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How To : read a knitting pattern (children pattern)

As surely many of you, I learned to knit by making scarves, or snoods, which does not require a pattern. The important thing is to train on the different stitches, being as regular as possible. To be honest, I never enjoyed knitting at that time.

When I was pregnant, I began to take a little more interest in what my friends were knitting. I was impressed by all the jumpers and cardigans they made, whether for them or for their children. But when I looked at a pattern, I was scared in advance. So I had the good idea to ask them for help, and they showed me that it is actually quite simple to read a pattern! Several people told me that they were experiencing the same thing, and that they needed help.

I decided to decrypt with you two knitting patterns (which are available as a free download of course) so that you too can get started! In this first article, I will use a children pattern, and a second will follow with an adult pattern.

The first page of the pattern consists of all the information necessary for the good realization of this knitting. It should be read carefully before you even start knitting. Let’s look at the whole.
– The finished measurements correspond to the finished measurements that your knitting must have. This is not always indicated (especially in children’s patterns), which is not always practical. But here they are. The measurements are important because they will allow you to check where you are at during your knitting, and if you knitted enough.
For example, for the length of the sweater, some designers speak in number of rows, but now the majority speak in number of cm “knitting like that until the length is 20 cm” for example. In addition, when you block your project once it is finished, you can, using pins, put your project to the dimensions provided in this diagram.

– On the right, you can see in yellow the descriptive Abbreviations that will be used in this pattern. English speaking designers use a lot of abbreviations, which can be a bit scary at first when you look at the pattern, but it is actually much simpler to understand once they are memorized. They are sometimes on a separate page, at the very end of the pattern.

– Then, there is the Sizing which corresponds to the description of the sizes provided. This pattern offers two sizes: birth-3 months and 3-6 months. Each size will be written in the pattern, and you will have to be careful to follow the right one when you read the instructions. For example, if we knit the birth size-3 months, we will always have to look at the instructions corresponding to the first size mentioned in the pattern.

The tension part is very important because this is your sample. This part is usually written under the name of Gauge, but not in this pattern. You do not know what a gauge is and what it is made for? I advise you to read this article to understand more about it. The gauge for this pattern corresponds to 22 stitches for 4 “(10cm) in stockinette stitch, and 22 sts also for 4” in garter sts. The rows are less important than your stitches, because the pattern counts the length in cm and not in rows. On the other hand the stitches are very important because they will determine the width of your knitting!

– At the bottom of the page : the Suggested Yarn is here to give you an indication on the yarn that is recommended. Note that you can choose the yarn you want, as long as the gauge matches. Yardage gives you the indication of the quantity of yarn that is needed for the project : each number corresponds to a precise size. It is usually noted in meters and in yards. For birth size-3 months it takes 220 yards of main color (or 250 yards) and 50 yards of contrasting color (or 50 yards).

– And finally, the Needles and notions list you the material needed to make this pattern. Here you will need, for example : a pair of 4mm circular needles, another one of 3.75mm (everything will again depend on your gauge, this is just an indication), but also a stitch marker, two 18mm buttons etc.

Now that you have the material, that your gauge matches the one from the pattern (don’t forget to block your gauge to be sure before counting!), it’s time to get started! Obviously, I advise you to read the entire pattern before you even begin to knit in order to be sure to understand everything. The Construction notes section explains the construction of the pattern. It is often written on the front page, but here it is written just before starting the knitting. Constructions are usually either top-down or bottom-up, except if you choose a pattern that is knitted flat. In this pattern, the construction is top-down, with the body knitting flat (because it’s a cardigan) and sleeves knitted in the round.

After that, you just have to follow the instructions exactly. Everything is written in it : the needles to use (the colour if you have several), the cast-on method that is recommended. You just have to knit each row as explained. 
As you can see, all the steps are divided into parts : start with the neckline, then divide the body and sleeves, knit the body, then knit the sleeves. It is by trying different constructions that you will find the one you will prefer.

I hope this article will help you get started! Do not hesitate if you have any questions!

Good day to all!


  • 8 June 2017

    Ton article est très intéressant comme toujours j’adore te lire. Je préfère aussi le tricot en anglais 🙂 Les constructions sont souvent plus intéressante (pas de couture) et les instructions beaucoup plus claires.
    Par contre il y a une petite coquille 1 mètre n’est pas égal à 1 yard 😉

  • 8 June 2017

    Merci Anna pour ce super article qui tombe à pic!! Il est très aidant, tout comme celui sur les abréviations! Pour ma part, ce que je trouve difficile est de comprendre les abréviations concernant les différents types de laines et comment savoir les substituer.

      • 10 June 2017

        Je voulais dire lorsqu’une marque de laine bien précise est spécifiée pour un modèle et qu’il n’est pas possible de la trouver. Je cherche généralement la composition et essaie de trouver la même, mais ce n’est pas toujours évident pour moi! (je ne dois pas être très logique!! :P). Merci pour ta référence, je vais aller voir!

  • 12 June 2017

    Bravo pour ce bel article ressource!

  • 20 June 2017

    Merci pour cet article, c’est très bien détaillé et intéressant.
    Félicitations pour tout ce que vous faites.
    Bonne continuation

  • 3 July 2017

    Bonjour Anna,
    Merci pour cet article, je débute en tricot et j’ai beaucoup de difficultés à tricoter des pulls en anglais mais aussi en français 😉
    Je suis ravie d’avoir enfin un tuto pour tricoter en anglais, j’attends avec impatience le tuto pour le pull taille adulte, pourriez vous aussi expliquer le raglan.
    Je vous remercie pour toutes les explications et le savoir que vous transmettez.
    Bonne continuation.

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