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!

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.

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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.


Linked Treble Crochet Stitch Pattern

Linked treble crochet swatch

Crocheters, expand your stitch pattern knowledge with linked treble crochet! While regular treble crochet stitches are quite tall, with space between the posts, linked treble stitches are connected post-to-post, creating a solid fabric.

Linked stitches are sort of a cross between regular treble crochet and Tunisian crochet, worked with a regular crochet hook. Note that I’m using American crochet terminology here. UK crocheters will know this as linked double treble crochet.

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

Grab some yarn and an appropriately-sized hook, and practice along with me. I’m using Marly Bird’s Chic Sheep yarn from Red Heart, with a Clover Amour crochet hook, size 5.5 mm.

Be sure to watch the video, where I demonstrate two different ways to work into the chain on the first stitch of the row. Choose your favorite.

Linked Treble Crochet

Beginning Linked Treble in progress
Beginning Linked Treble

Special Stitches
Beginning Linked Treble (Beg Ltr):
Ch 4 (does not count as a st), insert hook into 2nd ch from hook, yarn over and pull up a loop, insert hook into next ch, yarn over and pull up a loop, insert hook into st at base of ch-4, yarn over and pull up a loop (4 loops are on hook) [(yarn over, pull through 2 loops] 3 times.

Arrows showing path of hook
Arrows show the three places to put your hook in linked treble crochet

Linked Treble: Insert hook into upper horizontal bar of previous st, yarn over and pull up a loop, insert hook into lower horizontal bar of previous st, yarn over and pull up a loop, insert hook into next st, yarn over and pull up a loop (4 loops are on hook) [(yarn over, pull through 2 loops] 3 times.

Instructions

Chain any multiple.

Set-Up Row: Ch 1, sc in 2nd ch from hook and in each ch across, turn.

Row 1: Beginning Ltr, Ltr in each st across, turn.

Rep Row 1 for pattern.

Linked Trebles Stitch Chart

Abbreviations
Beg Ltr:
beginning linked treble crochet (see Special Stitches)
ch: chain
Ltr: linked treble crochet (see Special Stitches)
sc: single crochet

5 Tips for Beautiful Crochet Borders

A crochet border provides a polished touch to your crocheted or knit project. No matter what type of crochet border design you choose, follow these 5 tips to set a solid foundation for beautiful crochet borders.

Tip #1: Start with a Base Row/Round

Tip #1 showing base row worked with main color and with constrasting color
The base row worked in the main color blends in, while the base row worked in a contrasting color highlights uneven stitches.

Start with a base row or round of single crochet in the same color as your main fabric. Using the same color makes the base row blend into the fabric and hides any uneven stitches. You can use a contrasting color on the next row, and the stitches will look nice and even.

Tip #2 Work Stitches Evenly Spaced

Tip #2 showing arrows evenly spaced

The base row stitches should be evenly spaced along each edge. This may be one stitch in every stitch across, or some other ratio, like 2 stitches out of every 3. Along a selvedge (side edge) the ratio may be one single crochet in each single crochet row-end, 2 single crochets in each double-crochet row-end, or some other ratio. You’ll have to play with those ratios to get them just right for your situation.

Tip #3 Put Your Hook Into Selvedge Stitches

Tip #3 showing stitches worked into selvedge correctly and incorrectly
Working the base row stitches around the post or chain creates a hole.

It’s tempting to put your hook into the nice chain space or post stitch along the vertical edges. Resist the temptation! Instead, put the hook into the “meat” of the stitch: the actual chain stitch or post of the stitch.

Tip #4 Increase at Corners

3 single crochets in each corner allows the edge to lie flat.

If you are working all the way around around a square or rectangle, you’ll need to increase at the corners to ensure the edging stays flat. Put 3 single crochet stitches into each corner stitch. On later rounds, you’ll need to increase in pattern to allow the border to lie flat.

