Picking up stitches is not hard and I actually like doing it a lot now that I learned one trick about it.
I went to my first ever knitting class this last spring, it was about finishing. I had been finishing things on my own for many, many years, but thought maybe I'd learn something, and if not that it would be fun. I did learn a few things.
One I like is about picking up stitches. The teacher said she always used picked up bands on sweaters, even if the pattern called for 'self' bands. She adapted the pattern and picked up, saying it made a sturdier band. She also said to forget about how many stitches the pattern says to pick up and just pick up the number that naturally wanted to be picked up.
I'm giving you a link to the page here at Knitting Help that had a free video about how to pick up stitches
. Scroll down to where you find it. Pink camera is how to do it holding the yarn in the left hand. Blue is how to do it if you knit holding the yarn in the right hand.
After you see how to do it (if you can't use the video for some reason, come back and tell us), here is how I proceed. The pattern will tell you how many stitches to pick up. Don't sweat that number (unless you want to
) just pick up how many want to be picked up, and you usually want to use a needle 2 sizes smaller than the one you knit the body of the sweater with (that is the rule of thumb, I have varied that as needed). You want the button/buttonhole bands to be a little shorter than the body of the sweater, the smaller needle and the skip method will accomplish that.
If you are doing the right front (RF as worn) begin at the lower right edge of the front and pick up the first stitch you can at the bottom. That counts as one. You want to pick up 3 stitches in a row and then skip the next spot that looks like where you should pick one up. Our teacher skipped around the room singing 1,2,3, skip to help us remember the formula.
Pick up three, skip one, pick up three, skip one all the way across. When you get to the end, if the numbers don't fit it there just right, just do what seems best and it will be fine. If you wanted to do something like a K2, P2 rib it would be important to have a multiple that would work out exactly (if in doubt you can always pick up what they tell you to.
). With K1, P1 rib it doesn't really matter and neither would garter, or seed stitch edges.
If the number you picked up is WAY off from the number they had suggested and there is not a good reason for that, for instance you made the body longer or shorter than called for, you may want to reconsider, but chances are you will be in the ball park and have a perfect number for a nice flat edge.
The hardest thing about picking up the stitches is getting the number they call for, you can do it by sectioning the front up and figuring out what % of your suggested number must go in each section. Or not section it up and guess and possibly need to do it over several times, which is why picking up can get unfun. Or...you can try what I suggested and do what comes naturally and relax about it.
Have fun. Baby sweaters are my first love.