Written instructions give you row-by-row directions for a single repeat. They follow certain conventions and use lots of abbreviations (see the preceding section). The key to understanding written instructions is paying attention to commas, asterisks, and brackets or parentheses; they mean more than you may think. Here's a punctuation translation:
i Single steps are separated by commas. The instruction "Sl 1 wyif, k5" tells you to slip a stitch with the yarn on the front side of the work, and then to knit 5 stitches as normal (meaning you have to move the yarn to the back before knitting, even though the instructions don't tell you to).
i An asterisk (*) indicates that whatever follows gets repeated (rep). For example, the instruction "K1, * sl 1, k3; rep from * to last st, k1" means that you knit 1 stitch, then you work the stitches between the asterisks (slip 1 stitch and knit 3 stitches) over and over until you reach the last stitch of the row, which you knit.
i Brackets (or parentheses) function much like the asterisks except that you're repeating a series of stitches a specified number of times. For example, the instruction "* K5, (p1, k1) twice, p1; repeat from * to end of row" means that, after you knit 5, you purl 1/knit 1 two times, followed by another purl 1, and then you repeat this entire sequence across the entire row.
The following example shows a stitch pattern in written form:
Row 1 (RS): * K2, p2; rep from * to end of row. Row 2 (WS): * P2, k2; rep from * to end of row.
Translation: On the first row (the right side is facing you on the first row in this pattern), you knit 2 stitches, purl 2 stitches, knit 2 stitches, purl 2 stitches, and so on to the end of the row. (Your row would have to be a multiple of 4 stitches for these instructions to come out evenly.) On the next row (wrong side facing now), you begin by purling 2 stitches, then knitting 2 stitches, purling 2 stitches, knitting 2 stitches, and so on to the end of the row.
As you read patterns, pay attention to row designations. To save space, many written instructions combine rows that repeat the same stitches. For example, this ribbon eyelet pattern combines a couple of rows:
Cast on multiple of 2 sts, plus 2 sts. Row 1: Knit. Row 2: Purl. Rows 3 and 4: Knit.
Row 5: P1, * yo, p2tog; repeat from * to last st, p1. Row 6: K2, * k1 tbl, k1; repeat from * to end of row. Row 7: Knit. Row 8: Purl. Rep Rows 1-8.
As you can imagine, the more intricate the pattern, the more complicated the instructions. But if you read your instructions carefully, work each step between commas as a complete step, look at your work, and think about what you're doing, you won't have any problems.
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