Learning how to read a crochet pattern for beginners can be overwhelming because it can be like reading another language.
If you have been following crochet video tutorials these are easy to follow, but not every crochet pattern comes with a video.
So being able to read and understand a written pattern will give you the flexibility to work on other projects.
In this article, we take you to step by step and break down the different parts of a crochet pattern including how to read the abbreviations in a crochet pattern.
Table of contents
- How to Read Crochet Patterns for Absolute Beginners
- Crochet Pattern Sections
- How to Read A Crochet Pattern
- 1. Title
- 2. Skill level
- 3. Materials
- 4. Size and Measurement
- 5. Gauge
- 6. Stitches and Abbreviations
- Common Crochet Shorthand
- 1. How To Read Commas In A Crochet Pattern
- 2. How to Read A Crochet Pattern With Parentheses
- 3. How to Read A Crochet Pattern With Brackets
- 4. How to Read Crochet Patterns With Asterisks
- Special Stitches or Techniques
- Finishing Instructions
- Easy Crochet Patterns For Beginners
- More Crochet Tutorials
- Stay Connected
How to Read Crochet Patterns for Absolute Beginners
In this article on How To Read A Crochet Pattern For Beginners, we will guide you through reading crochet patterns.
And with some practice and patience, you will become familiar with crochet terms and abbreviations, and you should easily be able to read and understand a crochet pattern.
They can also be written in rounds to make things like this crochet coaster patterns, doilies, soft toys, amigurumi, etc.
And crochet patterns are written using abbreviations and punctuation and you will need to understand these to complete a project and you will after reading this post.
So, let's break a crochet pattern down and learn how to read it.
Crochet Pattern Sections
Most crochet patterns will contain the following information:
- Skill level
- Size and measurements
- Stitches and Abbreviations
- Special Stitches
- Finishing instructions
Most of these sections explain themselves, but you may have difficulty understanding things like materials, size and measurements, gauge, stitches and abbreviations, and instructions, and this is where this article comes in handy.
So, let's get started and learn how to read a crochet pattern.
How to Read A Crochet Pattern
Before you start a new pattern, it is a good idea to read it through one or two times before starting the project.
Reading a pattern before starting a project, allows you to learn about what is needed to create the pattern, and allows you to become familiar with any new terms or stitches used in it.
Every crochet pattern will have a title, and some will have a description of the crochet project.
2. Skill level
The skill level is to help crocheters choose a pattern suitable to their skill level, and there are four skill levels.
Beginner (or basic) - This is the first level you should start at when learning to crochet. These patterns are normally made up of basic stitches and are a great way for a beginner can learn more about tension, gauge, and other crochet basics.
Easy - Once you have mastered the basics or feel like something more challenging, move on to easy patterns.
These patterns are usually a little more complex and will have color changes and shaping using techniques like increase and decrease or working in the round.
Please note: Most of the crochet patterns on Easy Breezy Crochet are beginner or easy level and each pattern is marked accordingly.
Intermediate patterns require a strong understanding of crochet techniques and are usually made up of complex and intricate patterns like filet crochet, Tunisian crochet, and crochet cables.
Advanced (Experience or Complex) patterns require in-depth crochet knowledge and experience.
The materials section of a crochet pattern is important because it lists all the necessary things you will need to finish the project like:
Yarn - This tells you the type of yarn to use, including it's
- weight or ply
- the fiber content, wool, cotton, or synthetic
- yarn color or yarn color combinations to use
- yarn yardage (meterage) per ball (or overall total) needed to complete the project
Read this page for more information about types of yarn for crochet.
Hook - This section gives you an indication of the hook size and type needed for the project.
Read this page for more about crochet hook sizes.
Notions - This section lists any additional supplies required to complete the project, such as stitch markers, scissors, tapestry needles, or other items.
4. Size and Measurement
Depending on what you are making patterns may or may not have a size and measurement section.
Knowing the size and measurement of a project can be helpful because it can:
- Help you understand the size of the project and the amount of time and effort that will go into completing it.
- It can help you select the correct pattern size when making garments like jumpers or socks.
A gauge (or tension) is a set number of stitches and rows that should have been worked in a test swatch with the recommended yarn, hook, and stitches.
Having the correct tension ensures that the finished pattern is the right size.
