The Most Misunderstood Thing about Knitting & Crochet Patterns

There’s one thing that can tie a knitter or crocheter in knots: confusing wording in a pattern. And the most misunderstood thing about knitting and crochet patterns is how pattern repeats are described.

There are some commonly accepted ways of describing repeated sections in a pattern. If you don’t understand this conventional “patternspeak”, you might be confused. But even if you understand it, sometimes the pattern writer doesn’t follow the conventions, leaving you to figure out what they mean.

The problem occurs in both knitting and crochet patterns. I’ll show examples of both.

When the Pattern Creates Confusion

Row 1 (RS): *K4, p6; rep from * a total of 5 times, k4.Here’s an instruction you might see in a pattern:

Row 1 (RS): *K4, p6; rep from * a total of 5 times, k4.

Row 1 (RS): Ch 3 (counts as dc), dc in next 4 sts, *sc in next st, dc in next 2 sts; rep from * a total of 5 times, dc in each st to end.

As an experienced crafter, I’ve got to say this wording drives me absolutely crazy. How many times am I supposed to “k4, p6”, or  “sc in next st, dc in next 2 sts”?

From experience, I think the pattern writer intends you to do the sequence of stitches—k4, p6 or sc in next st, dc in next 2 sts—a total of five times. But that’s not what the pattern says.

Using Brackets & Parentheses to Show Repeats

Brackets or parentheses can be used to group a sequence of stitches and to tell how many times to do that sequence, as they do in these examples:

Row 1 (RS): [K4, p6] 5 times, k4.

Row 1 (RS): (K4, p6) 5 times, k4.

Row 1 (RS): Ch 3 (counts as dc), dc in next 4 sts, [sc in next st, dc in next 2 sts] 5 times, dc in each st to end.

Row 1 (RS): Ch 3 (counts as dc), dc in next 4 sts, (sc in next st, dc in next 2 sts) 5 times, dc in each st to end.

Using Asterisks to Show Repeats

Asterisks are used to show a point of repeat, and are usually used together with “rep(eat) from * “to show the full repeat.

Row 1 (RS): *K4, p6; rep from * 4 times, k4.

Row 1 (RS): Ch 3 (counts as dc), dc in next 4 sts, *sc in next st, dc in next 2 sts; rep from * 4 times, dc in each st to end.

Here, the number of times to do that sequence seems to have gone down, but in reality this is the exact same instruction you’ve seen above. How can that be?

In these examples, you do the sequence of stitches once, then you repeat that sequence four more times, for a total of five times. You can’t repeat something you haven’t done before.

Another Point of Confusion

You can't repeat something you haven't done beforeSometimes you’ll see asterisks used this way:

Row 1 (RS): *K4, p6*; rep between * * 4 times, k4.

Row 1 (RS): *K4, p6*; work between * * 5 times, k4.

Row 1 (RS): Ch 3 (counts as dc), dc in next 4 sts, *sc in next st, dc in next 2 sts*; rep between * * 4 times, dc in each st to end.

Row 1 (RS): Ch 3 (counts as dc), dc in next 4 sts, *sc in next st, dc in next 2 sts*; work between * * 5 times, dc in each st to end.

As an experienced pattern writer and a tech editor, I steer clear of this construction. It offers the same opportunity for confusion as previous examples, and it adds more *’s than the eye can easily track.

However, if you do see this “between **s” construction, pay careful attention to the wording used to make sure you are following the repeats correctly.

The “Repeat” Paradox

Let’s go back to our original confusing instruction:

Row 1 (RS): *K4, p6; rep from * a total of 5 times, k4.

Row 1 (RS): Ch 3 (counts as dc), dc in next 4 sts, *sc in next st, dc in next 2 sts; rep from * a total of 5 times, dc in each st to end.

Can you see the contradictions? If you repeat the sequence of stitches a total of five times, you’ve done that sequence a total of six times. But if you do the sequence a total of five times, you’ve only repeated them four times.

You’ll have to use clues to figure out what the designer means to happen.

In the knitting example:

If you have 54 stitches on the needle, you can work the k4, p6 sequence five times, which will use 50 stitches, then knit the last 4 stitches, for a total of 54 stitches.

