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Reading Crochet Patterns

Crochet patterns have their own special shorthand that can be intimidating to beginners, but it is easy to figure out once you know the rules. First, almost all the crochet terminology is abbreviated to save space. The abbreviations used are usually listed at the end of the pattern, but some common ones are ch (chain), sc (single crochet), and dc (double crochet).

Example:
Ch 12 = chain 12.

Second, crochet pattern directions are written by the row or round, since crochet is always worked either in rows or in rounds. In most patterns, you will be asked to “turn” the work before moving on to the next row. This simply means that you flip the work over so the backside is facing you before moving on. The step ends with the number of stitches you should have once the row or round is completed. For patterns that call for periodic increases and decreases in stitch numbers, it is always a good idea to count your stitches before moving on to the next step.

Example:
Row 1. Sc in each ch across. 12 sc.

The last and most confusing part of crochet patterns is the symbols used. Some parts of the instructions may be given in (parentheses) or [brackets]; these are sets of instructions that are either intended to be worked together as one collective stitch, or that are intended to be repeated a given number of times before moving on to the next part of the instructions.

Example:
Row 5. Ch 2; turn. (Sc, ch 1, sc) in each ch-1 space across.

Sometimes an asterisk* will appear before certain parts of the pattern. This indicates that the instructions following the asterisk will be repeated within the same row.

Example:
Row 10. Ch 2; turn. Skip first sc, *sc in next sc, skip ch-1 space, sc in next sc; repeat from * across.

Once the pattern terminology is broken down, it should be easy to figure out what the pattern is asking you to do. Just take it one stitch, one bracket, one row at a time.

43 comments:

  1. when you have a corner that ask for 2 doubles 3 chains and 2 doubles,
    when they you give you a number of how many doubles you should have after you have done all 4 sides of a baby blanket. Do your include the ones you put into the corner? I have ripped out the edging 3 times, my count has been right including the corner doubles. But the pattern designs are not coming out right.
    I think the way you start out a roll this shoud be the same on the end of that roll and it isn't.
    What reall gets to me, I have done this one before and didn't have any trouble,I have made over 30 some baby blankets, sure could use some help . Thank you.
    my email is sccmom1@socal.rr.com
    714-537-9769 (Lana)

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  2. The count should include the corner stitches. I'll email you privately and see if I can help you figure it out. :)

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  3. Hi! Please help me! I'm so confused with this heart pattern, I want to pull my hair out.

    Rnd 1 Ch 4, tr4tog in ring, ch 7, sc in ring, ch 7, tr5tog in ring, ch 8, dtr5tog in ring, ch 8, join with slip st to top of first cluster.
    (3 clusters)
    Rnd 2 ch 1, sc in same stitch, 8 sc in next 2 ch-7 spaces, sc in next cluster, 8 sc in ch 8 space, (sc, ch 3, sc) in next cluster, 8 scin next ch-8 space, join with slip st to first sc.

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    1. Hi Anonymous! Which part are you getting stuck on? The "clusters" the pattern is referring to should be the tr4tog, tr5tog, and dtr5tog. If that doesn't help you, please email me at selena k {at} crochet kitten {dot} com/

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  4. I am very confused with a pattern for a pansy. There are parenthesis and brackets.
    With right side facing, join yarn with sl st to same sc as last sl st worked, [sc, ch1, dc, ch1,( tr ,ch 1) 5 times, dc, ch 1 scc] in next ch2 space......

    My question is the (tr,ch1) repeated five times as well at the end of each previous sequence?

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  5. Hi Jen! The way the pattern reads to me is that you only repeat the (tr, ch 1) 5 times. Everything before and after it is only worked once. To write it out long hand, it would say [sc, ch 1, dc, ch 1, tr, ch 1, tr, ch 1, tr, ch 1, tr, ch 1, tr, ch 1, dc, ch 1, sc] in next ch-2 space... Does that make sense?

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  6. Thank you so much. Now I understand. That interpretation works. I see how those instructions work now. Hopefully next time I come up against {}and () I will b e able to figure it out. I really appreciate your help. I find the internet full of kind, helpful strangers.

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  7. Hi I don't know if you can help me or not I am so lost. Im tring to start a new project. The first thing is a Strip (make 6) Foundation Row (Right side): *ch 4,3dc in fourth ch from hook, drop loop from hook, insert hook in first dc of 4-dc group, hook dropped loop and draw through st, ch 1 to close ; repeat from * 56 times more: 57 popcorns. OK I got that and made 6 of them. Now Im to begin working in rounds. Rnd 1: Ch 4, do not turn (( not sure i get that )) ;3dc in fourth ch from hook, drop loop from hook, insert hook in first dc of 4-dc group, hook dropped loop and draw through st, ch 1 to close, ((So basically making a popcorn got that)) Now it says (ch3, work Popcorn) twice in the same ch as first Popcorn, work v-st in same ch as next Popcorn across to last Popcorn, work [Popcorn, (ch3,Popcorn) twice]in ch at base of last Popcorn; working across opposite side of Foundation Row, work V-st in same ch as next Popcorn across; join with slip st to top of first Popcorn: 112 v-Sts and 6 popcorns. HELP were do I start with the founddation row.I thought this one looked pretty simple but Im not getting it. Thank you so much if you can help me. you can email me at bratazz69@ yahoo.com if that would be easyer.

