Your browser is outdated. Upgrade to a modern browser to better experience this site.

Following a Pattern

Using repeat symbols in patterns shortens and simplifies the instructions, as well as providing a focal point to help you find your place when you return to the pattern after working a step.

Even the most intricate pattern can be easily completed when you understand style.

Guidelines to use when reading patterns:


  • Knitted items are made either in rows which are turned at the end and the next row is worked back in the other direction, or in continuous rounds which are joined at the ends and not turned.
  • When the instructions state around (for rounds) or across (for rows), this means the instructions will be repeated to the end of the round or row with no stitches left over.
  • When repeating between parentheses ( ), work the instructions inside the ( ) the number of times stated directly after the ( ). For example: (K 5, inc) 3 times.
  • If this were written out, it would read: K 5, inc, K 5, inc, K 5, inc.
  • When repeating from asterisks *, work through the instructions to the semicolon before the words ¦ repeat from *, ¦ then go back to the * symbol and repeat the instructions the number of times stated. For example: * inc, K 5, P 1; repeat from * 2 more times.
  • If this were written out, it would read: inc, K 5, P 1, inc, K 5, P 1, inc, K 5, P 1.
  • The instructions from the * were completed once, then repeated twice more.
  • When repeating between first and second asterisks *, go back to the first * symbol and repeat the instructions to the second * symbol.
  • These same repeats are also used in combinations. For example: *K 4, (yo, dec, K 1) 2 times; repeat from * 3 more times.
  • Working from the *, the first part would be worked, then the instructions in parenthesis worked twice, then all of it repeated three more times. Or another example could read: [K 1, P 1, *K 1, (P 2 tog, K 1) 2 times, P 1; repeat from *, K 1, P 1]; repeat between [ ].
  • To work this sequence of instructions, starting at the first [ , the two stitches are worked, then the K st following the *, next the instructions in parentheses are worked twice, then the P st, then the entire instructions from the * are worked, followed by the next two stitches, and then go back to the first [ and repeat the entire sequence to the ending ]. Entire rows (or rounds), or groups of rows are often repeated. For example: Row 12: Repeat row 4.
  • In this instance, to work row 12, look back and work the instructions for row 4 again.
  • Or a repeat may be written: Rows 24-42: Repeat rows 4-8 consecutively, ending with row 7.
  • To do this, look back and work rows 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 in consecutive order over again three more times, then work rows 4, 5, 6 and 7 again. This last repeat of row 7 will be row 42 when you count your completed rows.

    Special stitch instructions and abbreviations will be printed either in a Note or included in the row in bold type with a semicolon at the end of the stitch instructions. From this point on in the pattern, only the abbreviation will be used.

    Just remember to work the instructions carefully, one phrase at a time, from one punctuation to the next, the number of times stated, and be sure to start and finish each repeat at the correct point.

  • Learn Knit
    Share This Lesson question mark bubble