Today’s crochet tutorial is really a clarification of how to read crochet patterns instead of an actual stitch. Parenthesis are a huge part of my crochet pattern writing, and I stumble across people that get confused (thankfully not too often) when it comes to the parenthesis. It’s probably a good time to clear this part up, because I’m not the only crochet designer to use them in crochet patterns.

{Crash Course Crochet} Parenthesis in Crochet Patterns - Why They Are There and How to Read Them | Knot By Gran'ma Blog

Parenthesis are often used in crochet patterns to shorten the crochet pattern. Crochet patterns use a type of shorthand, using abbreviations, and they all take time to get used to. Instead of seeing a crochet pattern that says: next 2 sts tog., next 2 sts tog., next 2 sts tog., ch 1, tn – 3 sc

Parenthesis makes your pattern look like this:

( next 2 sts tog.), repeat 2 times, ch 1, tn – 3 sc

This may not seem like a big deal, but when you are dealing with a crochet pattern that has 42 rounds to it, the use of parenthesis is going to make a pattern much shorter and easier to read. There’s less of a crochet pattern shorthand mess to decipher.

Sometimes you will see parenthesis in a crochet pattern, where you are to do what’s inside the parenthesis all in one stitch. Your crochet pattern could look like this:

dc next 3 sts, sc in ch 1 space, ch 1, dc in same ch 1 space, sc next 3 sts, ch 1, tn – 4 sc, 4 dc

But with the magic of parenthesis, your pattern turns into:

dc next 3 sts, (sc, ch 1, dc) in ch 1 space, sc next 3 sts, ch 1, tn – 4 sc, 4 dc

Now your sc, ch 1, and dc all go into that ch 1 space. It’s easier to read and much faster to write down.

Sometimes you’ll see brackets and parenthesis in crochet patterns. I tend to use brackets to add parenthesis to a section of crochet pattern that already contains parenthesis. What!? Here’s what I mean.

[(sc, ch 1, dc) in ch 1 space, skip next st], repeat 7 times, ch 1, tn – 8 scallops

The portion in the brackets is what’s being repeated 7 times… all of it. The section in parenthesis tells you those 3 stitches are going into the ch 1 space.

Hopefully this has cleared up the use of parenthesis (and brackets) in crochet patterns, and you find that reading crochet patterns really isn’t all that bad. I always wonder if people are having trouble reading the patterns because of the crochet shorthand when they say, “Oh I could never work from crochet patterns.” I know I couldn’t figure it out when those words fell out of my mouth.

Once you get into the habit of reading crochet patterns, especially from different designers, you’ll notice that every crochet pattern designer kind of does the same thing. Sure, there are variations, but it gets easier the more you do it.

All of the KBG crochet patterns use parenthesis. You can see them all here.


  • ch – chain
  • sc – single crochet
  • dc – double crochet
  • tn – turn
  • st(s) – stitch(es)
  • – decreased single crochet

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{Crash Course Crochet} Parenthesis in Crochet Patterns – Why They Are There and How to Read Them

2 thoughts on “{Crash Course Crochet} Parenthesis in Crochet Patterns – Why They Are There and How to Read Them

  • November 29, 2016 at 10:54 pm

    Thank you so much for spelling out how to read parenthesis and brackets. I’ve been crocheting for 44 years and I can crochet the most intricate patterns. I should say that I used to be able to. I was treated for breast cancer following a double mastectomy. My treatment included chemo, radiation, and other drugs going through my port. Anyway, the reality of my treatment is that I now have poor memory and concentration. My neuropathy made crocheting impossible, but after a year and a half I can crochet in small increments of time.
    I’m attempting to follow a pattern for a Kid’s Marble Bag that includes parenthesis, brackets, *, **. and is levelled as “Easy.” Your easy to understand directions have helped me after trying for 4 hours, lol. Thank you so very much!

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