Tip #5 Assess Your Work

Tip #5 showing too many stitches on a base row
On this swatch, there are slightly too many stitches for the base row, causing the edge to flare out slightly. This subtle excess will cause the edging to ripple and flare more as you work additional rows.

Stop from time to time and look critically at what you’ve done so far. Is it lying flat? Does it curve in or out, even a little bit? Does it ripple or draw in?


Tip #5 showing edges drawing inward.
Although it may not be noticeable at first, this row is drawing the fabric inward. See how the side edges curve in toward the top? They didn’t do that before the purple row was added.

If it’s not entirely flat, rip it out and adjust your stitches until it does lie absolutely flat. Taking the time to set up your first row or round perfectly will the the main ingredient in the success of your crocheted border.


More Tips for Beautiful Crochet Borders

Crocheted edgings are one of my favorite topics! I’ve developed lots of ideas on how to enhance your projects with edgings both plan and fancy.

Together, Around the Corner Crochet Borders and Every Which Way Crochet Borders offer more than 289 border patterns designed to flow around 90-degree corners. You can work them back-and-forth, as well. You are sure to find a border that is just right for your next project.

http://shrsl.com/qmrz

If you prefer video instruction, watch Fantastic Finishes: Edgings & Borders on Bluprint.

For more crochet tips, go to Crochet: Basics & Beyond.





Free Pattern: Thread Crochet Heart Necklace

Show your love with this thread crochet heart necklace. It takes just a few yards of crochet thread and can be stitched up in less than an hour.

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Red Thread Crochet Heart Necklace crochet pattern by Edie Eckman
This necklace used Aunt Lydia Classic 10, color Victory Red.

The heart necklace pictured measures about 16″ [40.5 cm] long. Each heart measures about 1″ [2.5 cm] wide x 1″ [2.5 cm] high. However, you can easily adjust the size by adding or subtracting hearts or chains at the beginning and end of the heart sequence. The pattern uses American crochet terminology. Check out Crochet: Basics & Beyond if you need help.

Materials

Cotton Crochet Thread size 10. Samples used:
(A) Red Heart Classic 10, color Victory Red
(B) Aunt Lydia Classic 10, color 332 Hot Pink
(C) Nazli Gelin Garden 10

Size B-1 [2.25 mm] crochet hook

One small button for necklace closure

Pink Thread Crochet Heart Necklace crochet pattern by Edie Eckman
This necklace used Aunt Lydia Classic 10, color Hot Pink.

Abbreviations and Special Stitches

ch: chain
dc: double crochet
2-dc cluster: (Yarn over, insert hook into back bump of ch, yarn over, pull up a loop, yarn over, pull through 2 loops) twice in same chain, yarn over, pull through 3 loops.
2-tr cluster: [Yarn over twice, insert hook into back bump of ch, yarn over, pull up a loop, (yarn over, pull through 2 loops) 2 times] twice in same chain, yarn over, pull through 3 loops.
picot:Ch 3, slip st in 3rd ch from hook and in top of stitch at base of chain.
sc: single crochet
slip st: slip stitch
tr: treble crochet

Gauge

About 15 sc = 2″. Gauge is not crucial in this pattern.

Pink and White Thread Crochet Heart Braid pattern by Edie Eckman
Leave off the chains at the beginning and ends and add beads at the picot points to make a decorative braid. This sample was made with Nazli Gelin Garden.

Necklace Instructions

For a decorate braid, omit the instructions in red.

Thread Crochet Heart Necklace crochet pattern chart by Edie Eckman
thread Crochet Heart Necklace stitch key by Edie Eckman

Row 1: Ch 15, [ch 6, 2-dc cluster in 5th ch from hook] 22 times, ch 20—22 clusters, 57 chains. [Note: There is 1 ch between each ch/2dc cluster.]
Row 2: Turn, sc in 6th ch from hook to form button loop, sc in next 13 ch, *slip st in next ch, ch 2, skip 1 cluster (2-dc cluster, ch 1, 2-tr cluster, picot, tr, ch 1, 2-dc cluster) in next ch, ch 2, slip st in base of next cluster; rep from * 10 more times, slip st in next ch, sc in each ch to end.

