One of my favorite tools of the trade is good old graph paper. It is a simple way to organize yourself and keep track of where you are in your pattern. I have a very hard time keeping count and everyone in my house knows that when I am counting out loud they need to not distract me. Add that difficulty to counting rows, adding increases or doing decreases every few rows and it is imperative for me to employ some way to find my place when I pick up my knitting again. I also add other important information on the graph paper such as: name of the pattern, designer, date started, yarn used, needles sizes etc. All the information needed if you want to repeat the pattern later on.
Where the graph paper is the most useful is when you are given a set of directions that need to be repeated a specific number of times:
First Pattern Block
Row 1: K2, YO, P2, K to marker, M1R, SM, K3, SM, M1L, K until 4 sts remain, P2, YO, K2.
Row 2: K2, YO, K2, P until 4 sts remain – slipping markers, K2, YO, K2.
When the pattern says to repeat rows 1 & 2 a total of 5 times and then knit another row 1 again for a total of 11 rows, this is how I would keep track of these directions on my graph paper:
By outlining the blocks that coordinate with the rows I need to repeat, I will not have the chance to do more than necessary. I can also make note of my stitch count at the end of each row. That definitely helps when the designer includes that information in the pattern. NOW… the most important part is to make notes and not forget about why you took the time to set up the graph paper in the first place. I like to make my check marks after completing a row, not when I start it. I have been consistent with my habits and like most things in knitting, (and life) being consistent really pays off.
After finishing my project I like to save my graph paper along with the pattern for future use or reference when casting on a similar project. It has actually helped me many times, like when doing a special cast on and not remembering the best way to approach it if something didn’t work out properly the first time around I would have made note of it.
I hope you find that as helpful as I do!