1) Start off slow, and build on your success. There are only two basic stitches in knitting, the knit and the purl. Once you master those, you can move on to more complicated stitches, such as cable, mosaic, and Fair Isle.
2) Trust the pattern. Sometimes in a large pattern for an afghan or a sweater, it may be difficult to see how what you’re doing at that moment will translate into the pattern in the picture. Just keep going. It will usually turn out right. HOWEVER…
3) Trust your instincts. If you’ve been knitting for a while, you get a sense when a pattern is off. Mistakes do happen in publishing patterns. The author may have made a typo, the publisher may have transposed some lines. Double check, and if it’s something you can fix, make notes on the pattern.
4) Research. I was making a tank-top style shell when I came to a point where the number of stitches did not add up. Fortunately, the name of the author of the pattern was listed. I googled her name and found a website for her and e-mailed her. She confirmed it was an error and told me how to correct it.
5) Don’t be afraid to fix mistakes. There are two words knitters loathe. One is called “tink.” That’s knit backwards, where you unknit one stitch at a time. The other is “frog.” That’s where you have to rip out whole rows at a time. “Rippit, rippit, rippit.” Get it? You’re a frog. If it will bug you, undo it and redo it. You’ll spend more time fretting about the mistake than you will fixing it. BUT…
6) Don’t be afraid to accept mistakes. In beautiful Persian rugs, the weavers deliberately make an error in the pattern, because to make the rug perfect would be an affront to God, since only God can be perfect. If you are close to completing your work and you discover an error was made within the early rows, you may be okay to let it go. If you realize you are the only one who knows what the completed piece is supposed to look like, chances are no one will notice. I made an area rug for a friend where there was (to me) a glaring error in the first few rows. I showed it to my husband and he didn’t see it. I was able to cobble a few stitches over the mistake to make it look somewhat right and she loved it.
8) Be willing to try something new. There are thousands of different yarns out there and thousands of different colors. A cap made in red laceweight yarn will look much different from a cap made with bulky weight green yarn, even if it’s the same pattern. We learned by doing. I used to look a pattern and say “No, don’t know how to do that stitch” and skip over it. Now, I don’t have that excuse. Between Google and YouTube I can find out how to do a stitch and incorporate it into my repetoire.
9) Working for others is great motivation. When I am in between projects, I will try to knit little things, like coasters, just to try out new patterns. But there will be days when I don’t pick up my needles. But when I have a project for someone else, I will spend every night working on it, even if it’s just knitting a couple of rows. Because it’s not for me. It’s for someone else,
10) Take pride in your accomplishments. It may take months to complete a project. But when it’s done, it’s something that didn’t exist before, that you created. And that’s something to be proud of.
11) When you’re knitting in front of the TV, you’re not mindlessly snacking!!