I think we've got enough background information for the moment. Let's move on to the fun stuff!
I realize most of you probably are still choosing yarn, but I want to be a little ahead of you so you can see the direction we're going. And there's no rush for you, but there's a little one for me: in a month, I'll be leaving the country for 2 weeks and won't have any internet during that time! So I want to get the project well underway before that.
Well, I just couldn't make myself knit another pink sweater so soon after the big one I just finished. Just in case you forgot, here's a picture of me wearing it in the park on Saturday, holding the MOST adorable little maltipoo I met there, Hank:
Isn't he the sweetest? He's just 8 weeks old and only weighs 3 pounds!
Anyway, what was I saying? Oh yeah, the yarn. So I went out yesterday and got something I'm much happier with, and as soon as I got home I made a new swatch:
This is Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece in Banana. I've used this yarn several times before and I really love it. It's 80% cotton and 20% wool. I'm getting a gauge of 5 stitches to the inch with this one as well, although on a US6 (4mm) needle, so I won't have to change any of my sizing calculations - yay!
One of the reasons I think this pattern is a good one for a beginner is that every line is written out. When you print the pattern it can look a little daunting, but as you work through it you'll see that having each line written for you will help you stay on track.
To make it even easier, I mark up my pattern a little before casting on. First, I highlighted all the places where it says "pm" or "sm" ("place marker" or "slip marker"). Doing this will help you keep each section of every row separate, so that if you make a mistake, you can go back section by section to see where the mistake is. Here's how mine looks:
Now, with another color, go back and highlight all the numbers for the size you're doing.
I'm doing the medium size, so everywhere there are 3 numbers to choose from, I choose the middle one.
Now let's talk for a minute about how to read a pattern. I'll use one of the rows as an example.
Row 2: K2, yo, kfbl, pm, k0(1, 2), yo, k5, yo, k1(1, 2), pm, k0(1, 2), yo, k4, ssk, yo, [k1, yo, k2tog, k3, ssk, yo] 2 times, k1, yo, k2tog, k4, yo, k0(1, 2), pm, k1(1, 2), yo, k5, yo, k0(1, 2), pm, kfbl, yo, k2.
(57, 61, 67)
I've highlighted all the "pm" just like I did on my real pattern. Let's take it section by section. The first section says:
K2, yo, kfbl. I knit 2 stitches, do one yarn over, and then knit in the front and back of the next stitch. Then I place a marker on the needle after the stitch I've just made and go on to the second section:
k0(1, 2), yo, k5, yo, k1(1, 2). Now we start to see parentheses. In every place where there are parentheses, you will only be choosing one of the numbers: the first number for the Small, the second number for the Medium, and the third number for the Large. Place another marker after working this section.
k0(1, 2), yo, k4, ssk, yo, [k1, yo, k2tog, k3, ssk, yo] 2 times, k1, yo, k2tog, k4, yo, k0(1, 2). Here we have both parentheses and brackets. You will always treat parentheses as above. Sections within brackets are sequences that are repeated more than once. You work the stitches according to your size up to the bracket, then work the sequence inside the bracket twice: k1, yo, k2tog, k3, ssk, yo; k1, yo, k2tog, k3, ssk, yo. Then you continue and finish that section according to your size, then place a marker.
The fourth section is the mirror image of the second, and the last section is the mirror image of the first. You've placed 4 markers, which gives you five sections: two fronts, two sleeves and one back. Here's how my piece looks after this row:
At the end of this row are three numbers in parentheses: (57, 61, 67). These numbers tell you how many stitches you should have after working this row. In this row, all sizes have increased 10 stitches.
The pattern gives you end-of-row stitch counts every few rows, but for beginners, I think it's a good idea to keep track of how many stitches you have all the time: not only at the end of each row, but in each section too. So I've made you a present. I made a spreadsheet with stitch counts for every section and row. You can print this out and highlight the numbers for your size just like you did on your pattern. Keeping close track of your stitch counts will help you have a more successful result. Note that I only did counts for the right side rows: all wrong side rows are straight purl, and don't change the numbers at all.
I'm going to work a few more rows so I can show you the lace pattern next time. In the meantime, don't hesitate to leave comments with any questions you have, or if you don't want to do that, you can email me directly (see the Contact tab in the header). You're also welcome to join our Flickr group and start a discussion over there. I started an Introductions page yesterday, so chime in!