This past winter I was working on a couple of different sweater projects that didn’t come from my own brain, which I love to do – because despite having practice at designing things it is always preferable to spend creative time with the results of other people’s creative brains at least some of the time. Also you get to make things, which is after all the reason to do anything creative if you ask me.
Anyhoo, both of the sweaters, Joist and Lempicka (which are I still haven’t quite finished, but I’ll just blow past that for the moment, lalalalaaaa) make good use of “at the same time” instructions for the sake of efficiency. Because when you have simultaneous armhole shaping decreases, neckline decreases, and cable pattern work all going on at once (as is the case with Joist, at the yoke), it becomes just too unwieldy to write that out row by row. The designer/publisher typically writes each piece of instructions on its own, tells you to work them “at the same time”, and then lets you figure out how to track that.
This, really, is the true essence of the difficulty level of “at the same time” instructions. Each individual piece – working a few decrease rounds to shape an armhole, for example – may not be very difficult on its own, but how you figure out simultaneous tracking for this is totally up to you. It’s not something that a pattern will typically do for you, and it’s a levelling-up experience for a lot of knitters. Ultimately, this is a moment where nobody else’s brain can replace yours. You can use row counter devices, make a visual schematic, find an old-school peg-board, whatever you want.
Personally, if it’s a more simple combination of steps, I tend to rely on a combination of visual reference of the pattern itself, and of the knitting work itself. (i.e. – being able to visually recognize what a decrease looks like, so I can count how many I’ve done). Otherwise, I scribble things. Above you can see my post-it note tacked to my Joist pattern notes, where I’m tracking (at the seamless yoke) armhole shaping decreases, sleeve-cap shaping decreases, and neckline decreases, and still need to be able to glance at the chart. So I made myself a post-it sized cheat sheet that I could keep right there. I use a combination of scribbled notes and ticky-boxes.
I’ve also come to realize that this is one of the things holding me back from fully committing to purchasing a tablet device (despite ooh-ing and aaaah-ing over them for several months now). I love being able to read patterns on PDFs, but haven’t yet learned how to replace the pen/ink/post-it-note scribbling that I do as a part of my knitting and designing processes. My brain still needs the scribbles, as it turns out. Can you scribble on a tablet? I look forward to discovering these things, now that we live in the future.
Happy knitting this fine Wednesday!