If you have 64 stitches, you’ll work the k4, p6 sequence once, then repeat it five times, then knit the last 4 stitches, using up all 64 stitches.

In the crochet example:

This one is harder to figure out, because the row ends with “dc in each dc to end”, which leaves the number of total stitches unknown. You will know how many stitches you have in the row. You’ll have a good idea of whether you are supposed to be working all the way across the row. Using this information, you will have to figure out what balances the stitch pattern on the row, and how many total repeats you can fit it, then go with that.

See? It’s not ideal wording.

A Solution

Row 1 (RS): Ch 3 (counts as dc), dc in next 4 sts, *sc in next st, dc in next 2 sts; rep from * 4 more times, dc in each st to end.There’s an easy wording solution that helps clear up all of this confusion, and that is using the word “more”:

Row 1 (RS): *K4, p6; rep from * 4 more times, k4.

Row 1 (RS): Ch 3 (counts as dc), dc in next 4 sts, *sc in next st, dc in next 2 sts; rep from * 4 more times, dc in each st to end.

See how easy that was? It reminds the crafter that they are doing the thing then repeating the thing a certain number of times.

Even if the word “more” is not included, now that you understand repeats you can head forth confident in your knowledge of how many times you’ll do those instructions.

Let’s spread the word that you can’t repeat something you haven’t done yet. It will clear up the confusion for everyone!

20 Tips to Make the Most of Your Next Knitting or Crochet Class, Part 2

In Part 1 of this article, you read about how to prepare for a knitting or crochet class, and you’ve gotten yourself to class. The things you have done to this point will enhance your ability to learn new skills .

Now let’s explore what you can do during and after class to learn as much as you can, and to remember what you learned long after class is over.

During Class

Tip #11 Relax

This isn’t rocket science. It isn’t school. There are no grades or tests. It’s not a race, so it doesn’t matter how slow you are. You can’t fail; you can only succeed to a greater or lesser degree.

The teacher is there to help you. They want you to be happy. Your fellow students want you to be happy. They aren’t paying attention to what you are doing or how fast you are going, because they are too worried about the same things you are.

Breathe. Relax your shoulders. Breathe. Roll your neck. Breathe. Stand up and stretch. Smile. This is going to be fun.

Tip #2 Be a good neighbor

If you are chatting with your friend or seatmate, you may not be paying attention when the teacher says something important. You may be distracting others or making it difficult for others to hear.

Limit side conversations and comments to times when the whole class is working quietly. Keep those conversations low-key and low-volume. Save the chatty catching-up talk for after class, over a cup of tea—or a glass of wine.

If you need help, it may be fine to ask your neighbor a quick question, but don’t expect them to teach you.

If your neighbor is bothering you, let them know politely. Rather than accusing them of being too loud, try starting with a “me” statement – something like, “I’m having trouble hearing. Could you please speak more quietly?” If they keep asking questions and distracting you from your work, say, “That would be a good question to ask (teacher’s name).”  If that doesn’t work, have a private word with the teacher; they may not have realized that there was a problem.

Tip #13 Ask for help the best way

The teacher wants to help you, but there may be a lot of people in class needing help at once. If the teacher is making their way around the room, you may be able to wait your turn until they get to you. You may need to raise your hand to get the teacher’s attention.

If you can’t see or hear tell the teacher, let them know.

If you are frustrated or don’t understand, don’t stew in silence! Teachers try their best, but they aren’t mind readers; let them know your needs. Chances are, if you have a question, others have the same question. Asking it aloud and having it answered will help the whole class.

At the same time, this isn’t a private lesson. The teacher is there to teach the whole class and has limited ability to help each individual student, depending on time and class size. Teachers can’t do remedial technique instruction for unprepared students. That’s what the prerequisites are for!

Tip #14 Be patient

Be patient with yourself. You’re learning something new, and you won’t be perfect at it the first time—or the second, or even the third. You learn more by making mistakes than by not making mistakes.

Learning as an adult is frustrating. We’re used to being competent in our daily lives. Typically we are not in a learning mode. Learning requires being vulnerable, and that’s an uncomfortable feeling. It’s OK not to master something immediately, and to feel unsure of what you are doing.

