I did a test knit this weekend of a beautiful little pattern for another knitter and this teeny weeny beanie and its bigger brother taught me some very humbling lessons. (Pictures and more details will be available when the pattern is released)
First, and I can't stress this enough...read the pattern! Sounds simple but you can end up with quite a different look from intended and redoing is just annoying.
Second, recheck the pattern as you start decreasing, make sure you've read it at least a couple of times. I managed to totally misread a section. It is the strength of the design that the finished result still looks good.
Third, remember to adapt your cast-on technique to the piece you are knitting and all the tricks of the trade that go with it. This is particularly galling as I had made the point since the beginning of the year to be conscientious about this.
Four, remember to test the gauge you're working at, even if you've worked this yarn a million times before. It is a funny thing that a knitter can forget to swatch and measure
gauge after four years of knitting. This is one of the classic mistakes
that you read about and like me, I am sure you have many stories of
walking on the wild side without swatching and coming up with a
disaster. Normally I am very good at swatching and take the time to
block my swatch and check my gauge.
I got the visual proof with these two beanies that my gauge on double pointed needles is different from circular knitting and circular knitting is different from straights. It also changes over time so while I've always been a tighter knitter on double pointed needles - surprise! This is no longer the case - ah the wonders of knitting.
So now I have one teeny weenie beanie that has wrong decreases and a slightly wonky brim but for all intents and purposes should be useable and its big brother got frogged under the fascinated eyes of my Big B. He loved the term "frogging" for unravelling the project in question.
So to sum up, think before casting on and don't just knit away unless you've knit in that pattern and wool many times before (even then it is worth taking a breath and preparing properly). I'm hoping to redo the little beanie for the upcoming new arrival - it is such a great little design.
However, I will leave you with a little photo of the baby blanket which is now 95% done....yippee! I cannot wait to block it and see what it is really like.