Row Repeats

In writing out the pattern for your design, you realize that you can simplify the instructions by adding a statement that a certain sequence of rows can be repeated. You've been making every effort to write in a clear, concise and comprehensive manner. You have now come to a point where introducing an element of ambiguity could be easy to do. Your words may not be interpreted as you intended.

For example:

Row 1 (RS): Sl1, knit across.

Row 2 (WS): Sl1, purl across.

Repeat rows 1 & 2 three times.

Do you intend the knitter to work 6 rows or 8 rows? By adding one word, you can clarify your repeat statement and leave the knitter knowing exactly what you intend.

Repeat rows 1 & 2 three more times.

The knitter will know that 8 rows will be worked.

Repeat rows 1 & 2 three times total.

The knitter will know that 6 rows will be worked.


How to write a row repeat sequence if the stitch count changes. Consider the following sequence of rows:

Row 1 (RS): K1, kfb, k3, kfb, k1. (2 sts inc)

Row 2 (WS): Purl.

Repeat rows 1 & 2 three more times.

As it is written, this would not work. There would be unworked stitches left on the first repeat of row 1 and the increase would be worked in an unintended place.

A more comprehensive way to write this would be:

Row 1 (RS): K1, kfb, k to last 2 sts, kfb, k1. (2 sts inc)

Row 2 (WS): Purl.

Repeat rows 1 & 2 three more times. (total of 8 sts inc)

Syntax for Repeats in a Row

You've realized that you can make your knitting/crocheting instructions more concise and less confusing by inserting instructions for a repeat. But how? Is there accepted nomenclature that is universally recognized by knitters and crocheters? There are a number of acceptable methods to indicate a repeat within a row or round.

Asterisks, parentheses and/or brackets are the character symbols used for this purpose in pattern writing for both knitting and crocheting. Consider the following examples:


Row # (RS): (K3, p2) across.


Row # (RS): *K3, p2; rep from * to end of row.


Row # (RS): *K3, p2 ** rep from * to ** to end of row.

All three statements give the same results.

For crocheting, the same applies.

Row # (RS): Ch3, (dc in next dc, ch1) across to last st, 1dc.


Row # (RS): Ch3, *dc in next dc, ch1; rep from * to last st, 1dc.


Row # (RS): Ch3, *dc in next dc, ch1 ** rep from * to ** to last st, 1dc.

Again, all three statements result in the same sequence of stitches across the row. These are all acceptable methods for indicating a repeat.

What happens when you have a repeat within a repeat? How to express that? Now, you can use a combination of asterisks and parentheses.


Row # (RS): K3, *k2, (kfb, p1) 2 times; rep from * to last 5 sts, k5.


Row # (RS): Ch3, *dc in next st, (dc in next st, ch1, dc in same st) 2 times; rep from * to last 2 sts, 2dc.

There are some things to keep in mind when condensing instructions using repeat formatting.

Are all the stitches accounted for? Using the first knitting example (k3, p2), the stitch count across the row should be a multiple of 5. Had this row been worked over 21 stitches, instructions for how that final stitch should be worked needed to be included:

Row # (RS): *K3, p2; rep from * to last st, k1.

In this case, it would not be correct to ask the knitter to continue to k3, p2 across until they run out of stitches, ending with an incomplete repeat.

Have you included enough detail to make the instructions as easily digestible for the knitter/crocheter as possible? Telling them to repeat something 25 times may be pushing too far. Asking them to repeat a certain sequence of stitches 25 times until there are 5 stitches remaining and then say how those remaining 5 stitches should be worked will make those instructions so much easier to execute. The knitter/crocheter can continue doing the repeats (without counting the number of repeats) until there are 5 stitches left to work.

Ensure that when you are inserting instructions for a repeat into a row, that is clearly understandable for the knitter/crocheter and doesn't introduce ambiguity.

Yarn Substitutions

For my very first post, I thought I would talk about yarn substitutions and the things one needs to consider when changing up the recommended yarn for a particular pattern/design. Both the knitter/crocheter and the designer want the same outcome – a pleased satisfaction with the finished product, an item well wrought.

You've chosen the pattern but now you find that your local yarn store (LYS) doesn't carry the specified brand of yarn. If you are like me, you want to get started right away and don't want to wait for the yarn to be shipped to you. Or maybe you are working on a stash reduction program and buying more yarn is not the preferred option. Or possibly your yarn budget doesn't allow for the more expensive yarn specified in the pattern and you want to be more economical in your choice of yarn. Maybe the fibre content of the specified yarn is not appropriate for the recipient and yarn with a different fibre content would be more suitable.

Here are some of the criteria you will need to consider when substituting


fibre content


yardage per ball/skein

yardage needed to complete pattern

yarn properties: texture, tightness of twist, sheen

Some of these are interconnected. The thickness/weight of the yarn in combination with a particular needle/hook size will determine the gauge. The fibre content will influence the yardage of a ball/skein. Two 100 gram balls of worsted weight yarn of differing fibre content will not have an equal length of yarn in each ball. This needs to be a consideration when determining the amount of yarn needed to complete the design/pattern. Are the yarn properties of the substitution yarn similar to the specified yarn?

While wandering about the internet I discovered the most amazing site. Possibly you've found it already and I'm late to the game but oh my goodness, it is perfect. You need to check out for your next yarn substitution. The information it retrieves is fabulous. I'm super impressed with the amount of research that has gone into the back end of this piece of software. After typing in the yarn name into the search box and clicking on search, the results pop up. First there is a list of the characteristics of the named yarn: weight, texture, fibre, needles, gauge, ball weight and yardage, care instructions and relative price. Below that is a list of suggested substitutions with information about which characteristics match the original specified yarn. What a super helpful site. Designers can use this to add a statement outlining the preferred characteristics of a substitution yarn to ensure that the resulting finished item with the substitution yarn would have the same properties as the original.