, however, reading the stitches in this fashion is not enough. In these cases, knitting notions like row counters or stitch markers can be very helpful. A row counter is a tool that allows knitters to keep track of the number of rows they have knit so far. Stitch markers are small rings that slide onto the knitting needles in between stitches. They allow knitters to mark where to make changes in the stitch pattern, such as where to place a cable or add an extra stitch.
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