How to Follow Written Stitch Patterns in Knitting

2 of 11 in Series: The Essentials of Knitting a Gauge Swatch

In knitting, written stitch patterns include punctuation such as commas, asterisks, and brackets (or parentheses). The punctuation in knitting instructions mean more than you may think, however.

Here’s a punctuation translation for written stitch patterns:

  • Commas (,) separate single steps. The instruction “Sl 1 wyif, k5” tells you to slip a stitch with the yarn on the front side of the work, and then to knit 5 stitches as normal (meaning you have to move the yarn to the back before knitting, even though the instructions don’t tell you to).

  • An asterisk (*) indicates that whatever follows gets repeated (rep). For example, the instruction “K1, * sl 1, k3; rep from * to last st, k1” means that you knit 1 stitch, then you work the stitches between the asterisks (slip 1 stitch and knit 3 stitches) over and over until you reach the last stitch of the row, which you knit.

  • Brackets [ ] or parentheses ( ) function much like the asterisks, except that you’re repeating a series of stitches a specified number of times. For example, the instruction “* K5, (p1, k1) twice, p1; repeat from * to end of row” means that, after you knit 5, you purl 1/knit 1 two times, followed by another purl 1, and then you repeat this entire sequence across the entire row.

Written instructions give you row-by-row directions for a single repeat (rep). Here’s an example of a stitch pattern in written form:

Row 1 (RS): * K2, p2; rep from * to end of row.

Row 2 (WS): * P2, k2; rep from * to end of row.

Translation: On the first row (the right side is facing you on the first row in this pattern), you knit 2 stitches, purl 2 stitches, knit 2 stitches, purl 2 stitches, and so on to the end of the row. On the next row (wrong side facing now), you begin by purling 2 stitches, then knitting 2 stitches, purling 2 stitches, knitting 2 stitches, and so on to the end of the row.

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The Essentials of Knitting a Gauge Swatch

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