Charts. I prefer working from charts rather than text. It's the main reason I avoid Sirdar patterns although Sirdar seems to be the most error-free of the pattern publishers. Charts make it possible to see where you're going and where you've been.
There are a number of conventions used in charting that I've grown to trust and rely on. Symbols tend to be fairly uniform now so it's easy to use information you already have to read charts from different companies.
I think that was the reason I had so much trouble with the lace pattern I'm currently using. The symbols are easy to understand. It's the chart itself that's the problem. Usually symbols tell you everything you need to know, including where you're going to get the stitches you need to do the pattern. The vertical rules that tell you what section to repeat are generally reliable. That's the conventional wisdom.
That just hasn't been the case with the pattern I'm using. There's a symbol that tells you to do a double vertical decrease, S2KP (slip two as if to knit, knit one, pass the two slipped stitches over). The symbol kind of reminds me of the peace symbol from back in the hippie days.
I finally figured out that the stitches I need are actually in the section adjacent to the repeat. If I hadn't been using markers (conventional wisdom again) I would probably have had no problem. As it is, I have ripped the first sleeve for the third time. I'm much happier with how the whole thing looks now. I'm glad I wasn't working the back though since there are about 20% more stitches than on the sleeve.
I was going to post a picture but the batteries need to recharge. Anyway, I'm done talking about this so there won't be any mention of it for a while. I need to spend some time on something else. Tomorrow is Dulaan Day so maybe I'll work on the sweater and get stuff together for some more hats. And there's that poncho, er, beach cover-up that I need to get back to. And a shop sample from Nicky Epstein's Fabulous Felted Bags.