Editing Knitting Patterns

Tell me I’m not the only one… Any time I knit a pattern, I make edits to it along the way, sometimes minor, sometimes severe. Sometimes, it bites me in the butt. Other times, it adds something to an otherwise (intentionally) plain pattern. And sometimes it’s necessary.

Leafy Accordion Hat

photo_medium2Two patterns that I recently edited were out of necessity. In the first case, I needed to knit a winter hat for my daughter due to the change of weather and chose an adorable free hat pattern created by Charlotte Bouchet, “Leafy Accordion Hat.” However, because my daughter loves nothing more than to take off of her head anything I put on it, I decided to add ear muffs and straps so I could tie it under her chin like a bonnet to prevent removal. I thought the best way to accomplish this would be to knit it top-down instead of bottom-up. If you’re interested in doing the same, I included the detailed pattern instructions for doing so on my Ravelry Project Page. However, in the process of knitting it top-down (thank God I chose to do it this way—it ended up saving a lot of time), I discovered that the top of the hat was actually the appropriate size for a toddler hat according to Craft Yarn Council Standards when knitted at the “0-3 month” size listed in the pattern. I ended up relying on CYC Standards to be sure I knitted it the appropriate size for a toddler, which was “0-3 months” for the top and “18-24 months” for the sides.

Toddler Mittens on a String

photo (1)The second pattern I edited out of necessity was a mittens pattern. Again, I chose a pattern to knit for my daughter because of the cold weather. In this case, she needed mittens. I found a free pattern that I liked, Toddler Mittens on a String by Ruth Bendig. They needed to match a cardigan I had previously knitted for her, so I significantly altered the cuffs and the colorwork pattern (the original mitten pattern involved no colorwork) but followed the pattern exactly for everything else—the number of stitches to cast on, the number of rows following the cuff before beginning the thumb gusset shaping, the number of stitches for the thumb gusset, etc. However, I quickly discovered that what another commenter had said about the mittens being too small was very, very true. I assumed a pattern that was too small for toddlers would fit my 15-month-old, whose hands are a little smaller than 12-month size. However, it was WAY too small. I considered using mitten size standards to make the mittens a standard size, but chose instead to simply knit them to fit my daughter’s hands with 0.25 inches growing room. (I detailed the exact measurement issues on my Ravelry Project Page if you’re interested.) Nevertheless, the pattern was great as a specific guide on working the thumb gusset increases. Aside from the cuff and colorwork changes I made as necessary to match the previously-knit cardigan, the only other changes I made were the total lengths of the mittens and the lengths of the thumbs.

Recommendations for Edits

In my experience, your best bet prior to making any edits to the project is to follow three very important rules:

  1. Read Carefully. Before making any edits, very carefully read and re-read the pattern to be sure you really understand what it’s calling for. Only if you understand what it should look like (for example, how many stitches and rows to expect if you’re adding colorwork) or how it should work can you make any intelligent edits.
  2. Look Up Size Standards. If you doubt the size, look up standards to be sure. For example, I thought the first pair of mittens I knitted were too large, but they ended up being appropriately sized for a 6-month-old as expected. However, the second pair of mittens I knitted, the ones described above, were far too small.
  3. Consider the Source. Generally speaking, in life, you get what you pay for. This isn’t always true in knitting patterns, where some paid patterns I’ve purchased were of a lower quality than some free patterns I’ve used. However, a paid pattern has often been test-knitted and standardized to size, whereas free patterns may follow any standard or no standard. When selecting a pattern, look up the comments of people who’ve knitted it. You may find, as I did, that you are not the only one who found the size to be incorrect or other issues. If you do your homework ahead of time, you may save yourself some grief.



2 thoughts on “Editing Knitting Patterns

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