Fasten off, leaving a long tail.

Try on necklace. Using tail, sew button on end opposite button loop, adjusting to fit.

What would happen if you used a bigger yarn and the same pattern to make a scarf? If you try it, please let us know!

More Ideas

Get more ideas for thread crochet necklaces and braids by browsing Around the Corner Crochet Borders and Every Which Way Crochet Borders. You’ll find hundreds of crochet borders than can easily turn into necklaces, scarves and more!

Eulerian Triangles Shawl Crochet Pattern

Hundreds of tiny triangle motifs come together to create a lacy play of positive and negative space in the Eulerian Triangles Shawl. And surprisingly, there are only six ends to weave in at the end of the project!

Eulerian Triangles Shawl Crochet Pattern by Edie Eckman view 2

You don’t have to understand the mathematical concept that makes this possible. That work has been done for you. All you have to do is obey the instructions and follow the path that is set out for you.

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Eulerian Paths

Eulerian graph
Eulerian trail Sevenstar [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)]

In case you are wondering:

“In graph theory, an Eulerian trail (or Eulerian path) is a trail in a finite graph which visits every edge exactly once. Similarly, an Eulerian circuit or Eulerian cycle is an Eulerian trail which starts and ends on the same vertex. They were first discussed by Leonhard Euler while solving the famous Seven Bridges of Königsberg problem in 1736. ” -Wikipedia

Eulerian Triangles Shawl Crochet Pattern by Edie Eckman

While this may not be a true Eulerian path/circuit/whatever, the idea is that you can start crocheting in one place, make partial triangles on a predetermined path, then come back and finish the triangles. All of this is accomplished without ever breaking the yarn.


Eulerian Triangles Shawl Crochet Pattern by Edie Eckman view 3

It’s easier to understand when the pattern is in front of you, and the yarn and hook are in your hand!

The Yarn

Stunning String yarn color Spring Iris

The pattern calls for fingering weight yarn in three colors. You’ll need about 435 yds [398 m] each of colors A and B and approximately 230 yds [210 m] of color C.

For the sample, I used Stunning String Twinkle, which has a nice little bit of metallic sparkle. It took one skein each Spring Iris (A, pictured here), Plum Frost (B), and Regal Purple (C). Stunning String even has kits available for $75, which include both the pattern and the yarn pictured.

Get the Kit CTA

While you can use any fingering weight yarn, keep in mind that the shawl will need to be blocked fairly aggressively to show off the openwork. The fiber content of the yarn will play a role in your blocking.

Also, because of the path the yarn takes, a color-change yarn may be not be the best choice. One pattern tester found that her initial short color-change yarn obliterated the pattern. Another found that her long color-change yarn worked fine up to a point, but toward the end it created a problem. Therefore, I suggest you use a solid color yarn for each of the three colors. (I’m making a second shawl in Stunning String Stunning Superwash.)

The Pattern

First page of Eulerian Triangles Shawl Crochet Pattern by Edie Eckman

The crochet pattern instructions are written out and charted. A special feature is the color-coding, which maps the portion of the chart you are working on to the color of the text you are following. The pattern testers really loved this feature.

For visual learners, there’s a video tutorial to help you understand the special techniques. While the only stitches used are slip stitch, chain, and double crochet, this is not a pattern suitable for beginners. Intermediate and experienced crocheters, however, will revel in the challenge.

If you like the images you see here, thank photographer Kellie Nuss. She did an amazing job of showing the lacy negative space between the triangles!

Eulerian Triangles Shawl Crochet Pattern by Edie Eckman view 1

This is the most fun I’ve had designing something in a long time. I do hope you’ll try it yourself.

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If you are interested in learning more about continuous motifs, read my book Connect the Shapes Crochet Motifs .