1. Don't let the pattern intimidate you
You find a design you love, but when you look at the pattern it has charts and looks like it's written in another language. What in the world is a SK2po? How do I interpret all those signs in the chart?
Knitting patterns often look scarier than they are. They have all sorts of unfamiliar terms and abbreviations, but once you decode it, you find that there is a pattern and it may even be an easy to understand pattern.
The first step when looking at a new pattern is not to let the pattern intimidate you. Just because you don't understand everything at first glance, doesn't mean you can't make it.
2. Read through the entire pattern
Don't get caught in the first paragraph, instead read through the entire pattern and try to get an idea of how the whole pattern progresses. After you read through it once or twice, go back and circle or underline the steps you don't understand.
I have a tendency to skip this step and just start knitting. This inevitably causes me problems later on as I have to go back, rip out sections and review the pattern. If you have an understanding for the entire pattern, it's easier to notice mistakes along the way.
3. Look up unfamiliar terms
I'm not sure how people learned to knit before the internet. How did you find amazing patterns without Ravelry? How did you learn new techniques without Google searches?
There isn't much of an excuse to not learn new knitting techniques with all the free information available with a simple Google search. You won't just find descriptions and pictures, but you can often find a YouTube video that walks you through the technique step by step. This can be especially helpful when you have no idea where to start with a new stitch or cast on method.
I often look up videos as a refresher for techniques I haven't used in a while. YouTube is your best friend when you're trying to learn a new knitting skill.
4. Take it step by step
Once you've read through the pattern and looked up unfamiliar terms, take the pattern step by step. Don't get ahead of yourself and start progressing through the pattern. When you get to the parts of the pattern with new techniques, refresh your memory by reviewing videos and instructions. If you take it one step at a time, you'll find that the intimidating, scary project isn't so hard after all.
5. Ask for help
Sometimes you get stuck with a pattern. You've looked it over a million times and the instructions just don't make sense. When you get stuck, don't give up. Instead, ask a more experienced knitter to help you interpret the instructions.
I used to get stuck all the time on patterns when I didn't understand what they were asking me to do. When I got confused, I always called my Mom for help. She was always able to help me figure out what I needed to do, even when she couldn't see the knitting project.
If you don't know other knitters, head to your nearest knitting store and ask the experts there for help. Join a knitting club and meet other knitters. Or email the pattern designer to ask for help.
Don't give up just because you can't figure it out on your own.