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How to read Crochet Patterns

How to read Crochet Patterns, this is something similar to learning any language. There is a lot to study but if you understand the basic structure its very easy. One can understand the richness of Crochet Pattern language by knowing the fact that it has not only got the vocabulary and script like any other languages but also symbols to represent.

How to read crochet patterns

This is because each person has different grasping powers, some are more visual than others. Some people can learn by reading words while others by diagrams. So here in Cm-iH, I too try to give all possible ways (like step-by-step photo tutorial, instruction cards containing written patterns with abbreviations, chart diagrams and also video tutorial) while teaching how to make any basic stitch or pattern to any complicated projects. You probably might have read it in my about page or experienced it with my posts, I try to make things very simple and easy to understand as much as possible so that any type of person (more or less visual) and at any stage of her learning (beginner or expert) can understand it thoroughly.

When you start learning crochet on your own or even when someone teaches you, you will come across lots of terms which might be overwhelming or sometimes discouraging because of confusion. Trust me, all these terms are very easy to understand and very useful to make any project once you learn them. But obviously someone need to explain them in simple language so tell what exactly to follow, so this post is for you… 🙂 

Here we go,

How to read Crochet Patterns-

I have divided, How to read Crochet Pattern or How to learn Crochet Pattern in three segments depending on the various informational sources available in today’s world-

  1. Direct
  2. Short-forms
  3. Charts


This is a method when someone is directly teaching you sitting beside, or now a days its more applicable if you are learning yourself my watching online videos.

In Crochet Pattern, we have particular terms to each thing, similar to any spoken language; starting from a stitch to each and every process that takes place while crocheting. This is how any person can communicate with other person, directly or indirectly through videos.

For example: Stitchessingle crochet, double crochet etc. then beyond basic stitchesFlower pattern with double crochet together, front and back post double crochet etc. then the process- yarn over, skip etc.

Here is an example of Crochet Pattern with Direct method:

Make Chain 25.

Row 1: Starting from 4th chain from the hook make one double crochet in each chain. (23 stitches)

Row 2: Chain 3, make one double crochet in next two stitches, make chain space, i. e. chain 1, skip one stitch below and make one double crochet in next stitch, this will form a chain space. Repeat chain space till last 3 stitches (total 9 chain spaces), make one double crochet in each stitch. ( 23 stitches)

These terms are more or less universal except some stitch names. Broadly we can categorize stitches names in two types, UK and USA, it simply means UK crocheters used different stitch names than USA crocheters. But don’t worry, they are just slightly different. You can save or print this UK to USA stitch conversion chart and keep it handy so you can refer it any time.

NOTE: Before starting any project, always cross check either the crochet pattern is in UK or USA terminology.

Here in Cm-iH blog, I use USA terminology.


Second method of reading crochet pattern is through short-forms. Similar to any other language it has got its own script called as Crochet Abbreviations or Terminology. This is the short-form of all the terms used in direct method. These abbreviations are used in writing crochet patterns. For example: Single crochet- sc, Double crochet- dc, Yarn over- yo, Skip stitch- sk etc.

These abbreviations help to reduce long patterns to make short while writing down. Another important thing to remember here is use of symbols.

For example: [ ]- Brackets, ( )- Parentheses or *- asterisk. These symbol are very often used in written pattern and they mean-

[ ] – work instructions within brackets as many times as directed

( ) – work instructions within parentheses in the place directed

* – Repeat instructions between asterisks as many times as directed or repeat from a given set of instructions.

Here is the same example of Crochet Pattern written above in Direct method now we will see in Short-forms method:

Ch 25.

Row 1:  dc 1 in each st, starting from 4th ch (23 stitches)

Row 2: Ch 3, 1 dc in next 2 sts, *ch 1, sk 1, 1 dc in next st* repeat * to * till last 3 sts (9 ch sp), 1dc in each st. (23 sts)

Don’t worry, no need to remember everything now, just save or print  this Crochet Abbreviations or Terminology chart and keep it handy so you can refer it any time.

REMINDER: Here in Cm-iH blog, I use USA terminology so this chart has Crochet Abbreviations as per USA standards.


Then the third method is through graphical symbols. This is a very fascinating thing in crochet patterns as the whole pattern can be represented with few graphical symbols. Some crocheters find it very easy to crochet with these chart diagrams than by written patterns.

Here is the same example of Crochet Pattern written above in Direct method and Short-forms method now in chart diagram method:

how to read crochet pattern chart diagram

 General guidelines to remember while reading crochet patterns:

  • Choose the level of difficulty most suited to your crochet abilities. Avoid the frustration in trying to work with a crochet pattern that is too advanced. As you gain more crochet experience, you will be able to successfully tackle more difficult patterns.
  • Crochet patterns are worked in either rows or rounds. Each pattern will specify whether you are working in rows, rounds or a combination of both.
  • It is important to count your stitches as you work so you have as many stitches on each row or round as the pattern indicates. This is the most common mistake even expert crocheters make which leads to frustration. I have even mentioned it in my e-book 7 Mistakes every crocheter makes & Help-tips to overcome them! 
  • Always use suggested material in the pattern. At least at the beginning stage when you are just learning crochet, it is best to stick to suggested material as it reduces the chances of failure to a great extent. 
  • Continuation to above point, even if you are using suggested material as per pattern, always test your gauge. It is given in the pattern for a reason, each person has different tension of crocheting. So it is important to test your gauge to avoid any problem after completing it. To test your gauge, crochet a swatch with the suggested crochet hook and yarn then cross check it with gauge given in the pattern. If your gauge is larger than the gauge indicated, try a smaller hook. If your gauge is smaller, try a larger hook.

Final Note on How to read Crochet Patterns-

Reading crochet patterns takes practice, so don’t be discouraged in the beginning if you don’t understand all of the patterns you would like to crochet. You will make mistakes that is how we learn any language right? The more you practice, the easier it becomes. Try all methods, and eventually you will learn what method is comfortable for you. Very soon, you’ll be able to follow any crochet pattern you wish.

There are few more things that you should learn before starting crochet like, Learn important things about the Crochet Hooks & How to select the perfect Crochet Hook for you!

Even Check out How to choose good crochet pattern right at the beginning so avoid frustration.

I am sure this post would have helped you to clarify on How to read Crochet patterns. If you stumble across or need any clarification in crochet pattern reading, don’t hesitate to drop me an e-mail or comment below, I will be happy to clarify. My Best wishes are with you!

Happy Crocheting!

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