Marks And Repeats In Crochet Patterns

Are you struggling understanding crochet patterns? If so, I hope this article will answer some of your questions & clear out the meanings behind common marks and punctuations used for abbreviating repeats in the patterns.

At the beginning of each IraRott® pattern, you will find a list of abbreviations used in the pattern. Special stitches & techniques are also explained right after abbreviations. You may have noticed that beside stitch abbreviations, there are some special marks, such as (Parentheses), [Brackets], {Braces}, *Asterisks, & Equal = Sign. These marks are very important as they are used for indicating sequence repeats, groups of stitches, and total stitch count. Let’s check them all out.


In IraRott® patterns we use (Parentheses) in explanations or to indicate a group of stitches.


Row 3: Ch 1 (does not count as a st now & throughout)

The explanations written within parentheses clarify that the beginning “Ch 1” is not included in the total stitch count of Row 3 & every following row that begins with “Ch 1”.


(Dc, ch 5, dc) in stitch between large shells

In this example, the group of stitches written within parentheses needs to be worked in the same stitch (as shown in the photo below), which is basically a short version of:

Dc in stitch between large shells, ch 5, dc in same stitch between large shells

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


In IraRott® patterns we use [Brackets] for indicating simple pattern repeats.

EXAMPLE: [sc in next st, 2 sc in next st] 2 times

This means – you need to repeat 2 times the combination of stitches written within brackets as follows:

Step 1 –> Sc in next st, 2 sc in next st

Step 2 –> Repeat Step 1


When it comes to complex repeats in crochet patterns, you will find additional marks, such as {Braces} or *Asterisks, that are used along with the [Brackets].

A complex repeat is a pattern sequence that includes one or more simple repeats within each complex repeat. You already know how to  follow simple repeats, so let’s review this complex repeat, written in 2 different styles.


{Bpsc around second dc of next shell, ch 5; [skip 2 dc, bpsc around next dc, ch 5] 2 times} 5 times

In this example the complex repeat is indicated by {Braces}, which means you need to repeat 5 times the combination of stitches written within braces as follows:

Step 1 –> Bpsc around second dc of next shell, ch 5; [skip 2 dc, bpsc around next dc, ch 5] 2 times

Step 2 –> {} 5 times means: Repeat Step 1 four more times


*Bpsc around second dc of next shell, ch 5; [skip 2 dc, bpsc around next dc, ch 5] 2 times**; repeat 4 more times from* to**

This can also be written as:

*Bpsc around second dc of next shell, ch 5; [skip 2 dc, bpsc around next dc, ch 5] 2 times; repeat 4 more times from*

In this example I wrote the exact same pattern as in EXAMPLE 1, but using *Asterisks instead of {Braces} for indicating the complex repeat. The repeats will read identically to the first example:

Step 1 –> Bpsc around second dc of next shell, ch 5; [skip 2 dc, bpsc around next dc, ch 5] 2 times

Step 2 –> repeat 4 more times from* means: Repeat Step 1 four more times

Complex pattern repeat how to understand crochet patterns

If you still have difficulty visualizing complex repeats, here are a few TIPS:

  1. PRINT: If you print patterns, you can use markers for highlighting repeats.
  2. MOBILE: If the pattern is in your Ravelry library, you can download this awesome App from LoveKnitting & link your ravelry patterns with the app. You will find many helpful tools there, including highlighter, stitch counter, line ruler, and sticky notes. Use highlighter tool to mark complex repeats and make your own notes as you go.
  3. WRITE: You can also break down the pattern in smaller steps by writing each step on a piece of paper.
  4. CROCHET: Use stitch markers as you go to mark each complex repeat.


Finally, in IraRott® patterns we use Equal = Sign for indicating the total stitch count at end of the rows/rnds.


Row 2: Sc in each st across = 25 sts

This means – After finishing Row 2, your total stitch count will be 25.

Final Notes:

If you are just learning to read crochet patterns or trying to improve your crochet, here is a wonderful Craftsy / Blueprint class by Edie Eckman you might want to consider – Improve Your Crochet Essential Techniques.  Edie explains the common punctuation found in written crochet patterns, demonstrates how to read diagrams & walks you through several examples.

I hope you found some answers here, but if you have additional questions about IraRott® patterns, please feel free to post your questions below or send me –> an EMAIL.


    • 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

  2. Terri says:

    This is was not helpful at all. I am working on the Josephine elephant and I am on the ears. I believe that a video of the first couple of rounds would be most helpful because the written directions and pictures are just not doing it and I am struggling to get this done.

    • IraRott says:

      Hi Terri, sorry to hear that. The elephant pillow is an intermediate level pattern and it requires some concentration for making the ears, but if you follow the repeats correctly, you should not have any issues. Please feel free to send me your questions to with a reference to the round you are working on and I will break it down for you.

    • IraRott says:

      Hi Kathryn, crest is included in special stitches section at the beginning of the pattern, where you can find instructions for all unique stitches used in the pattern. Crest = Dc in first st of the shell below; [dc in next st, picot] 7 times; dc in last st = 9 dc & 7 picots

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