How to Understand Crochet Patterns – PART 1

Today I would like to talk about (Parentheses), [Brackets], {Braces}, *Asterisk, the Equal = Sign & how these marks are being used in crochet patterns.

First of all, a crochet pattern is a written manual that usually includes row-by-row instructions and/or crochet diagrams.  Crochet items may contain hundreds, thousands, or hundred thousands of stitches & if they were written stitch by stitch without abbreviations, then the whole world would not have room for crochet books…That’s why designers and publishing companies use abbreviations, terms, & marks to create patterns. Pattern writers may have slightly different styles, but they all have the same idea on using abbreviations. Abbreviations are normally listed at the beginning of each pattern to help readers understand instructions.

So here are some common marks used in crochet patterns & extra explanations with examples from IraRott® patterns…

common crochet abbreviations by IraRott how to understand crochet patterns

( PARENTHESES )

In IraRott® patterns we use (Parentheses) in explanations or to indicate a group of stitches. Some other publishers also use (Parentheses) for indicating the total stitch count at the end of the row/rnd or for pattern repeats. (Parentheses) are one of the most common marks in crochet patterns.

  •  Example of using (Parentheses) in explanations: Rnd 3: ch 1 (do not count as a st here & throughout)

As you can see, additional information about ch-1 is written within parentheses. This means that ch-1 at the beginning of Rnd 3 should not be counted as a stitch in the total stitch count & this also applies to the following rounds that begin with ch-1.

  • Example of using (Parentheses) for indicating a group of stitches: (dc, ch 5, dc) in stitch between the large shells.

This means – you need to work a combination of stitches written within parentheses in the same stitch (or space) of row below…or ==> STEP 1: dc in stitch between the large shells; STEP 2: ch 5; STEP 3: dc in same stitch between the large shells (as shown in the photo below).

How to understand crochet patterns - group of stitches in IraRott patterns

  • Example of using (Parentheses) for indicating the total stitch count: Row 2: sc in each st across (25).

This means – you need to work 1 single crochet in every stitch of row below & your total stitch count at the end of Row 2 should be 25 stitches.

  • Example of using (Parentheses) in pattern repeats: (sc in next st, 2 sc in next st) repeat 2 times.

This means – you need to repeat the combination of stitches written within parentheses 2 times…or ==> STEP 1: (sc in next st, 2 sc in next st)STEP 2: repeat step 1.

[BRACKETS

In IraRott® patterns we use [Brackets] for simple pattern repeats. Many other publishers do as well.

  • Example of using [Brackets] in simple pattern repeats: [sc in next st, 2 sc in next st] 2 times.

This means – you need to repeat the combination of stitches written within brackets 2 times…or ==> STEP 1: [sc in next st, 2 sc in next st];  STEP 2: repeat step 1.

{BRACES} 

In advanced & intermediate patterns the repeats are usually more complex, which make it difficult to write them using just one type of mark. That’s why in IraRott® patterns we often use {Braces} & [Brackets] to describe the same row/rnd with complex repeats. When instructions within [Brackets] are inside of instructions within {Braces}, it means you need to repeat instructions within [Brackets] before repeating instructions within {Braces}.

  • Example of using {Braces} & [Brackets] in complex pattern repeats: {bpsc around second dc of next shell, ch 5; [skip 2 dc, bpsc around next dc, ch 5] 2 times} 5 times.

Let’s break it down in 4 simple steps: STEP 1: bpsc around second dc of next shell, ch 5; STEP 2: [skip 2 dc, bpsc around next dc, ch 5] 2 timesSTEP 3: repeat 4 more times steps 1 & 2. Your total repeats within braces will be 5 (STEPS 1-2 + 4 more times STEPS 1-2), as shown in the photo below.

Complex pattern repeat how to understand crochet patterns

*ASTERISK 

*Asterisk is used as a reference mark in crochet patterns. Some designers use an *Asterisk for simple pattern repeats, but we prefer to use it as an additional mark in complex pattern repeats. You can also find a double **Asterisk (or triple ***Asterisk) in some rows of the same pattern.

  • Example of using *Asterisk in simple pattern repeats: *sc in next st, 2 sc in next st; repeat 2 more times from*

This means – you need to repeat the combination of stitches written after the *Asterisk  3 times in total (1 time + 2 more times as described)…or ==> STEP 1:*sc in next st, 2 sc in next st; STEP 2: repeat step 1;  STEP 3: repeat step 1. 

  • Example of using *Asterisk in complex pattern repeats: *[9 dc in next ch-5 arch, sc in next ch-5 arch, ch 5, sc in next ch-5 arch] 2 times; 9 dc in next ch-5 arch, sc in next ch-5 arch; repeat 2 more times from*.

Let’s break it down in 4 simple steps: STEP 1: [9 dc in next ch-5 arch, sc in next ch-5 arch, ch 5, sc in next ch-5 arch] 2 timesSTEP 2: 9 dc in next ch-5 arch, sc in next ch-5 arch; STEP 3: repeat steps 1 & 2; STEP 4: repeat steps 1 & 2.

