Crochet patterns can appear to be daunting but in reality, they are very simple to understand if you know how to read them.
Here is a quick overview on how to read crochet patterns.
Terminology based on country
While the crochet stitches are universal, the abbreviations by which they are indicated in crochet patterns vary based on the country of origin. It is important to know these differences as the success of your project depends on it.
In the table below, each row indicates the same stich and how it is abbreviated in patterns based on the country of origin.
|Slip stitch||Sl st, ss||Slip stitch||Sl st, ss|
|Single crochet||sc||Double crochet||dc|
|Half double crochet||Hdc||Half treble crochet||htr|
|Double crochet||Dc||Treble crochet||tr|
|Triple or treble crochet||Tr or Trc||Double treble crochet||dtr|
Words /symbols you will encounter when reading a pattern
|Word (abb)||What does it mean||When is it used|
|Increase (inc)||Make 2 stitches in the same space||When you are increasing the size of your work|
|Decrease (dec)||Combine 2 stitches into one||When you are decreasing the size of your work|
|Repeat (rep)||You repeat what is stated||When you are repeating the same stitches|
|( )X||Repeat what is in the parenthesis however many times it is indicated||Used when you have to repeat the same set of stitches multiple times|
|** **||Repeat what is indicated between the 2 sets of asterisks||Used when you have to repeat the same set of stitches multiple times|
Most of your projects will be based on a circle or a rectangle/square shape. Here are some other hints to consider while following your crochet pattern.
Other important things to know when following a crochet pattern based on shapes
- Circles are started with a magic circle. Click here on a tutorial of how to make that.
- Your work is referred to in ROUNDS.
- Each round ends with a slip stitch and begin with a chain 1,2 or 3 depending on the stitches that you are using. Ch 1 is used when using a single stitch and ch 2 for hdc and dc. Ch 3 is used while using a tr stitch. This is considered to be your turning chain and is not counted in the number of stitches indicated in your pattern.
- When you start counting the stitches in the circle, the first stich is made in the SAME space as the ch 1,2 or 3.
- These shapes begin with the a chain.
- The first stitch of the chain is made either in the first, ch from the hook for your sc, second ch from the hook for Hdc and Dc and 3rd ch from the hook for the tr stitch. This is counted as your turning ch as well as your first st.
- Here, your work is referred to in ROWS.
- Each row starts with a ch 1,2 or 3 depending on the stich that you are using (sc, hdc/dc, tr). The first st in the pattern is made in the SAME space as the chain. This is is considered to be your turning chain and is not counted in the number of stitches indicated in your pattern.
- Each row ends with turning your work around.
What are “loops”?
Each stich that you create has 2 loops – the front loop and the back loop. When looking at your work from the top, you will notice that each stich is in a shape of a chain ring. The front of the ring is called your front loop and the back is called your back loop.
The hdc is special. It has a 3rd loop which is located behind the “chain” that is created with each stitch.
When patterns call for stitches in the front, back loop or 3rd loop (abbreviated FL only, BL only or 3rd loop) make the indicated stich only by inserting your hook in that particular loop. Check out my free crochet guide here on how to make these stitches.
What are posts?
The “base”, “stalk” of each stitch is called a post. Some patterns will call for front post (FP) and back post (BP). Check out my free crochet guide here on how to make these stitches.