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Knitting Tutorial: Understanding Pattern Repeats

Recently, I've received some emails asking for clarification on pattern repeats, and naturally, I thought, "Aha! Perfect tutorial topic!" When not read carefully, pattern repeats can cause your knitting to go off kilter, and no one wants that!

Repeats in Written Instructions
Pattern repeats within the written instructions can happen in a variety of ways: using asterisks *, parentheses ( ) and/or brackets [ ]. Creative Knitting patterns typically use asterisks for large repeat sections and brackets for a repeats that are worked a specific number of times.
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Asterisk repeat: Here, you will work any indicated stitches UP TO that asterisk (circled); then you will work the stitches UP TO the semicolon (circled too) and then pause. Instead of working forward, notice the phrase "rep from *"; at this point, you are going to go back to the beginning of the stitches after the asterisk (they are purple) and work those stitches again. You will keep repeating those purple-marked stitches as many times as necessary until, after you have worked that last purple-marked stitch, you have the specified number of stitches at the end of the row (in this case, four).

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Bracket or parenthesis repeat: This scenario is worked pretty much the same way as the asterisk repeat. Work in pattern UP TO the first bracket, and then work the stitches (in purple) UP TO the opposite bracket. The circled section is where you will find how many times to repeat the stitches within the brackets. So, in this example, you will then go back and repeat that bracketed section once more. After you have worked the specified number of repeats of ONLY the bracketed section, then you'll move forward to work the remaining stitches as indicated for the remainder of the row.

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Nested repeats: These just take everything you learned above and double it. Ha ha! In our example above, you'll work the section in parentheses twice, and then continue in the remaining bracket stitches to the bracket. Then, you go back to the first stitch in the bracket, work as directed, repeating the parentheses twice again, and then work to the end of the bracket. Repeat that series of stitches as many times as indicated.

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Repeats in Charts
Once you master charts, you'll find the entire repeat process seriously painless because it is so visual. Repeats in charts are indicated by a red border (usually). You'll work up to the red border, then repeat the section within the red border as many times as needed until you have the X number of stitches left at the end of the row (or round). In our example, you'll slip 1, repeat the lace pattern within the red border until you have only three stitches left, and then you'll work those last three stitches as indicated.

So, repeats aren't as intense as you thought they'd be, right? Let me know what you think!

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