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Understanding Common Pattern Terms
By: Barbara Breiter

A pattern is a blueprint for a project. A well-written pattern doesn’t intentionally confuse you. If you find something confusing, keep in mind that sometimes the pattern is simply trying to convey information to help you. The term might be an industry standard, but one that you’ve never come across before.

Here are some terms and concepts, commonly used but also commonly confusing to many knitters and crocheters.

Work even
Work even means to work in the pattern stitch over the number of stitches you have at the present time. It often follows a sequence where you have just completed increasing or decreasing.

Although crocheting often uses this term at the end of every row (for example, chain 1, turn), it’s also used in places that, at first glance, don’t appear to make sense. When working short rows, or partial rows of knitting or crocheting, you will see an instruction to turn while not at the end of the row. Simply complete the instructions for that row, and when the pattern states turn, prepare to work in the other direction and the next row by turning your work around just as if you were at the end of the row. It may seem wrong to do so, but sometimes you have to have faith that a pattern works out in the end!

At the same time
At the same time means you are doing two things at once. It could be shaping both the neck and the armhole of a front, changing to a different color at a specific point while decreasing, or any number of other possibilities. When you see the term, look for two separate sets of instructions, as this is what you are being asked to do “at the same time”.

Dash and numbers at the end of a row
Particularly when increasing or decreasing, you may see a dash and then some numbers following row instructions.

For example:
Next Row: *K2tog, (p1, k1) to 2 sts before marker, p2tog – 54 (60, 66) sts.

Row 4: Ch 3, turn, 2 dc in next dc, (ch 2, sk 2 dc, 3 dc in next dc) across – 6 ch-2 sp.

After the dash, the pattern is giving you information, not an instruction. It’s telling you the number of stitches (and in the crochet example, the type of stitch as well) that you will have after completing the row.

Deciphering patterns can be a bit of a challenge at times but designers and editors do their best to make them as clear as possible by using these standard terms.

Authored by Barbara Breiter

Barbara Breiter is the author of THE COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO KNITTING & CROCHETING. Find her online at
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