Picking up stitches is relatively simple when you get the hang of it. The rub comes when you painstakingly pick up a cardigan border or neckband according to your pattern instructions. You pick up the exact number of stitches called for, knit the correct number of rows given in the stitch pattern, and bind off the last stitch. Then, after all your effort, you find that your otherwise lovely cardigan has a stretched and droopy button band or that you can't squeeze your head through the neck of your pullover.
Your pattern tells you how many stitches to pick up around the neck, but it may or may not tell you how to distribute them: so many along the back neck, and so many along the left and right front neck edges. It may be up to you to figure out how many stitches to pick up where. Also, if the gauge on your border pattern is different from the sweater designer's, or if you alter the pattern in any way, your border may not fit as planned. Use your pattern as a guide, but keep a critical eye on your own work. At the first sign that your band is starting to gape or your neckband is shrinking the neck opening, be prepared to toss your sweater map in the backseat. Resolve to pick up stitches according to your knitted pieces, not according to your pattern. Just remember that if you're changing the number of stitches to pick up, you must come out with a number that works as a multiple of your stitch pattern.
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