Repeating Patterns

Repeating Patterns – Knit and Crochet

Repeats and Symbols

One of the most common errors that occur when reading repeating patterns is interpreting repeats. We use symbols, brackets, and parentheses as a way to simplify and shorten a pattern, and so it can be quickly referenced when working a row or round. In this blog post, we break down a portion of two different patterns that have several different types of repeats and help explain each repeat. You may want to pin this post for later reference.

Repeating patterns that use asterisks

The * is a starting point. The pattern will redirect you back to this point to repeat the instructions.
The ** is a stopping point. Usually, in the instructions, it will tell you to repeat the pattern until ** There will be finishing instructions for that row following the ** .

Repeating patterns that use parentheses

The ( ) indicates a separate set of stitches for a specific area. In this case, the parenthesis is telling you all of the stitches you will be working in the corner space.

repeating patterns with brackets

Repeating patterns that use brackets

The [ ] separate a series of stitches to be repeated across a specified area in the pattern. Some patterns have [ ] and ( ) coupled together.

Example: ( 3 dc [ch 1, 3dc] twice).

If it were to be written out, this is how it would look:

Long Form: 3 dc, ch 1, 3 dc, ch 1, 3 dc.

Another example: ( 3 dc [ch 1, 3dc] twice) 4 times. This one gets tricky, but if you take it slow, you can work it out easily.


This is how it would look

written out: 3 dc, ch 1, 3 dc, ch 1, 3 dc, 3 dc, ch 1, 3 dc, ch 1, 3 dc, 3 dc, ch 1, 3 dc, ch 1, 3 dc, 3 dc, ch 1, 3 dc, ch 1, 3 dc.

You begin the ( ) and be sure to complete in the internal [ ] amount of times required before you reach the end of ( ) for the whole repeat.

Depending on the designer and company, the [ ] and ( ) can be used interchangeably.

The # is a stopping point in the pattern. It will follow the starting point * until indicated in the pattern. There is a key sentence that a lot of people miss: rep from * 5 times more, ending last rep at #. Each pattern will tell you how many times to repeat and when to end the repeat. It is no different from the ** in a pattern, it is just used as another option when ** has already been used in a different part of a pattern for ease of understanding.

Another area of confusion is with repeats within a pattern. Many people get confused about how many times to repeat a set of stitches.
We will use the above pattern as an example again. It states: [ch 4, sc in next ch-4 sp] 6 times. This pattern is to be done 6 times. It would read, if fully written out, as:
ch 4, sc in next ch-4 sp, ch 4, sc in next ch-4 sp, ch 4, sc in next ch-4 sp, ch 4, sc in next ch-4 sp, ch 4, sc in next ch-4 sp, ch 4, sc in next ch-4 sp.

At the end of this repeat, you will have 6 sc in 6 ch-4 sps, and you will also have 6 sets of ch 4.

If they wanted the repeat 7 times, they could say 7 times or 6 times MORE. This largely depends on the designer and company.

Every designer and pattern company has a different style for writing and establishing patterns, so make sure to read your pattern thoroughly before you begin. Don’t ever be afraid to grab a sheet of notebook paper, if a certain repeat is confusing for you, and write it out if that is easier for you to grasp.

Try your new pattern reading skills with our How to Read a Pattern Series.  Download the Free Dishcloth Pattern and follow along with Part one of the How to Read a Pattern series and the video below. 

If you have more questions about patterns, symbols, and repeats, please call our Project Assistance Team At 1-888-442-226 or email us at caninfo@marymaxim.ca.

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