Realize that every time you do something new, you’ll be achieving a new personal best. The “perfect” student knows this and revels in their mistakes, because they know they are learning!

Tip #15 Pay attention

When the teacher is speaking to the whole class, stop working. Listen and watch.

Stay off your cell phone. Don’t record audio or video of the class without permission. Recording is not only impolite and sometimes illegal, it also distracts you from the instruction being offered. If you are taking notes on your phone, let the teacher know that’s what you are doing.

If you know much of what the teacher is saying, listen anyway. There is always something new to learn. It may be in the way the familiar information is being presented. You may pick up tips and tricks that refine a technique that you thought you knew well.

After Class

Tip #16 Use what you learned.

Don’t just read the handout, do hands-on practice. Even better, start—and finish—a project using the latest technique you learn. That will cement the knowledge in your brain.

If you enjoyed the teacher and think they have more to offer, look them up online. Depending on the teacher, you may find a robust social media presence and a blog or website. The teacher might be teaching additional classes in your area or online. They may have YouTube, Creativebug, or Bluprint (formerly Craftsy) videos. They may have a newsletter you’ll want to subscribe to. 

The more you love on your teacher, the more likely they are to be able to continue to create the kind of learning content you enjoy.

You paid for a class, you attended the class, and you got a lovely handout that will help you remember what you learned. That handout is protected both by copyright and by ethics. The teacher spent hours preparing the class and writing and designing the handout. It is their work. Photocopying and sharing the handout (or using it to teach a class yourself) is not only illegal, but wrong. Please don’t do it.

If you want to share what you learned, give credit to the teacher.

If an evaluation form was provided, please fill it out to the best of your ability. Both the teacher and the class sponsor benefit from constructive criticism. The better the feedback, the better the teacher becomes over time.

Here are some phrases to get you started:

I appreciated it when the teacher …
It would be helpful if …
Would you consider …
I’d like to see …
The meeting space was …

If you learned something new, share your success with others. Grab a friend and explain what you learned in your own words. When we teach, we have to process information differently than when we learned, and this helps cement the information in our brains.

Announce your new-found knowledge on your social media channels. Share where you learned and who taught you. However, do continue to respect the intellectual property of the teacher(s) and other resources you learn from. If you have any questions about what you can and can’t (or shouldn’t) teach or share from a particular class, contact the teacher for clarification.

20 Tips to Make the Most of Your Next Knitting or Crochet Class

Keep these tips handy! Download a free pdf poster of all 20 Tips.

What’s Next

Now that you’re ready to maximize your learning efforts, what’s your next step? What kind of class do you want to take? Do you have any classes scheduled?

Talk to me in the comments.

About Edie

Edie headshot

I’ve been teaching knitting and crochet in person for over 25 years, at all levels and in all sorts of venues. I’ve taught one-on-one, in small groups, and in large classes with 30 students or more. During this time, I’ve observed thousands of students, and I’ve talked with my fiber teacher colleagues about what they have observed. I also take every possibly opportunity to be a student. This article has grown out of my own experience and those of my colleagues.

20 Tips to Make the Most of Your Next Knitting or Crochet Class, Part 1

In this two-part series, you’ll find 20 tips to set yourself up for success in any knitting or crochet class you take. Wouldn’t it be awesome to make the most out of class? To squeeze every bit of knowledge you can from it? To nail that new skill? To be full of new knowledge and excitement for where your skills will take you?

These tips are aimed at in-person fiber arts classes, but they can apply to online learning as well. Learn what to do before class, when you get to class, during class, and after class to make the most of your experience. Find out how to learn in the most relaxed and enjoyable way possible.

Before Class

Tip #1 Read the class description carefully.

Every class should have a description that specifies what is being taught. The teacher puts a lot of effort into making sure the class description tells you what you need to know.

If the class description says, “set-in sleeve shaping will not be covered”, don’t come to class expecting the teacher to slip in a lesson about set-in sleeve shaping.

Contact the event organizer or email the teacher if you have questions about what is going to be taught or if the class is right for you at this time.

Tip #2 Make sure you meet the prerequisites.

