Correctly reading crochet instructions can be the difference in a project being a pleasurable or an ordeal. I have had several students over the years that could crochet beautifully for years but would take my beginner class for the sole reason of learning to read a crochet pattern. They had crocheted for years but were never taught to read a pattern. This developed a lot of unnecessary frustration and limited their advancement and their skill development. They were totally at the mercy of someone showing them a new pattern since it had to be limited to what they could retain and take with them.
I like to tell people that not knowing how to read a crochet pattern is like being able to play the piano and not being able to read a note of music. With a little more direction they could play a concert masterpiece and understood what they had done. So it is with understanding the pattern and crocheting. So for some then, this may be very basic for you, please bear with me- I am hoping it will help others.
First lets cover some fundamental things to consider when reading a crochet pattern.
Crochet patterns are worked in either rows or rounds or a combinations of both. Each pattern will specify which.
One of the things I always caution students not to do, is to pick a pattern that is too advanced for them. Most crochet patterns will be rated according to the level of difficulty. The levels are beginner, easy, intermediate, advanced or experienced. Choose the pattern accounting to your skill level. Then as you gain experience in crochet move to the next pattern level.
It is important to count the stitches in each row. I have seen many people, myself included, pull out rows upon rows of work because they lost or gained stitches. It may make you work slower but in the long run it will save you time.
Before you start any pattern, check the gauge. I cannot stress this enough. I have covered all my reasons in an earlier post so I will not repeat myself here. (Here is the Link How to Crochet Evenly Every Stitch) However I would strongly suggest you make this the first thing you do with any project.
In reading a crochet pattern I emphasize to people that it is a step by step process and must be treated in that way. So when reading a crochet pattern I always tell students to read from punctuation to punctuation, stop and do what it tells you, then repeat the process. In the beginner student this will keep you from being overwhelmed with steps that are hard to remember.
First the Abbreviations: I tried to give you as complete of a list as possible. These are the abbreviations I have come across if I missed any I apologize ahead of time. Please keep in mind we are only covering the written form of instructions, I will not be covering the Internationals Symbols or graph form type of instructions.
blk …. block
CA, CB, CC, etc …. Color A, Color B, Color C, etc.
ch(s) …. chain(s)
cm …. centimeter(s)
dec ….. decrease
dc …. double crochet
tr ….double treble
E tr…..Elmore treble
E d tr…..Elmore double treble
g, (gm)….grams h
dc …. half double crochet
inc …. increase
mm …. millimeter(s)
rep …. repeat
rnd(s) …. round(s)
RS …. right side
sc …. single crochet
sc2tog…..single crochet two stitches together
sk …. skip
sl …. slip
sp(s) …. space(s)
st …. stitch(es)
tog …. together
tr …. treble
trtr…..triple triple crochet
WS …. wrong side
yo …. yarn over* or
** … repeat whatever follows the * or ** as indicated
Note: each specialty stitch will have their own abbreviation, for example a front post double crochet is written fpdc, but each pattern will write these down for you. Make sure you look for them before you start a project.
*…..Repeat the instructions which immediately follow the * the number indicated.
[ ] …. work directions in brackets the number of times indicated
( ) Parentheses can be used the same way brackets are used, but are usually used in combination with them. Parentheses can also be used to list sizes for example 6 (8) (10). They also could be used to list inches for a corresponding size example 18 (20) (22).
work even…continue working in the same pattern over the same number of stitches.
turn:….Turn work over so that the reverse side is now facing you.
gauge…the number of stitches per inch horizontally and the number of rows vertically.
Usually a pattern will have a set gauge for the pattern.
place markers….Place a stitch marker where the pattern indicates.
blocking. Bringing pieces into shape by steaming or pressing.
multiple… The number of stitches required to complete one pattern design.
right side. …This refers to the side you started work your first row on. This will be the front or right side of your project.
Turning chain….A number of chain stitches worked at the end of a row to make the first stitch in the next row. This will give the row the proper height to start the row. For example you chain three to work a row of double crochets.
Let’s practice reading:
Keep in mind you do not have to memorize all of this at once. Print this post out and keep it handy for a reference until you are familiar with them. It will not take as long as you might think.
Now let test what you know, first I will list the abbreviation form then the long form. See it you can read it correctly before you read the long form.
ch 2, sc in 2nd ch from hook, ch 1 and turn.
You chain 2, and then single in the 2nd chain from the hook, chain 1, then turn your work where the back side is now facing you.
(ch 2, sk 1 sc, sc in the next sc) 7 times, sc to 2 std before the end, leaving rem sts unworked.
(chain 2, skip 1 single crochet, single crochet in the next single crochet) repeat this process 7 times, the single crochet across to 2 stitches before the end. Leave the last two stitches unworked.
Remember start with a beginner pattern and work your way toward the more advanced ones. The more you do something the easier it will become.
Note: I am going to share a secret with you a lot of people are unaware of. Every crochet company has a technical support number. When this number is called you will hear an answering machine. You leave your name, number, the name of the book, the page, and row you are having trouble with. The company will call you back and talk you through your problem. This has kept me from walking away from many a project. Start your list now and keep it around. You never know when it might come in handy.
Until next week, keep those hooks flying.