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    1. Let me see if we can take things one at a time:

      "Rnd 1: Ch 4, do not turn"--This just means you don't flip the piece over between rounds. On flat pieces you alternate between working with the front facing you and working with the back facing you. In this pattern you will always have the front facing you.

      It's a little confusing the way this pattern is written, but if you look, it says to make 6 strips--not six foundation rows. So when you make each strip, start with the foundation row, then move on to round 1 without cutting the yarn, then the next round, etc, until you are done with all the rounds. THEN your first strip should be done, and you can start the second strip, and continue in that manner until you are done with all 6 strips. At least that is what I can assume without know what the pattern is. Does that make sense?

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  8. Please help!! My pattern reads "dc2tog" -- is that simply 2 dc in same space? Or something different?

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    1. Actually, that is something different. dc2tog usually means the same thing as decreasing a double crochet. See this tutorial here: http://crochetkitten.blogspot.com/2007/03/decrease-dec-double-crochet-dc.html It's basically working two double crochets, but finishing them so that they count as only one stitch instead of two.

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  9. AnonymousJune 06, 2012

    Hey can anyone help me? im a bit confused by a jumper im making. it says leave 30 center stitches. so and dont find me silly for asking do this mean i coninue down one side and then go back to ther side to continue. how does this work?

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    1. It's hard to say without seeing the pattern, but I'm guessing you're at the part where you start the shoulder shaping, in which case I would assume that you are working some rows on one side, finishing off, skipping 30 stitches in the center, and then working the rows on the other side.

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    2. *When I said shoulder shaping, I meant neckline shaping.

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    3. AnonymousJune 07, 2012

      I think so. do i just skip 30 stitches in the middle and do one side then go back to the other side. just leaving a big gap in the middle? this is the pattern 

      http://www.allcrafts.net/fjs.htm?url=caron.com%2Fprojects%2Fss%2Fss_simple_tunic.html

      also when its talking about decreasing and it says for example decrease both sides 3rows 4x1 chain.
      Im a bit confused by what this means.

      Thank you for replying!

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    4. Can you tell me which parts of the pattern you are looking at? I can't find them in the link you gave.

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    5. AnonymousJune 09, 2012

      I think it was the main body. my main point is. i am trying to learn how to crochet a jumper just a simple, nice ladies jumper. maybe wheb i can do that i would like to try a mans jumper. i would just like an explanation of how to do it. even if im using all kind of stitches. just a basic guide of what to do really? Can you suggest anything?
      Have you ever crocheted a jumper?

      I really appreciate your helping me.

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    6. I'm sorry for my delayed response. We've had a rough couple of weeks at our house, which you can read about more here: http://crochetkitten.blogspot.com/2012/06/dog-crosses-rainbow-bridge.html

      Your question unfortunately doesn't have a simple answer, as there are many techniques for making sweaters. However, I would refer you to this book: http://www.amazon.com/Custom-Crocheted-Sweaters-Garments-Really/dp/160059798X

      It is a fantastic resource that explains basic sweater construction and goes over the techniques, so that you can learn how to create your own using your own stitches. If you don't want to purchase it, your local library should have a copy. That's where we came across it.

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  10. AnonymousJune 11, 2012

    http://www.crochetme.com/blogs/crochet_me/archive/2011/10/06/crocheted-sweaters.aspx

    the picture in the bottom left. next to where the name is signed toni. this is what i want ti make. can anybody help me please?!?

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    1. That pattern is beautiful! Are you asking where to find it? I found the info here: http://www.interweavestore.com/Crochet/Patterns/Northern-Dreams-Pullover.html

      If you're asking for help on a specific part of the pattern, I'll need more info. You can e-mail me at selena k {at} crochet kitten {dot} com.

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  11. AnonymousJune 20, 2012

    What if it has a double hash mark? I'm stuck on making a circle for a granny square. The pattern reads...sl st in top of beg ch--16 dc. Fasten off...the hashes are throwing me off????

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    Replies
    1. Here I think the hash mark is indicating the end of the directions for that round. 16 dc should be the stitch count for the round.

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  12. I sure hope someone can help me. I thought I was an experienced crocheter but I'm stuck on this and I know it should be simple but this is day 3 and I've yet to get it. I'm making a spiral hat and the pattern reads: ch4(counts as 1dc & ch1), *puff st in next st, ch1, **dc in next 2 sts, ch1, rep from * around ending at **, dc in last st, join. Does this mean I puff st my way around or do I do a puff st followed by the dc in 2 sts or what? Please HELP!!!

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    1. The way I'm reading it, you do the puff st followed by the dc in 2 st, ch 1. You repeat the whole sequence around, but the very last repeat at the end of the round will be just a puff st without the dc in 2 st.

