What Does “Work Even” Mean?

What Does "Work Even" Mean?

Knitting and crochet patterns often say work even. What does “work even” mean? What about work even in pattern, or continue in pattern?

What Does "Work Even" Mean?

Learn what work even means and why it’s such a useful term to know.  

 

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Work Even Defined

In a knitting or crochet pattern, work even simply means “keep doing whatever you’ve been doing without increasing or decreasing”.

If you’ve been increasing, for example on a top-down hat, stop increasing and continue working on a constant number of stitches.

In this example of a crocheted top-down hat, the first five rounds have been increase rounds, but in Round 6, you stop increasing and start “working even” on 40 half double crochet stitches.

Rnd 5: Ch 1, hdc in same st and in next 2 sts, 2 hdc in next st, [hdc in next 3 sts, 2 hdc in next st] around, join with slip st to top of first hdc—40 hdc.
Rnd 6: Work even.

crocheted circle with increase rounds followed by a non-increase round

An alternative wording to this Round 6 might be:

Rnd 6: Ch 1, hdc in each hdc around, join with slip st to top of first hdc—40 hdc.

If you’ve been decreasing, stop decreasing and continue working on a constant number of stitches. Here’s a knitting example:

Rows 1, 3 and 5 (RS): K1, ssk, knit to last 3 sts, k2tog, k1—2 sts decreased.
Rows 2, 4 and 6: Purl.
Rows 7-10: Work even.

knitted swatch with a decrease section followed by a non-decreased section

An alternative wording here might be:

Rows 7 and 9: Knit.
Rows 8 and 10: Purl.

OR

Continue working in stockinette stitch without increasing.

Work in Pattern

Whether you’ve been increasing or decreasing, when you begin to work even, continue working in whatever pattern you were doing during the shaping.

    • If you were knitting stockinette stitch, continue knitting stockinette stitch.
    • If you were working double crochet, continue working double crochet.
    • If you were doing a fancy stitch pattern, continue doing that same stitch pattern, adjusting the edge stitches as necessary to maintain the pattern without interruption.

Sometimes patterns will say work even in pattern or continue in pattern. These mean the same thing. If the instructions don’t specify “in pattern”, but simply say “work even”, the “in pattern” is assumed.

Continue in (established) pattern is also used without meaning “work even”. In that case, it means that you should maintain the stitch pattern as established while the shaping takes place.

For example, after describing how to do a decrease, the instructions for the the Right Front armhole shaping on a crocheted sweater might say:

Continuing in pattern, decrease 1 st at armhole edge every row 2 (2, 2, 3, 2, 2, 3, 4) times – 34 (35, 38, 40, 41, 42, 42, 44) sts remain.
Work even until Right Front measures 3½ (4, 4¼, 4¾, 5, 5½, 6, 6½)” [9 (10, 11, 12, 12.5, 14, 15, 16.5) cm] from bottom of armhole, ending with a WS row.

Right Front sweater schematic with straight and decrease sections

After defining the particular stitch pattern used in a sweater, instructions for a sleeve might say:

Cast on 35 (36, 37) sts. Work even in pattern for 2″ [5 cm], ending with a RS row.
Next row (Inc Rnd, RS): K1, m1, work in pattern to 3 sts, m1, k1—2 sts increased.
Continue in pattern for 15 (13, 11) rows.

Repeat these 16 (14, 12) rows 3 (4, 5) more times—43 (46, 49) sts.
Work even until sleeve measures 7.25 (7.75, 8.5)” [18.5 (19.6, 21.5) cm].
Bind off.

sleeve schematic with straight and increase sections

Combined With Shaping

While the examples above show work even used after a shaping section, it can also be used to indicate how often to work shaping.

A crochet pattern might say:

Next Row (Decrease Row:) Ch 1, sc in first st, sc2tog, sc in each st to last 2 sts, sc2tog, sc in last st, turn—2 sts decreased.
Work even 3 rows.
Repeat these 4 rows 5 times.

A knitting pattern might say:

Next Rnd (Increase Rnd:) K1, yo, knit to last st, yo, k1—2 sts increased..
Work even 3 rnds.
Repeat these 4 rnds 5 times.

Work Evenly

Sticklers for grammar (and I am one) might be tempted to write “work evenly”. After all, work is a verb, and evenly is the adverb that would  modify work. Resist that temptation!

Work even is the industry term, or term of art, that we use to mean “keep going without changing stitch count”, while work evenly would mean “keep your stitches the same size”.

Work evenly would always be assumed, don’t you think?

work even definition

Why Do Instructions Use It?

So why do instructions use the term work even, rather than spelling out row-by-row instructions?

The term is a kind of pattern shorthand, in the same way that there are shorthand terms in recipes. The examples above are simple ones, but there are times in more complex patterns where spelling out every row or round would be cumbersome.

If your recipe says “beat eggs”, you understand that means to lightly mix the eggs and eggs yolks together. Unless you are a brand-new cook, you wouldn’t expect the recipe to say “lightly mix eggs and egg yolks together”. If all recipes spelled out instructions that much they would be too long!

In the same way, it can be shorter for pattern designers to write work even than to spell out each row or round.

And now that you know what work even means, you’ll be able to tackle those pattern instructions with confidence!

Want to learn more about knitting and crochet terminology? Check out Knit: Basics & Beyond and Crochet: Basics & Beyond.

 

 

 

Oceanid Cowl Free Knitting Pattern

A free knitting pattern for a cowl fit for a mermaid! Waves of sea green and turquoise froth around your neck in soothing bands of color.

