One of the Most Important Knitting Abbreviations – The Repeat


  • Repeat (rep)
  • rep from * – repeat all that comes after the * in the same order
  • ( ) Parentheses – Enclose instructions which should be worked in the same order the exact number of times specified immediately following the parentheses. Example (k1, p1) twice means knit one stitch, purl one stitch and repeat the same sequence one more time.
  • [ ] Brackets – Brackets are also used like parentheses. The instructions within the brackets are repeated as many times as indicated. Example [k2, p3]3 times means repeat the sequence “k2, p3” 3 times in that order.

All knitting pattern stitches involve “repeats”. A repeat is an abbreviated notation used to save space in instructions. A lot of information is packed into this abbreviation. An asterisk (*) is used to indicate the beginning of the repeat, and other punctuation is used to break up the text so it is easy to understand. The variety of publications will have minor variations to this format.

What “rep from *” means is to repeat all that comes after the * in the same order. There are two types of repeats; repeating instructions within a row and repeating rows. Most pattern stitches combine both of these types of repeats.

Repeating Stitches Within a Row – Examples:

  • Row 1 (Right Side): k1, *p1, k1; rep from *. Repeat (p1, k1) to end of row.
  • Rows 5 and 7: k1, *p2, k2, (p1, k3)3 times, p1, k2, p2, k1; rep from *. There are 2 actions going on within this row. The sequence after the * is repeated across the row. Also the “p1, k3” within brackets is repeated 3 times as you are working the sequence.

Note: Some pattern instructions might read “rep from * across or to end”; meaning work to the end of row.

Repeating Rows – Examples:

  • Rows 1 and 2: *k2, p2; rep from *. Rows 3 and 4: *p2, k2; rep from *. Repeat rows 1 through 4 for pattern.  This means work rows 1, 2, 3, 4 then start from row 1 again, repeating the 4 rows over and over to create the pattern stitch. The instructions will usually tell you to repeat the pattern rows for a certain measurement of length. (Also notice there is a rep from * within each row).
  • Row 1: knit across. Row 2: purl across. Rep rows 1 and 2 six more times. In this example, knit row 1, then purl row 2 one time, then repeat the 2 rows six more times for a total of 7 times or 14 rows (7 x 2=14 rows).

There are other variations to the use of repeating stitches within a row or repeating rows, so read the instructions carefully. One variation is to repeat a decrease or increase row so many times on right side rows to reach the required number of stitches. Remember that there is a logical sequence or order to what you are being asked to do, and keeping a row count will prevent you from making mistakes.

“Rep” is one of the most important abbreviations used in knitting instructions. Otherwise a lot of information would have to be written out using an enormous amount of space, the instructions would be tedious to read, and mistakes would be made. Read your instructions carefully and look out for the sequence that is being repeated. If it helps to write it out in a way that is comfortable for you, do so. Keep track by counting rows!