Understanding the Language of Crochet
Hi, folks! So, by now I am sure that you know the basics of crochet and are itching to stitch your first pattern. But, just hold your horses! Don’t dive in just yet. Jumping into a crochet pattern without understanding what you are reading is like diving into the deep end of the pool without knowing how to swim.
Reading a crochet pattern is quite literally like looking at a foreign language. Crochet has its own words, abbreviations, and symbols. If you don’t know them or understand the sentence structure it will be very easy to get lost, confused, and frustrated.
The best thing to do is to have a chart of crochet symbols, abbreviations, and their meanings handy when you are crocheting. Lucky for you, I’ve made one and I am going to share it with you. 🙂
But before we get into that, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
Crochet Pattern Reading Tips
- Patterns can be written in rounds, rows, or combinations of both. If it is written in rounds then your project will be worked in a circular or oval shape. If it is written in rows it will be horizontal or vertical.
- Most crochet patterns have a level of difficulty rating. These include beginner, easy, intermediate and advanced. As noted in The 10 Best Crochet Tips for Absolute Beginners, if you are a beginning crocheter, then find a crochet pattern labeled BEGINNER. You should always choose the level of difficulty most suited to your crochet abilities. Working with a crochet pattern that is too advanced will only lead to frustration. As you become more experienced, you will be able to successfully take on more difficult patterns.
- Be sure to count your stitches as you work to make sure that you have the number of stitches in each row or round as the pattern indicates.
- Always check your gauge. This is less important when crocheting a project where the size of the project doesn’t matter or you have plenty of yarn with which to work. However, when working on a project where the size is important, checking your gauge can be the difference between success and failure. –To check your gauge, crochet a swatch approximately 6 inches by 6 inches in the stitch pattern indicated in the crochet instructions. If the pattern provides gauge instructions then follow those. If your gauge is larger than the gauge noted in the pattern, then try using a smaller hook. If your gauge is smaller, then try using a larger hook.
Now let’s move onto the symbols and abbreviations. Here is a mini-listing of some of the most basic crochet symbols and abbreviations.
Now that you know some of the basic crochet symbols and abbreviations, let’s use them to learn how to read crochet patterns. Below I will give you examples of a typical crochet pattern and how to interpret what it means in standard American English. These examples are from several different actual crochet patterns, but together do not make up a pattern.
Pattern reads: Use G hk. With CA ch 19.
Interpretation: Using hook size G, make a foundation chain with 19 chains using Color A. ~OR~ Chain 19 using Color A using a hook size G.
Pattern reads: Row 1–Dc in the 2nd ch from the hk, dc across ch (28dc), ch 2 (beg hdc of next the row).
Interpretation: For row 1–double crochet in the second chain from the hook, double crochet across the foundation chain (you should have 28 double crochets), chain 2 (this will be the beginning half double crochet of the next row).
Pattern reads: Rnd 1–4 Dc in 4th ch from hk (ch-3 counts as Dc), dc in the next 14 ch, 5 dc in last ch, working on opposite side of beg ch , Dc in next 14 sts; join with sl st to top of ch-3. 38 sts.
Interpretation: For round 1–Double crochet 4 times in the fourth chain from the hook (the first 3 chains from the hook count as 1 double crochet), double crochet in the next 14 chains, make 5 double crochets in the last chain, working on the opposite side of the beginning chain, double crochet in the next 14 stitches; join with a slip stitch to the top of the first 3 chains from the hook, which counted as one double crochet. You should have 38 stitches.
Pattern reads: Rnd 5–Ch 3, Dc, [dc in the next 4 sts, 2 dc in the next st] around. Join. (45)
Interpretation: For round 5–Chain 3, make 1 double crochet in the first stitch, then double crochet in the next 4 stitches and make 2 double crochets in the following stitch—-you keep repeating “then double crochet in the next 4 stitches and make 2 double crochets in the following stitch” all the way around your project until you are back at the beginning. You join the working yarn to the beginning stitch usually with a slip stitch even if it is not stated. You should have 45 stitches.
Pattern Reads: Rnd 9–Ch 1, (sc, ch4, sc) all in the first dc; sk next dc, *(sc, ch4, sc) all in the next dc, repeat from * around; join.
Interpretation: For round 9–Chain 1, in the first double crochet of the previous round make a single crochet then chain 4 then make another single crochet, skip the next double crochet, then in the next double crochet of the previous round make a single crochet then chain 4 then make another single crochet—repeat “then in the next double crochet of the previous round make a single crochet then chain 4 then make another single crochet” all the way around your project until you are back at the beginning. You join the working yarn to the beginning stitch usually with a slip stitch even if it is not stated.
Pattern Reads: Row 2-3–Dc in 2nd st of prev row, *1 Fpdc in each of the next 3 st, 1 Bpdc in each of the next 3 st* across, 2 hdc in each of the last 2 st, ch2 (beg hdc of next row), turn.
Interpretation: For Rows 2 and 3 you will double crochet in the 2nd stitch of the previous row, then work 1 double crochet in the front post of the next 3 stitches, then work 1 double crochet in the back post of each of the next 3 stitches. Repeat “then work 1 double crochet in the front post of the next 3 stitches, then work 1 double crochet in the back post of each of the next 3 stitches” across the project until you get to the last 2 stitches. Then work 2 half double crochets in each of the last 2 stitches, chain 2 (this becomes the beginning half double crochet of the next row), turn your work.
NOTE: Sometimes you will see double asterisks ** , usually in combination with a single asterisk * or set of single asterisk instructions. This can have 2 meanings.
1. Repeat instructions between or from double asterisks as directed.
Pattern reads: Row 1–Ch 26, 1 Sc in 2nd ch from hk, **sk 2 ch, 5 Dc in next ch, sk 2 ch, 1 Sc in next ch. Repeat from ** to end of row. Turn.
Interpretation: For row 1–make 1 single crochet in the second chain from the hook, skip the next 2 chains, make 5 double crochets in the next chain, skip the next 2 chains, and single crochet in the next chain. Repeat “skip the next 2 chains, make 5 double crochets in the next chain, skip the next 2 chains, and single crochet in the next chain” to the end of the row. Turn your work.
2. Work a partial set of repeat instructions as indicated by double asterisks.
Pattern reads: Row 5–2 Dc in first st, *ch 2, sk next st, 4 Sc in next st, ch 2, sk next st**, 2 Dc in next st, rep from * around, ending last rep at **
interpretation: For row 5–make 2 double crochets in the first stitch, chain 2, skip the next stitch, make 4 single crochets in the next stitch, chain 2, skip the next stitch, make 2 double crochets in the next stitch. Repeat “chain 2, skip the next stitch, make 4 single crochets in the next stitch, chain 2, skip the next stitch” around, ending last repeat at “skip the next stitch”.
I realize that even after reviewing this post, learning to read a crochet pattern can be daunting, but don’t get discouraged. Reading crochet patterns takes practice.
You should keep the symbols & abbreviations chart on hand while you crochet. At first, you may find yourself constantly looking at the chart as you work to interpret a pattern. But, soon you will find you have memorized each symbol and abbreviation, as well as what they mean. Before you know it, you won’t need the chart anymore!
Have you mastered how to read a crochet pattern?
If not, leave a comment, maybe I can help!
Until next time… Happy Crocheting!