This lightweight accessory is truly season-spanning. It’s also comfort knitting. The easy-to-remember four-round stitch pattern is meditative and relaxing.

Thanks to KnitPicks for providing the the yarn for this project. This post contains affiliate links.

 

About the Yarn

Use fingering weight gradient yarn, color-changing yarns, or a tonal pack of mini skeins as shown here. Or make a rainbow version using your sock yarn odds and ends.

Fine Weight Yarn-2 Craft Yarn Council

KnitPicks Stroll Tonal is a fingering weight wool blend. It’s a classic sock yarn made of 75% superwash merino wool and 25% nylon. The Stroll Tonal Mini Packs are available in a variety of beautiful colorways. I chose Aquarium for my cowl, but there are several beautiful color combinations to choose from.

Stroll Tonal Mini Pack in Aquarium colorway

Including the yarn I used for a swatch, I used about 10 g of colors A and E, and a bit less than that for the other colors. That works out to be about 38-48 yds [34-44 m] per each of the five colors.

My math says that you should have enough to make two cowls from one mini pack, as long as you only knit one swatch and you match the pattern gauge.

You do always knit a swatch, right?

About the Knitting

With US size 3 [3.25 mm] 16″ [40 cm] circular needles, cast on loosely and knit in rounds until you are finished. Matching gauge is always important, but it’s not crucial in this project. What could be easier?

I’ll tell you what could be easier: collect up your stitch markers and put a marker between each 11-stitch repeat. That’ll help you keep track of the stitch pattern!

The free knitting pattern is below. You can also purchase an ad-free printable pdf pattern that includes photos and a stitch chart.

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Oceanid Cowl Pattern

Size & Finished Dimensions

One Size: 26″ [66 cm] diameter x 5″ [12.5 cm] high

Materials

Fingering weight yarn: approximately 48 yds [44 m] each of five colors. Sample used KnitPicks Stroll Tonal Mini Pack (75% superwash merino wool/25% nylon, 3.5 oz [100 g], 462 yd [422 m], colorway Aquarium

US size 3 [3.25 mm] 16″ [40 cm] circular knitting needle or size to obtain correct gauge

17 stitch markers; one in a unique color

Gauge

Two 11-st pattern repeats = about 3″ [7.5 cm]; 48 rounds = 4″ [10 cm] in Wave Pattern

Gauge is not crucial in this pattern, but do match gauge for best results.

Abbreviations

A, B, C, D, E: color designations
k: knit
k2tog: knit 2 stitches together
rep: repeat
rnd(s): round(s)
ssk (slip, slip, knit): slip next 2 stitches one at a time knitwise, insert left needle into the front of these 2 sts and knit them together through the back loops
st(s): stitch(es)
yo: yarn over

Wave Pattern

(multiple of 11)
Rnds 1 & 2: Knit.
Rnd 3: *[Ssk] two times, [yo, k1] 3 times, yo, [k2tog] two times; rep from * around.
Rnd 4: Purl.
Repeat Rnds 1-4 for pattern.

Instructions

With A and circular needle, loosely cast on 187 sts using a long-tail cast-on and placing a marker every 11 sts. Place unique color marker to indicate end of round. Join for working in the round, being careful not to twist sts.

Set-Up Rnd: Purl.

Begin Wave Pattern, working four rounds each of colors A, B, C, D, and E. Work until piece measures about 5″ [12.5 cm] long, ending with color E.

Bind off Rnd: Remove markers as you work this round. With E, *bind off 4 sts, (yo, lift previous st over the yarnover to bind off, bind off next st) 3 times, bind off 4 sts; rep from * around. Fasten off.

Weave in all ends. Block.

Simple Sheep Hat Knitting Pattern

Simple Sheep Hat Knitting Pattern by Edie Eckman
Simple Sheep Hat design by Edie Eckman

These little sheep are ready for anything as they stand at attention around the base of this beanie.

This post contains affiliate links.

The Inspiration

A while back on this blog, I raved about the Alterknit Stitch Dictionary. Recently I was in the middle of planning for a new class I’m teaching at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival, and I was looking for a small project to work on while I think of new ideas for classes. I remembered these little sheep from the book, and knew they’d be perfect.

Alterknit Stitch Dictionary Andrea Rangal knitting
Alterknit Stitch Dictionary

About the Yarn

Fibra Natura Kingston Tweed is a lightweight wool blend with a bit of loft, like a traditional Shetland-style yarn. It’s 50% wool, 25% alpaca, 25% mixed fiber.

Kingston Tweed

Each 50 g ball of Kingston Tweed has 194 yards [177 m]. It took me about 150 yards of the main color and a total of about 35 yards of the contrasting color for one hat. I used some leftover colors from another project: less than one skein of #105 Ochre (MC) and #112 Basalt (CC).

Simple Sheep Hat closeup design by Edie Eckman

About the Construction

Knit the hat in the round from the bottom up. Use circulars and double-points, or the Magic Loop method, whichever you prefer.

It’s a great way to use up odd balls of leftover yarn and a fun and easy way to practice stranded knitting. There are only two colors on the stranded sections, and the patterns themselves are simple. The colorwork ends before the crown shaping begins.

Watch How to Work Stranded or Fair Isle Knitting for tips on holding one color in each hand for faster knitting.

About the Pattern

You’ll be using a chart for the colorwork. The interactive pdf includes links to tutorials for the Magic Loop and for stranded/Fair Isle knitting techniques. The pattern has been test knit and professionally tech edited.

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Please share images of your #SimpleSheepHat on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. Let’s see those sheepies!