How to Read a Crochet Pattern
Reading a crochet pattern can seem incredibly daunting, especially if you come across a stitch chart for something like colorwork.
Even with simple patterns, all the abbreviations and unfamiliar writing style can make understanding what the designer is saying impossible.
But I’m here to tell you that not only is it possible to learn, but it’s actually simpler than you may think.
My mom always told me that if you can read, you can cook. The same principle applies here.
Just think about it, you know what a single crochet is. It’s all a matter of recognizing abbreviations.
Not to mention, almost every abbreviation for basic stitches is very intuitive. Here’s some of the most basic abbreviations.
Ch – chain
Sl st – slip stitch
Sc – single crochet
Hdc – half double crochet
Dc – double crochet
If you’re interested in deep diving into many more abbreviations, the Craft Yarn Council has a detailed overview of all the standards here.
Read the Pattern Notes Carefully
Every pattern should have a page before the main pattern that details materials, stitches used, special stitches, and notes. (If it doesn’t then I would recommend contacting the designer.)
Special Stitches – these might have special abbreviations, but they should be written out in this part. You can always refer back here if you forget halfway through the pattern.
Notes – this section will help you understand any tricky parts of the pattern. For example:
When you chain 3 at the beginning of a row, that chain 3 does not count as a double crochet. Work the next stitch into the same stitch as the chain.
If you have a printer, print out your pattern and highlight parts that might be important, like special stitches.
Break it down
Most patterns will say to read the whole thing before you start, but let’s be honest, that’s a LOT of info to take in if you’re new to reading patterns. I recommend looking through the whole pattern and taking one section at a time.
Are several parts? If it’s a sweater, is it worked from the top down or the bottom up?
If it’s an amigurumi, are the arms and legs all separately seamed on or worked all together with the body and head?
Look at all the photos.
When you have a pretty good idea of what direction the pattern is going in, then start with the first section.
Here’s a sample pattern.
Pro Tip: Try reading the pattern out loud and it will make more sense.
Ex. Row 1: sc in the second ch from the hook, sc in each st across. (10)
Ex. Say: Single crochet in the second chain from the hook, then single crochet in each stitch across. Total of 10 stitches. The total number of stitches in a given row is almost always indicated by () at the end of the row.
One row at a time
Take it slow. It’s not a race.
If you need to cover the rest of the pattern so you can focus on one line at a time, then do it.
The more patterns you work from, the easier this process will become.
And if you make a mistake, you can either frog it (unravel it) or keep going. Every mistake is a lesson learned and part of the journey.
Even if you’re a perfectionist like me, try not to let the mistakes bother you. You can always make another one and you’ll get better and better with each project.
If you get stuck…
Reach out the designer.
It’s a fact that while the Craft Yarn Council has set standards, there are an astonishing amount of independent designers that self-publish on sites like Etsy, Ravelry, and many more.
I’m one of them.
Each designer has their own style of writing and while the abbreviations shouldn’t change, sometimes patterns can vary wildly.
Here’s an example:
Both versions are correct.
If something just isn’t clicking or you think the pattern might have a mistake, just reach out (politely, please – we’re happy to help).
Sometimes designers (myself included) get caught up in our own knowledge and forget that not everyone understands what we mean by 3sc.
Does it mean 3 sc in the same stitch or 1 sc in each of the next 3sts?
We’re human. It happens.
We want you to be confident and happy making your pattern. So if you’re stuck, just ask.
Now that we’ve gone through some easy steps, I hope you’re inspired to try reading your first pattern.
You can do it!
If you’re interested in some easy amigurumi patterns, check out my Anton the Armadillo pattern. Anton works up fast and is the perfect beginner-friendly pattern.
If hope you found this article helpful and if you’d like to know more tips about crochet, check out: 5 Easy Tips to Make Your Amigurumi Better.