This would be Tips #2-6 if I were giving you ten tips instead of five. Skill prerequisites are there for a reason. Master the skills you need before coming to class because the class is going to proceed from that point.

If you are told you “must know how to knit on double-pointed needles”, that doesn’t mean you own a set of double-pointed needles. It doesn’t mean that you knit with them once upon a time five years ago. It means that you are comfortable casting on and knitting and purling in the round on double-pointed needles.

“Must be familiar with single crochet and double crochet” means you should know how to do these stitches without thought. Practice before class to make sure you know what you are doing. Don’t rely on looking up techniques on YouTube during class!

Tip #3 Do the homework before class.

Teachers assign homework for two main reasons.

The first reason is that you will be using the homework in class. If your homework isn’t complete, you’ll be scrambling to finish it while the rest of the class moves on. You’ll miss half of what the teacher says, and you’ll be feeling left behind. That’s never a good feeling.

The second reason is to make sure you are up-to-speed on the techniques used in class. Those prerequisites? The homework gives you the chance to brush up on them. If it’s been a while since you knitted on double-pointed needles or did anything beyond single crochet, now’s your chance. Use all your resources—books, videos, friends, yarn shop employees—to refresh your memory before having to use those skills in class.

If you struggle with the homework, reconsider taking the class. Instead, study more until you have mastered the technique. Or take an easier class.

Tip #4 Use the right yarn.

The right yarn makes learning so much easier, both in preparing your homework and while in class. Your best bet is a smooth, light-colored worsted weight yarn (CYC #4-medium) in a color or colors you like.

Navy blue, dark grey or black may be your favorite colors, and you may be able to see the stitches perfectly at home. However, you don’t know what the classroom lighting conditions will be. Your teacher may not be able to see those dark colors well enough to help you. Stay away from variegated yarn for the same reason.

If the class materials list specifies a particular yarn weight or a specific yarn, take care to follow those instructions. If the yarn is supposed to be 100% wool, use 100% wool. The teacher had a reason for assigning it.

Some of you have dark, splitty, scratchy, fuzzy yarn in a color you hate. You’d never use it in a project, but you’ve been saving it for a special occasion. This class is not that occasion. You’ll still hate the yarn. You’ll be unhappy with yourself, your yarn, and everyone around you as you struggle to learn a new skill. You have my permission to throw away that yarn.

Tip #5 Collect the proper supplies.

Bring the supplies specified in the class materials: yarn, needles/hooks in a certain size, and other materials specific to that class.

Assume you’ll need scissors, a pencil, paper for taking notes, a tape measure, yarn needle, stitch markers, a calculator, and so on. These basic tool kit items should travel with you at all times.

Bring a variety of needles and hook sizes. Students sometimes use a crochet hook or knitting needle that is not the ideal size for the yarn. Having a selection of sizes to choose from allows you to change to a more appropriate size.

If you need reading glasses, magnifying glasses, extra lighting or other aids, bring them with you.

When You Get To Class

You’ve done all the things you could think of to prepare for a successful class experience. Now the big day is here, and it’s time for class.

Tip #6 Come early.

Leave yourself enough time for traffic and parking. If you are at a large venue, allow time to register and to find your classroom; sometimes it can be a 10-minute walk.

Get to class early enough to find a seat, get unpacked and settled in. You’ll probably want to get a drink of water and use the restroom so you’ll be comfortable and ready to learn.

If you have special needs such as extra lighting or special seating, coming early allows you time to get the space you need and the time to set up appropriately. Be sure to let the teacher know before class starts if you have vision or hearing disabilities. Offer suggestions of how they can adapt their teaching style to help you.

It’s better to be a bit early than to get stuck in traffic and blow into class after it has started. Coming late to class means you miss important information. It can be difficult to catch up with the rest of the class, and you’ll feel stressed, which makes it harder to pay attention.

Tip #7 Don't come too early.

Or if you do come very early, don’t chat with the teacher. Before class, the teacher is unpacking class materials, making sure they have everything they need, passing out handouts, and getting any audiovisual equipment set up. After all that, they need a quiet space to think about details they may have missed, and to take a breath before starting class.