Some patterns will state that gauge is not that important, but if it is, make a gauge swatch to compare your tension to the pattern tension.
Read our page on crochet gauge for beginners to learn how to make a gauge swatch.
6. Stitches and Abbreviations
This section lists all the stitches and abbreviations used in the pattern.
Crochet patterns are abbreviated because some can be long, and when abbreviated they become shorter and easier to read.
Also, using abbreviations helps to standardize crochet patterns, making them easier to follow regardless of who created the pattern.
Listed below are some of the symbols and abbreviations you may see in a pattern.
Basic Stitch Abbreviations
- ch - chain
- st(s) - stitch(es)
- sc - single crochet
- hdc - half double crochet
- dc - double crochet
- tr - treble crochet
- sl st - slip stitch
Common Crochet Terms
- sk - skip one or more stitches as indicated in the pattern
- rep - repeat the stitch or stitch groups again
- inc - increase the number of stitches by adding one or more
- dec - decrease or eliminate one or more stitches
- yo - yarn over, this refers to placing the yarn over the hook
- sp - this indicates the space between stitches or a group of stitches.
- ch-sp - chain-space is used to indicate a space created by chaining one or more chain stitches.
- Turn - turn your work so that you can work the next row
See our page on crochet terms and abbreviations for other terms you may come across when reading a pattern.
And if you ever come across crochet patterns in another language you might find this translating patterns page handy.
Common Crochet Shorthand
Crochet patterns are written in a form of shorthand using commas, parentheses (), brackets , and asterisks *, and each of these give a different meaning to the pattern.
You will need to know these as well as the abbreviations of crochet stitches and crochet terms when following the instructions.
1. How To Read Commas In A Crochet Pattern
Commas are used in crochet to separate instructions or to show you where to repeat a certain set of stitches. For example:
sc in each st across, ch 1, turn
This means to single crochet in each stitch across the row, then chain one and turn your work.
ch 10, sc in 2nd ch from hook, sc in each ch across
This set of instructions is separated into two comma parts.
- The first part, ch 10, tells you to make ten chain stitches.
- The second part, sc in 2nd ch from hook, sc in each ch across, tells you to make one single crochet stitch in the second chain from the hook and then continue making one single crochet stitch in each chain stitch across.
sc in next 3 sts, ch 2, sk next 2 sts
In this set of instructions, there are three comma-separated parts.
- The first part, sc in the next 3 sts, tells you to make one single crochet stitch in each of the next three stitches.
- The second part, ch 2, asks you to make two chain stitches.
- The third part, sk next 2 sts, tells you to skip the next two stitches without making any stitches in them.
ch 3 (counts as dc), 2 dc in next st, *dc in next 2 sts, 2 dc in next st; repeat from * around, join with sl st to top of beginning ch-3
In this instruction, there are several comma-separated parts.
- The first part, ch 3 (counts as dc), tells you to make three chain stitches, which will count as your first double crochet stitch.
- The second part, 2 dc in next st, tells you to make two double crochet stitches in the next stitch.
- The third part *dc in next 2 sts, 2 dc in next st; repeat from * around, tells you to alternate between making one double crochet stitch in each of the next two stitches and making two double crochet stitches in the next stitch, repeating this pattern around the round.
- And the last part of the instruction, join with sl st to top of beginning ch-3, tells you to join the end of the round to the beginning by making a slip stitch in the top of the first chain-3 stitch.
2. How to Read A Crochet Pattern With Parentheses
Parentheses () are used in crochet to group instructions or stitches that should be worked together or in a certain way. For example:
ch 25 (28, 31)
- This instruction is telling you to make a chain that is 25 stitches long for the smallest size, 28 stitches long for the medium size, and 31 stitches long for the largest size.
- The numbers in parentheses are the stitch counts for each size, listed in the order of smallest to largest.
sc in next st, (ch 1, skip next st, sc in next st) across
- The first part sc in next st, is telling you to make one single crochet stitch in the next stitch.
- The second part in parentheses (ch 1, skip next st, sc in next st) is to make one chain stitch, skip the next stitch, and make one single crochet stitch in the following stitch, and the word "across" is asking you to repeat the sequence in the parentheses across the row to the end.
dc in next st, (ch 1, skip next st, dc in next st) twice, ch 3, (dc in next st, ch 1, skip next st) twice
- The first part of the instructions dc in next st, is telling you to make one double crochet stitch in the next stitch,
- The next part (ch 1, skip next st, dc in next st) twice, is asking you to repeat the instructions in parentheses twice. In this case, the instructions are to make one chain stitch, skip the next stitch, and make one double crochet stitch in the following stitch and to do this twice.