  • Example of using double **Asterisk in complex pattern repeats: *[shell over shell, ch 2] 2 times, shell over shell; ch 3, skip ch-3 arch; [sc in next ch-3 arch, ch 3] 2 times, skip ch-3 arch; repeat 4 more times from*; shell; ch 3, skip ch-3 arch, [sc in next ch-3 arch, ch 3] 2 times, skip next ch-3 arch; **[shell over shell, ch 2] 2 times, shell over shell; ch 3, skip ch-3 arch; [sc in next ch-3 arch, ch 3] 2 times, skip ch-3 arch; repeat 4 more times from**.

Let’s break it down in 5 simple steps: STEP 1: *[shell over shell, ch 2] 2 times, shell over shell; ch 3, skip ch-3 arch; [sc in next ch-3 arch, ch 3] 2 times, skip ch-3 arch; STEP 2: repeat 4 more times step 1; STEP 3: shell; ch 3, skip ch-3 arch, [sc in next ch-3 arch, ch 3] 2 times, skip next ch-3 arch; STEP 4: **[shell over shell, ch 2] 2 times, shell over shell; ch 3, skip ch-3 arch; [sc in next ch-3 arch, ch 3] 2 times, skip ch-3 arch; STEP 5: repeat 4 more times step 4.

EQUAL = SIGN

Just like some designers are using (Parentheses) for indicating the total stitch count at end of the row/rnd, we prefer to use the Equal = Sign in IraRott® patterns.

  • Example of using Equal = Sign for indicating the total stitch count: Row 2: sc in each st across = 25 sts.

This means – you need to work 1 single crochet in every stitch of row below & your total stitch count at the end of Row 2 should be 25 stitches.

USING ALL MARKS in the SAME ROW/RND 

Some complex repeats may contain all available marks, such as (Parentheses), [Brackets], {Braces}, *Asterisk, & the Equal = Sign! But not to worry…simply break it down in steps just as we did in examples above & remember, that most main steps in the pattern are separated with a semicolon (or with a comma).

  • Example of using All Marks in complex pattern repeats: *{ch 5, bpsc around second dc of next shell; [ch 5, skip next 2 sts, bpsc around next dc] 2 times} 2 times, ch 5; (dc, ch 5, dc) in next ch-5 arch (CORNER); ch 5, bpsc around second dc of next shell; [ch 5, skip next 2 sts, bpsc around next dc] 2 times; repeat 2 more times from*…. = 44 ch-5 arches

Let’s break it down in 7 simple steps: STEP 1: ch 5, bpsc around second dc of next shell;  STEP 2: [ch 5, skip next 2 sts, bpsc around next dc] 2 timesSTEP 3: repeat steps 1 & 2; STEP 4: ch 5; (dc, ch 5, dc) in next ch-5 arch (CORNER) <– TIP: it’s good to place a marker in the corner!STEP 5: ch 5, bpsc around second dc of next shell; STEP 6: [ch 5, skip next 2 sts, bpsc around next dc] 2 timesSTEP 7: repeat 2 more times steps 1 through 6. After finishing this rnd you should have 44 ch-5 arches in total.

DIFFERENT STYLES OF USING MARKS

You may also find patterns that have complex repeats written using double [[Brackets]] or a combination of [Brackets](Parentheses) and/or *Asterisk. Lets take a look at this example of the same pattern & how it can be written using different marks. The first & second examples in the list below are often used in IraRott® patterns.

  1. {sc in first picot of next shell, ch 5; [skip 2 picots, sc in next picot, ch 5] 2 times} 5 times
  2. *sc in first picot of next shell, ch 5; [skip 2 picots, sc in next picot, ch 5] 2 times; repeat 4 more times from*  
  3. [sc in first picot of next shell, ch 5; (skip 2 picots, sc in next picot, ch 5) x 2] x 5 
  4. [sc in first picot of next shell, ch 5; [skip 2 picots, sc in next picot, ch 5] 2 times] 5 times
  5. (sc in first picot of next shell, ch 5; (skip 2 picots, sc in next picot, ch 5) 2 times) 5 times
  6. [sc in first picot of next shell, ch 5; (skip 2 picots, sc in next picot, ch 5) repeat 2 times] repeat 5 times

TIPS

If you have difficulty visualizing some complex repeats in the intermediate patterns, you can simply highlight all the main steps in the pattern, that are usually separated with a semicolon (or a comma). Print the pattern & use a different color marker for each step. You can also write each step down on a piece of paper. I hope you find this article helpful, but please feel free to ask questions in the comments below and I will be more than happy to help.

4 comments

    • IraRott says:

      Hi Kris, if this article was not helpful, please send me an email and I will break down the rounds for you. We have a tutorial for the picot stitch used in the pattern, but we do not have plans on releasing a complete video for the ears as this pattern is currently sold in PDF format only.

  1. Celeste Williams says:

    I don’t have pages 17-22 on my pattern I assume those are pictures. It might help to have those. I’ll do the best I can this is very detailed. Thank you for trying I’ll take your advice I have no trouble with picot or the stitches (I think) but my count us wrong I end up with too many if shells and not enough chains. I’ll try again

    • IraRott says:

      Hi Celeste, no problem, I will be able to resend the latest pattern update with additional photos, just need to know what email you have used for purchasing. Please send us an email with a little more information to ira@irarott.com

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