A quick “hello” or “good morning” is fine, and if the teacher starts a conversation, they may be ready and willing to talk. Don’t be hurt if the teacher doesn’t appear super-friendly in that 30-minute period before class.

Tip #8 Wear layers

Classrooms can be hot or cold, especially in hotel conference rooms, so dress in layers. You’ll be sitting still so you’ll feel the cold more than if you were moving around. Plus, you can show off your beautiful hand-made creations to others who will appreciate them!

Tip #9 Turn off your phone

Do I need to explain this one? Get your last-minute social media fix and texting done, then put the phone in your bag and ignore it. You are here to play with yarn. Everything else can wait.

If you have to be available because of work or family situations, turn the phone to vibrate. Put it in your pocket. If it rings, you’ll feel it and can run out to answer. Leaving it on the table is too much of a temptation to get distracted.

Tip #10 Wait for the teacher

Even if you have the handout in front of you, don’t start working before the teacher gives the go-ahead. The handout probably doesn’t tell you everything you need to know, and the teacher will have additional instructions for you.

During and After Class

In Part 2 of the series, you’ll learn the all-important things to do during class and after class to help you make the most of your class experience.

About Edie

Edie headshot

I’ve been teaching knitting and crochet in person for over 25 years, at all levels and in all sorts of venues. I’ve taught one-on-one, in small groups, and in large classes with 30 students or more. During this time, I’ve observed thousands of students, and I’ve talked with my fiber teacher colleagues about what they have observed. I also take every possibly opportunity to be a student. This article has grown out of my own experience and those of my colleagues.

Let me know your thoughts. Have I missed your favorite tip? What do you do to get ready for a fiber arts class?

Flame Stitch Crochet Stitch Pattern

Show your colors with the Flame Stitch crochet stitch pattern! There are several variations of this stitch, but they are all great ways to use different yarn colors. Try it in vibrant hues, or more subtle gradient shades.

This pattern uses American crochet terminology. You’ll be using single crochet, double crochet, and long double crochet (also know as spike double crochet). Watch the video below for more details.

This post contains affiliate links, which won’t cost you anything extra but may provide a small income to me.

You’ll need at least thee colors of yarn, in any weight, and a hook in an appropriate size for the yarn.  The yarn I’m using is Red Heart Chic Sheep by Marly Bird. I’m using a 5.5 mm Clover Amour crochet hook.

Flame Stitch

Flame Stitch stitch chart

Worked in three colors: A, B and C.

With A, chain a multiple of 4 + 2.

Set-Up Row 1 (WS): Working in back bumps of chains, sc in 2nd ch from hook, *ch 3, skip 3 ch, sc in next ch; rep from * across, changing to B on last st, turn.

Set-Up Row 2: Ch 3 (counts as dc throughout), *dc in next ch-space, skip 1 ch of foundation ch, dc in back bump of next foundation ch; dc in same ch-3 space**, ch 1; rep from * to last st, ending last rep at **, dc in last sc, turn.

Row 1 (WS): Ch 1, sc in first dc, ch 1, skip 1 dc, sc in next dc, *ch 3, skip (dc, ch 1, dc), sc in next dc; rep from * to last 2 sts, ch 1, skip 1 dc, sc in last st changing to C, turn.

Row 2: Ch 3, dc in next ch-1 space, *ch 1, skip 1 sc, dc in next ch-3 space, dc in next sc 2 rows below, enclosing the ch-3 and ch-1 spaces, dc in same ch-3 space; rep from * to last 3 sts, ch 1, skip 1 sc, dc in next ch-1 space, dc in last st, turn.

Row 3: Ch 1, sc in first dc, *ch 3, skip (dc, ch 1, dc), sc in next dc; rep from * across, changing to A on last st, turn.

Row 4: Ch 3, *dc in next ch-3 space, dc in next sc 2 rows below, dc in same ch-3 space; rep from * to last st, dc in last st, turn.

Repeat Rows 1-4, continuing in established A, B, C color sequence, for desired length. End with a RS row.

Last row (WS):  Ch 1, [sc in each dc and long dc, and long dc in sc 1 row below each ch-1 space] across. Fasten off. Cut other two colors.

