If you have taken any class from Twistedista Cheri in the past, you know she highly encourages everyone to mark up their patterns - and she is not alone! Parna's sweater classes involved lots of highlighters and pencils as well. Why? Because a bit of prep work makes it so much easier to concentrate on the actual project as you're knitting.
One note before we get going: If you're using a printed pattern, keep the original untouched and mark up a photocopy. If you're using a PDF on your tablet, save a duplicate and rename it with the date and some detail like the yarn and who it's for. If you have a PDF of the pattern but are working from a printed copy, you might want to take photos or scan in your notes when you're done so you can keep the info electronically but pitch the paper.
The number one reason to mark up a pattern? Flagging which size you're making. If you are making a garment that comes in a number of sizes, this should be the very next thing you do after a gauge swatch.
Pick up your trusty highlighter and mark which size you are making by reading line by line through the entire pattern from very beginning to the very end. No more inadvertently using the wrong number and no more flipping back and forth to try to remember if you're using the sixth or seventh size. Don't stop there: cross out stuff you don't need, too! 🤯
One of the greatest perks of making your own stuff is that you can customize a project to your tastes. Not into crop tops? No problem! Just go a few more rows! Prefer 3/4 length sleeves? Easy - stop a few rows early. Not into a cuffed hat brim? This is also easily achieved!
Making notes will help you remember what you're tweaking from one evening to the next. PLus if you ever want to make that project again, leaving yourself notes is ESSENTIAL.
Those of us cursed by being looser or tighter than average with gauge will normally use a hook or needle other than what the pattern specifies. In a perfect world we would always know we go up or down a size, but sadly, the world isn't perfect. Take the 10 seconds necessary to write down what size you ended up using to create your masterpiece. More times than you'd think it comes in handy later on.
In addition to using post it notes to help you keep track of your row, highlighters can also be a fabulous way to make reading charts easier. For cables, you can use a different color for each symbol in the chart AND the key. You can also use this for different stitches or color work charts, too...
Digital pattern lovers rejoice! There are ways to mark up your non-paper patterns, too. The Notability app is one that gets lots of shout outs for its ability to sync across devices in addition to being able to cross off rows and zooming in. Bonus - you can easily erase and redo markings if you mess up.
Not looking for an app? Most devices have some sort of native markup option that you can use the same way you would with paper, pencils and highlighters. Basically, look for the features you need and if you have to buy, it's usually a good investment of a few dollars. "Autosave" was the main reason for one of our Twistedista's to pick the app they use but for someone else it might be the ability to sync between devices.
Your future self will thank you for leaving notes on about everything. We promise.