Tips from a Tech Editor No. 2
This time around my advice is all about giving instructions in a pattern where binding off is required mid row. This can be a real tripping point for less experienced knitters and clear pattern writing will save a lot of confusion.
The problem, which I am sure many are familiar with, arises from the fact that at some point the knitter finds that the stitch counts given and the stitches on the needle don't match.
I will show what I mean with a little example.
We have 50 stitches on the needles and the pattern says to:
Next Row: k10, BO 5 sts, k20, BO 5 sts, k10. (10 sts bound off)
If you look at that simply you see that 10 + 5 + 20 + 5 +10 = 50, and we had 50 sts to work, so what's the problem?
If this instruction is intended so that you end up with 10 sts, BO gap, 20 sts, BO gap, 10 sts then you need more instructions to be sure that's what a knitter will do.
This is because there are TWO common problems:
Let's say you never had to bind-off in the middle of rows before and this is what you do:
After knitting 10 sts you have 10 sts on your right-hand (RH) needle and 40 on the left-hand (LH) needle. You then go to bind off, so you knit 1 (the 11th st) and pass the 10th st over it. Now you have only 9 sts on the RH needle before the bound off sts, as you used one of the first 10 sts worked to work the BO - WRONG!
Even if you didn't make that "mistake", and you have 10 sts on the RH needle followed by 5 sts which have been bound off, this means you have 10 sts + 1 st on the RH needle. You go on with the instructions and then knit 20 sts, so after the bind off there are 21 sts on the RH needle .... WRONG!
The key here is that you need to convey that the knitter must work the first 10 sts and then start the BO. Two sts are needed to start a bind off, so they must knit 2 sts before passing a st over. That way, after the BO, there will be 10 sts + 1 sts on the RH needle (with the bind-off gap in between). Then they need to know that that first st on the RH needle after the bind off counts towards the 20 sts to be worked after the BO.
Many people see that this is problem, but do not know how to best address it. I would say that generally the problems are more likely to arise from "Problem 2" but that both problems need to be addressed.
There are two good options as solutions for "Problem 2". You can either change the instructions to say ".... BO 5 sts, k19 (20 sts on needle after the BO).... " that way they work 19 sts after their BO and the correct number of sts are worked. You could also go with ".... BO 5 sts, k20 (total of 20 sts on the needle after the BO)...".
I would personally prefer the first option, but both are giving the knitter enough instructions.
To address "Problem 1" you can either add a note in the row instructions themselves, or in a line above to explicitly state that two sts must be worked to start the bind off:
"...k10, BO 5 sts (work 2 sts to start the BO, leaving 10 sts on the needle before the BO), ...."
There is always room for personal style in writing your instructions, and I am not saying there are not other ways to get to this information across. It is also good practice to state the stitch counts pre and post the stitches bound off (and between the bind-offs, in this case) so that, again, the knitter has the right reference to help them understand what is expected of them, and what the end goal is.
The important point is to get the information across, your knitters will thank you for it. You will save them tinking back, or ripping out, or getting totally stuck when eventually something later on doesn't add up but they don't know where the mistake was, and who made it....them....or the designer....!