Even if you know how to do crochet stitches, you may need a little help reading patterns. They can seem a bit confusing and daunting at first, but don’t worry, you can do it if you practice! Let’s get started.
To get anywhere reading a crochet pattern, you need to understand the terms and abbreviations. There are lots of terms out there for various stitches and techniques, but we’re going to focus on the basics for now. If you continue expanding your skills, you can brush up on any other stitches you need as you encounter them.
|hdc||half double crochet|
|tr (or trc)||triple (treble) crochet|
|sl st||slip stitch|
There are some terms you may be familiar with if you’re already a knitter:
|turn||turn your piece around to work the other side|
|join||join two stitches together, like when working in the round|
(Abbreviations via the Craft Yarn Council)
So, for example, if a pattern says “ch 4, sc into 2nd ch, sc across, turn” you would first chain 4. Then, you would single crochet into the second chain, single crochet across the row, and turn your work. Crochet patterns may seem confusing at first, but once you sit down and work through them, they’ll become much clearer. Just keep practicing!
Crochet charts are fairly different from knitting charts, so if you’re used to those, this might seem hard, but I promise it’s not!
Knitting charts are generally laid out like a grid, with one stitch on top of the other, because that’s the way knitted fabric is constructed. But with crochet, there’s a bit more freedom with shape, and the charts often reflect that.
In general, there will be a symbol for each stitch used — likely using the symbols above — and it will be drawn in a way that shows you into where you will work it. You may not be working into the stitch directly below. You could be working into a space, or increasing and decreasing. But crochet charts lay it out fairly exactly. Once you understand how they work, they can often help remove confusion.
As an example, look at the chart for Fanfare stitch. The numbered rows indicate the side you are starting from, so in the case here you read the odd numbered rows from right to left and the even numbered rows from left to right.
It shows you exactly which stitches and spaces you are working into to create the fanfare effect. Written out, the pattern would read like this:
Row 1: Work 1 sc in 2nd ch from hook, 1 sc in next 2 ch, *ch 3, skip 3 ch, 1 sc in next 3 ch; rep from * across. Turn.
Row 2: Ch 1, 1 sc in first 2 sc, *skip 1 sc, 5 dc in ch-3 sp, skip 1 sc, 1 sc in next sc; rep from * end 1 sc in last sc. Turn.
Row 3: Ch 4 (counts as 1 sc and ch 3), skip (2 sc, 1 dc), 1 sc in next 3 dc, *ch 3, skip (1 dc, 1 sc, 1 dc), 1 sc in next 3 dc; rep from * to last 4 sts, end ch 3, skip (1 dc, 1 sc), 1 sc in last sc. Turn.
Row 4: Ch 3 (counts as 1 dc), 3 dc in first ch-3 sp, *skip 1 sc, 1 sc in next sc, skip 1 sc, 5 dc in ch-3 sp; rep from *, end last rep 4 dc in last ch-3 sp. Turn.
Row 5: Ch 1, 1 sc in first 3 dc, *ch 3, skip (1 dc, 1 sc, 1 dc), 1 sc in next 3 dc; rep from * across. Turn.
In the end, following this chart should give you a piece of crochet work that looks like this:
The Lion Brand Stitch Finder has quite a few different crochet stitches and patterns to try out. Many of them include charts in addition to written directions, so they are a great way to practice using them! You may ultimately decide you prefer written instructions over charts (or vice versa), but it’s a good idea to be proficient at both in case you encounter a pattern that only provides one of them.