Thursday, September 2, 2010

Keeping Track, Part III

Keeping track during a project can be simple, such as using a stitch marker on an increase row and no stitch marker on an even row. Or making a tally mark on a  notepad for each row or round worked.

When I began to work on garments, I found that I needed a different method.  There are more things to keep track of when working on a garment.  So I sat down with a spiral notebook and my pattern.  I have found that breaking projects into smaller sections or tasks works well for me. I have 2 girls in elementary school and my schedule seems to be in spurts rather than long blocks of time. Smaller tasks make me feel productive rather than frustrated.

Most patterns begin with the Back, so I label a page in my notebook as Back, drop down and make a bullet point, and write out the first step, usually "Cast on X number of sts with Y needles and work in ribbing for W number of rows".  If there is a tricky stitch pattern, I jot that down, and if there are increases or decreases, I jot down the number of stitches I should have when finished.

The next section of the back ususally involves working in a stitch pattern for a certain number of inches or repeats, and may include decreases for waist shaping.  I put my bullet point, and a brief description of what I should do, and then I fill in numbers for each row that I should work.  I underline the rows that require decreases/increases.  Sometimes, I put the number of stitches that I should have as a superscript over each row.  At the end of the section, I put the number of stitches that I should have before the next section starts. 

As I work, I put a slash through each row.  After I've run to the bus stop for the girls, I know which row I did last and which row I should start with next and whether it is a decrease/increase row.

I do the same planning for each section of the pattern--waist to armhole, armhole shaping, neck shaping and final bind off.  This planning phase gives me the chance to visualize the work I'm about to do, and to know whether I understand all of the instructions.  It also helps me plan my time better around my fits and spurts of time.  If I need uninterrupted time to work on a section (such as the heel of a sock) and it's time to be Homework Mother, then I know I need to put that off and work on something that keeps my hands busy, but not my mind.

Another benefit of planning is to identify pattern errors.  I know that publishers and designers work hard to keep patterns error-free, but sometimes it happens.  As I was planning the sleeves for a cardigan, the stitch counts just wouldn't work out. Finally, I realized that there must be an error.  I logged into Ravelry and did a search for the pattern and found that others had experienced the same problems.  I was able to adjust before working and then having to rip back.

I'm including a picture of a planning/working page for a cardigan I've worked on.

I'd love to hear about any tracking ideas that have been useful for you.

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