Skip Navigation

Click for Lion Brand Yarn Home Page
Our Yarns
The LB Collection
Martha Stewart Crafts
Lion's Pride Woolspun
Vanna's Collection
Our Yarns
Yarn by Weight
  • free patterns
  • special sales
  • new items
  • 15% off coupon
    US orders only
    view past newsletters   Click to view newsletters and subscription choice
Lion Brand
     Yarn Studio
     Retail Store, New York, NY
Lion Brand
     Yarn Shop
     Retail Store, Colonie, NY
Lion Brand Outlet
     Retail Store, Carlstadt, NJ
Find a Store
post code:
more options   Click for more store-locator options
Home : Community : Newsletters & Stories

Newsletters & Stories

Favorite Articles
Stories from the Prayer Shawl Ministry
Charity Stories

Click here to share your story.
Breaking It Down Stitch by Stitch
By: Barbara Breiter

You've completed a row and something isn't right. You have 2 sts left. Or you've completed the row but the pattern still has instructions for the row you haven't worked. You try it again and there's still a problem. What do you do?

It's possible there is an error in the does happen sometimes*. Or despite the fact that you've worked it twice now, you may be misunderstanding or skipping part of it.

If you break down the section or row by number of stitches used and number of stitches remaining (if there is an increase or decrease), it will be easier to determine if there is a pattern error or if it's a knitter/crocheter error.

Let's look at a couple of examples of how to do this.

Knit Cromwell Court AfghanCromwell Court Afghan

This pattern is worked over 114 stitches. At the end of this row, you should still have 114 stitches.

Row 3: K3, (k2tog) 3 times, (yo, k1) 6 times, *(k2tog) 6 times, (yo, k1) 6 times; rep from * to last 9 sts, (k2tog) 3 times, k3.

First, let's look at K3, (k2tog) 3 times, (yo, k1) 6 times,

There are 3 decreases (k2tog) and 6 increases (yo). You have used 15 stitches (k3, k2tog 3 times, k1 6 times [3+6+6]) and you have 18 stitches on the right needle now (3+3+12).

*(k2tog) 6 times, (yo, k1) 6 times; rep from * to last 9 sts,

This repeat has 6 decreases and 6 increases so the number of stitches used is the same as the number you have on your right needle for this section. The yo's compensate for the k2tog decreases.

There are 18 stitches used (k2tog 6 times, k1 6 times [12+6]) and 18 new stitches (6+12).

This section is repeated 5 times.

We know this because we started with 114 stitches, we used 15 stitches prior to the asterisk, and we will have 9 stitches left to work.

114-15-9=90 stitches worked over the repeat

90 divided by 18 stitches used=5

(k2tog) 3 times, k3.

There are 3 decreases and no increases. So the last section compensates for the 3 extra increases in the first section.
You have used 9 stitches (6+3) and there are 6 new sts (3+3).

So the total number of stitches used is 15+90+9=114
The total number of stitches you now have is 18+90+6=114

Let's look at a second example: a sweater.

Knit Inez CardiganInez Cardigan

This next portion of the pattern has a series of increases to shape the collar and decreases for the armholes and shoulders but it's not tricky to break down the number of stitches you should have. To make this example easier to follow, I've eliminated the multiple sizes in the pattern.

Shape Collar
Next Row (RS): K 6, inc 1 st in next st, place marker, sl 1, place marker, inc 1 st in next st, k to end of row – 43 sts.
Next Row: Purl.
Next Row: K to 1 st before first marker, inc 1 st in next st, sl marker, sl 1, sl marker, inc 1 st in next st, k to end of row – 45 sts.
Rep last 2 rows 21 more times

There are 2 increases each time the increase row is worked so 21x2=42

You had 45 stitches to begin; 42+45=87 stitches

The pattern continues: and AT THE SAME TIME, when piece measures 17 in. (43 cm) from beg, end with a RS row and shape armhole.
Shape Armhole
Bind off 7 sts at beg of next WS row. Work until armhole measures same as Back to shoulders, end with a RS row and shape shoulder.

You've eliminated 7 stitches.
87-7=80 stitches

Shape Shoulder
Bind off 6 sts at beg of next WS row and 6 at beg of following WS row – 68 sts.

You've eliminated 6 stitches 2 times.
80-12=68 stitches

Once you understand the pattern line by line, it will be easier for you to follow it and maintain the right stitch count. Stitch markers can be helpful when there are repeats, so that you can mark each section and keep track of them. If you determine that there is an error, you can send a note to the pattern's publisher so they can correct it in the future. By breaking down the pattern as we have above, you can also often determine what the correct stitch count will be so that you can continue working on your project.

Finally, if a pattern is frustrating you at the moment, take a break! Leave it and look at it with fresh eyes the next day. Often, when you come back to a pattern later on, it becomes obvious what the issue may have been.

*Editor's note: While we triple-check each pattern for errors here at Lion Brand
, an occassional one may slip through. If that happens, you can contact us via When we issue a correction, we include a note at the top of the pattern (for people who may have previously printed out the pattern, but we also incorporate the changes into the body of the pattern for new people downloading the pattern so that you don't have to worry about the correction.

Authored by Barbara Breiter

Barbara Breiter is the author of THE COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO KNITTING & CROCHETING. Find her online at
separator separator
Bookmark This!  separator
Sign up for our Newsletter  
separator Share This!  separator About Us separator Contact Us separator
  Font Size:   
Click to view page with standard font Click to view page with larger font Click to view page with largest font