- Next, you are asked to ch3 which is to make 3 chain stitches.
- And the last part (dc in next st, ch 1, skip next st) twice tells you to make one double crochet in the next stitch, then chain one, skip the next stitch, and repeat the sequence inside the parentheses twice.
hdc in each st across (36 hdc)
- This instruction tells you to make one half-double crochet stitch in each stitch across the row.
- And the number in parentheses, 36, is the stitch count for the row.
3. How to Read A Crochet Pattern With Brackets
Brackets  in crochet patterns indicate a set of stitches that should be worked together or repeated multiple times within a row.
The brackets  serve as a grouping symbol to help organize the instructions and make them easier to follow.
Here are some ways brackets can be used in crochet patterns:
If a group of stitches is to be repeated a few times in a row or a round, the instructions will be put inside brackets. For example:
[dc in next st, ch 1] 6 times, hdc in last st
The above abbreviations mean that you need to work a double crochet stitch followed by one chain stitch, then repeat the sequence six times before working a half double crochet stitch in the last stitch of the row.
Work stitches together
The instructions for stitches that need to be worked together will be placed inside brackets, for example:
sc in next 2 sts, [dc2tog in next 2 sts, ch 1] 3 times
Here you work a single crochet stitch in the next two stitches, then double crochet two together in the next two stitches, followed by a chain one.
The 3 times after the brackets mean that the stitches inside the brackets must be repeated 3 times.
4. How to Read Crochet Patterns With Asterisks
When asterisks * are used in crochet patterns, they are used to indicate repeats. After the asterisks, there will be a set of instructions that tell you how many times to repeat the stitches. For example:
ch 20, sc in second ch from hook, [ch 1, skip 1 ch, sc in next ch] * repeat across the row, turn.
- Here the asterisk * is telling you that you should repeat the instructions ch 1, skip 1 ch, sc in next ch until the end of the row.
- So you would chain one, skip one chain, make a single crochet in the next chain, then repeat that sequence until you reach the end of the row.
Special Stitches or Techniques
Some crochet patterns will have a special stitch or techniques section that will include stitches that are not normally used in basic crochet.
This section will usually list the stitch abbreviations and the instructions on how to make the stitches.
Some stitches you might find in this section might include:
Bobble Stitch - BO
To make a bobble stitch, follow these steps:
YO, insert hook in next stitch, pull up a loop (3 loops on hook), *yo and pull through 2 loops (2 loops on hook) * repeat * to * 4 more times (you should have 6 loops on your hook, yo pull through all 6 loops on hook, c1 to close stitch
Lemon Peel Stitch - LP
To make a lemon peel stitch, follow these steps:
[sc in first st, dc in next st] * repeat across the row
Some patterns may also include the term "pattern multiple" in this section.
Pattern multiple refers to the number of stitches that are needed to complete a full repetition of a stitch pattern.
It is handy to know the pattern multiple because it allows you to resize patterns when making your own designs.
For example, you can reduce or decrease the pattern multiple to make a shawl smaller or larger.
In the instructions section, you will find all the necessary information to make the project.
And this is where you will put into practice your knowledge of basic crochet stitches, crochet abbreviations, and common crochet shorthand (as talked about earlier in this article) when reading the instructions.
The instructions section will also include any special instructions like color change, shaping, and other things needed to complete it.
Read the pattern from start to finish before you start your project to give you an idea of the overall pattern.
Take it one step at a time, and don't worry if you don't understand everything in the pattern the first time.
Instead, focus on completing one row or round at a time, and you will soon be able to read a crochet pattern without any worries.
This is the final step of the crochet pattern, and it tells you what needs to be done to complete the project, such as weaving in ends, blocking, or adding embellishments or any other instructions you need to follow to finish the project.
Easy Crochet Patterns For Beginners
Now that you know the basics for reading a crochet pattern, you can start a few beginner projects to put your knowledge into practice.
Here at Easy Breezy Crochet, we have many free printable crochet patterns for you to try on our Easy Beginner Crochet Patterns page.
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