Love this stitch? Want to see it in action? Want to learn more crochet techniques like this? The Skill-Builder Crochet Blanket pattern offers lots of opportunity to grow your crocheting skills. Written text with helpful notes, video tutorials and charts combine to make it easy to learn more than you ever knew.

Buy the Pattern Button

Easy Lacy Rib Knitting Stitch Pattern

Easy Lacy Rib swatch

This Easy Lacy Rib knitting stitch pattern is perfect for warm-weather knitting. With only a 3-stitch and 4-row repeat, you’ll soon get into the rhythm of the pattern without having to think too much.

Can’t you see this as a cotton summer wrap, or perhaps as a tunic to wear over your tank top or swimsuit? Or use a lightweight yarn to create a simple shawl for cooler weather.

The yarn I’m using is Chic Sheep by Marly Bird from Red Heart. I’m using US 8 [5 mm] Clover Takumi bamboo knitting needles. The grey yarn pictured below is Nifty Cotton from Cascade Yarns.

Easy Lacy Rib

Easy Lacy Rib stitch chart
Easy Lacy Rib stitch chart
Easy Lacy Rib stitch key
Easy Lacy Rib swatch in grey

Cast on a multiple of 3 sts + 1.

Row 1 (WS): K1, *p2, k1; rep from *.
Row 2: P1, *yo, ssk, p1; rep from *.
Row 3: Rep Row 1.
Row 4: P1, *k2tog, yo, p1; rep from *.

Repeat Rows 1-4 for pattern.

That’s it! Watch the video for tips on how to read your knitting so that you can go “off pattern” and pick up wherever you left off.

Abbreviations
k: knit
k2tog: knit 2 sts together
p: purl
rep: repeat
ssk (slip, slip, knit): slip the next 2 sts one at a time knitwise, insert left needle into the fronts of these two sts, then knit them together through the back loops
st(s): stitch(es)
WS: wrong side
yo: yarn over

For more knitting stitch patterns, check out the list of stitch pattern dictionaries


3-D Stripes Crochet Stitch Pattern

Why do plain crocheted stripes when you can do 3-D stripes? Add some texture and dimension to your fabric with this fun and easy crochet stitch pattern.

3-D stripes swatch

This pattern uses American crochet terminology. You’ll be using single crochet, double crochet, and treble crochet. You’ll also be using the front loop only/back loop only technique to create the pattern, with what I call a “folding single crochet”. I demonstrate both methods in the video below.

This post contains affiliate links, which won’t cost you anything extra but may provide a small income to me.

You’ll need at least two colors of yarn, in any weight, and a hook in an appropriate size for the yarn.  The yarn I’m using is Red Heart Chic Sheep by Marly Bird. I’m using a 5.5 mm Clover Amour crochet hook.

3-D Stripes

Worked in two colors, a main color (MC) and a contrasting color (CC).

Special Stitches

3-D Stripes stitch diagram

Folding sc: Insert hook into back loops of next treble (BLtr) and into back loop of corresponding stitch on previous row, yarn over and pull up a loop, yarn over and pull through 2 loops. Alternatively, you can insert the hook into both loops of the treble and into the back loop of the corresponding stitch. Just choose one method and be consistent with it.

With MC, chain any multiple.

Set-up Row (RS): Dc in 4th ch from hook and in each ch across, changing to CC on last st, turn. The skipped chs count as a dc.

Row 1 (WS): With CC, ch 4 (counts as tr), BLtr in each st across, turn.

Row 2: Ch 1, folding sc in each st across, changing to MC on last st, turn.

Row 3: With MC, ch 3 (counts as dc) dc in each st across, turn.

Row 4: Ch 3 (counts as dc), dc in each st across, changing to CC on last st, turn.

Rep Rows 1-4 for pattern.

Stitch Key

Abbreviations
BLtr (back loop treble crochet): treble crochet into the back loop only
CC: contrasting color
ch: chain
dc: double crochet
MC: main color
sc: single crochet
st(s): stitch(es)
tr: treble crochet

https://youtu.be/-KrLJdNrR8o

For more crochet stitch patterns, look at my posts about Linked Trebles and Tower Stitch.