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  13. Hi, working on a scarf, having problem understanding the pattern. It gives foundation row, next is 1st round - last instruction for this round says Rep 1st row 15 times more. next the pattern gives instruction for 1st row and goes on to say that this 1st row sets the pattern, keep continuity of pattern and continue till scarf measures etc,etc. my problem is what am i to repeat 15 times the instruction for the round or the row? any ideas???

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    1. Based on what you've described, I'd say you should repeat the round 15 times, since they don't give you instructions for the row until after that.

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  14. Hi,
    I am Soundari. I am trying to make this baby bow tunic for 6 months old baby. I took the pattern from the link below

    www.michaels.com/Baby-Bow-Tunic/30238

    After the 10th row I did the pattern for 7 times. But it says Cont even in pat until 11".....I need to know what is this even in pat means??? Should repeat the pattern? If so how many times?

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    1. Hi Soundari! Thank you for including the link! If you look earlier in that pattern, it says that rows 2 & 3 form the "pattern." So just repeat rows 2 & 3 until it measures 11 inches in length from row 1. Also, it says to end on a wrong side row, which would be a row 2 repeat.

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    2. Thanks Selena...Still I have a doubt...If I am repeating row 2 and 3 as the pattern should I not do the row 6???

      As of now my work looks as below

      Ch 68, Row 1, Row 2, Row 3, Row 4(as 2) Row 5(as 3) Row 6 Rows 7-10( 2& 3 twice),

      Row 11 - 45(Row 6, 2&3 twice)
      Row 46 ...I stopped here.

      Let me repeat the question If row 46 will be as row 2 and row 47 as row 3....Should I not do row 6 pattern anymore in this?


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    3. You should only do Row 6 once. Rows 7-10 will be as Rows 2 & 3 in Color A. Then Rows 11 and the remaining rows will be as Rows 2 & 3 in the Main Color (MC) until it measures 11 inches from Row 1. In other words, don't repeat Row 6. :)

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    4. Thanks Selena!!! Got it....I am sorry for bothering you too much....I am a beginner for this crochet, that's why lot of questions.

      I continued with the pattern as you said. Now again I am stuck with the shaping of armholes.

      Please please help me in this. What should I do after 5 slip stich, 1 chain, 1 sc and after this how should I continue...

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    5. It looks like you're doing the pattern again until you get to the last 6 stitches. It says this row is a RS (right side) row, which is a row 3 repeat. So after the 5 sl st, ch 1, sc, you would do *ch 1, miss next sc. 1 sc in next ch-1 sp; then repeat from the * until you get to the last 6 stitches. The last 6 stitches will be left unworked (no stitches in them).

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  15. I'm trying to crochet a vest following a pattern from the vintage Gypsy Vest book. Could someone write out instructions on how to do reverse shaping? The pattern gives instructions for one side of the vest then tells you to do the other side in reverse but doesn't explain how to do the reverse. Could someone write it out for me? Thank you.

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    1. Unfortunately it would likely be a violation of copyright if I tried to rewrite it for you. It shouldn't be too difficult to figure out if you take it row by row, though. Just start at the end of the row and work your backward. :)

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  16. AnonymousJuly 11, 2013

    Can someone help me clarify....ch5 (counts as dc and ch 2) I know the literal meaning, however in the pattern when it calls for a dc does it mean it wants me to dc and ch 2 every time the pattern calls for a dc? here is an example

    3rd Row: Ch 5 (counts as dc and ch 2). 1 dc in next CL. (2dc in next ch2 sp. 1 dc in next CL) twice. [Ch 3. Miss the next dc. 1 dc in the next CL. (2dc in next ch-2sp. 1 dc in next CL) twice].10 times.

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    1. Nope, it's just the first 5 chains that count as a dc and ch 2. The remaining dc are just counted as a dc. It should make more sense when you get to the 4th row. :)

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  17. AnonymousJuly 30, 2013

    Can you help me clarify this instruction. Now, when you are satisfied with the length, "start from the bottom of your piece (the opposite of where you started" and single crochet in each stitch only until you almost reach your pets arms, turn, leave remaining stitches unworked. I don't understand what it means, "from the bottom of your piece" (the opposite of where you started. Does that mean where I started when I did the chains at the beginning.

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    1. Hiya! Yes, that's exactly what it means. You're gonna work in the unused loops of the beginning chain. :)

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  18. Please clarify further. What do you mean by unused loops. Am I folding the two sides and kind of sewing them together.

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    1. Well, it depends on the pattern. Most would have you cut the yarn, and join with a slip stitch in the unused loops before you start single crocheting in those, which is what I suspect your pattern is trying to tell you to do. But some patterns might have you "sew" the two edges together in the way you just described. Without seeing the full pattern, I can't really tell you for sure.

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  19. Thanks for you help. I think I will stick to making blankets.

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  20. What does this mean, "Keeping continuity of pattern, work across first 8

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    1. "Keeping continuity of pattern" means to just keep doing what you've been doing on that section. So if you've been doing 2 dc, ch 2, 2 sc (for example), you would keep doing that.

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