Read a knitting pattern by understanding the different symbols, abbreviations and punctuation marks that are commonly used in writing these patterns. Knitting patterns are text based, chart based or a combination of the two.
Most patterns begin with a section that recommends the gauge, needle type, needle size and yarn. This section may also include any special instructions and a list of abbreviations.
Text based patterns use abbreviations and punctuation to save space. The Craft Yarn Council provides a comprehensive list of knitting abbreviations on its website. Many knitting patterns also include a list of abbreviations used in the project. There are common abbreviations such as "K" or "k" for a knit stitch and "P" or "p" for a purl stitch. Pattern instructions should include any uncommon abbreviations.
Asterisks, parentheses and brackets also help simplify knitting patterns. A group of stitches surrounded by brackets indicates the stitches are to be repeated a specified number of times. Longer strings of repeated stitches are indicated by including an asterisk at the beginning and end of the repeated stitches. Parentheses are used when multiple stitches are worked into only one stitch.
Chart based patterns illustrate how stitches appear on the right side of the fabric. Many charts use "Symbolcraft," which Vogue Knitting defines as "a universal form of knitting instructions."