Being able to read crochet patterns will open up a whole new world of crochet for you! You’ll be able to move your skill level beyond just the basics and finally make those more challenging projects.
There is nothing more frustrating than spending your time and money looking for that perfect crochet pattern only to find out it is written poorly or in a way you aren’t used to. I think we’ve all been there at least once, I know I have!! I want to give you my top tips for deciphering these hard-to-understand crochet patterns so you can be a pattern-reading pro + I have a really helpful crochet cheat sheet for you to print and keep.
I can’t tell you how many comments I’ve gotten asking for a video for a pattern because they can’t read patterns. It’s time to take the bull by the horns and learn this skill once and for all. Break that video habit.
Now I’m not against videos, I use them too from time to time. Plus I have my own Youtube channel now! If you want to move past doing basic things into the more complicated and fun stuff. Then you need to have an understanding of how to read a crochet pattern.
Here are my top tips for learning to read crochet patterns.
-Take a look at the abbreviations and stitches used in the pattern
Most patterns include a list of stitches the designer used and their abbreviations. I’ve always said reading patterns is like deciphering a secret code, this is your key. If there is a stitch you aren’t familiar with and there isn’t any explanation for it, do a quick search and see if you can find a tutorial on google or you-tube before you get started on the pattern. Bookmark or write down the instructions in case you need to find them later.
-read the notes section
This is where designers typically write tips and tricks for making the pattern work. Here is where you’ll find out if the turning chains count as a stitch or if you’re working in joined or continuous rounds as well as other helpful hints for being successful at making the pattern. Always read the notes.
-keep this crochet pattern helper handy
I have a handy printable crochet pattern helper at the bottom of this post. Print it out and keep it by your side when you’re crocheting! It has all the information you need to crack that crochet pattern code.
To get access all you need to do is sign up for my email list below and I’ll send you the password.
-ask the designer!
When in doubt, ask the designer! I would bet 99.9% of the time they would be willing to offer you a little guidance to get you unstuck. Us designers are just like you and we want you to be successful in making our patterns.
Writing easy to read crochet patterns is something we take very seriously. Just the other day in a designer group I’m in there was a discussion about using the terminology: crochet over a chain or crochet around the chain. And another about the correct or most easy-to-understand abbreviation (because sometimes there’s more than one!).
-consult with a crochet group on FB
Another great place to get pattern help is from a crochet group on Facebook, like mine!! Just pop in and ask your question. There is always someone willing and ready to help out. Just don’t share a picture of the entire pattern because that is a copyright infringement. Instead, you can type out the specific part of the pattern you’re having trouble figuring out in your question.;”>
-Break up the pattern
Sometimes it is hard to visualize what you need to do for the pattern when it’s an exceptionally wordy one. What I like to do is take it one step at a time. I break it up at the commas. So if the pattern says:
Ch 1, Sc in same st as ch 1, skip next dc, *(sc, ch 1, dc) in ch-1 space, skip next sc and dc, repeat from * to last ch-1 space. (Sc, ch 1, dc) in last ch-1 space. Skip next dc. Sc in last. Turn,
I would break that up like this:
Ch 1 | Sc in same st as ch 1, skip next dc | *(sc, ch 1, dc) in ch-1 space | skip next sc and dc | repeat from * to last ch-1 space. | (Sc, ch 1, dc) in last ch-1 space. | Skip next dc. |Sc in last. |Turn,
This makes it more manageable and not so overwhelming. One of the ladies in my group does this and re-writes each little pattern step on its own separate line in a notebook, this makes it easy to cross them out after you do complete them too!
Parenthesis, Brackets, and Repeats
What always confused me when I was learning to read crochet patterns was figuring out what to do with the parenthesis, brackets, and repeats. Let me break it down:
- ( ) = do instructions inside of parenthesis all in the same stitch. ex: (sc, 2dc) in next st
- * = signals the start of a repeat ex: *sc in next, ch 1, skip 1 repeat from * across. This means after you do the first ‘sc, skip 1 and ch 1’ you go back to that first little star and do it all over again across the whole row. Across means the whole row. Around would mean the whole round. I’ve also seen it say ‘repeat from * x-amount of times similar to brackets below
- [ ] = do instructions inside brackets # of times indicated ex: [sk next st, 2sc in next dc] 4 times
Visualize your stitches
After you’ve broken it up, visualize the stitches you are about to make before you make them. This one takes a little imagination, but trust me. If your next direction says: 2 dc in next. You’re going to make 2 double crochets in the next stitch. Create that picture in your head and walk yourself through the steps.
Save this post on Pinterest!
-Practice Practice Practice
I really hope you’ve found this post helpful! Now I have some homework for you. Grab your hook, yarn, a pattern and practice, practice, practice. I wasn’t good at reading crochet patterns right away, heck I’m still not if it’s a big complicated project. It takes practice. I’ve got good news though, practicing is fun because it’s actually just crocheting. It can be hard at first, but you’ll get better at it. I promise.
I really hope you’ve enjoyed these tips for reading crochet patterns. Don’t forget to share this with your crochet buddies and save it for later on your crochet Pinterest boards!
Printable Crochet Cheat Sheet
Download your free printable crochet cheat sheet below.
To unlock this Exclusive Subscriber Content click the box below! Grow will pop up so you can subscribe to my Blog. All you need to do is enter your email and create a password. Every time you see these locked content pieces on my blog, just log in to your Grow account and it will open right up.
Keep this handy sheet by your side when you are working through a pattern.
Thanks for downloading this freebie. I hope you enjoy it.
Hello I tried to download it but i just get a gift tracker instead
Thanks for the heads up! It is fixed now.
Pamela Newman says
On patterns that I print, I color code the stitches with different colored markers; For example, CH 1 will be red. DC is blue. ETC. Visually, it helps me keep track of when to use each stitch. I hope this helps others.
That’s such a great idea!
Miss Daisy says
I’ve been doing what you suggested and if it’s complicated to me I write it out so I can cross off each step. I enjoyed your creations.
I recently had to do the hint on writing each part of a line of pattern on on separate lines on a piece of paper. It was a poorly written pattern with so many asterisks and bracket that it was majorly confusing.Many others also had problems. Designer was no help.She just referred us to her video which was no help as it didn’t shaw the part of the pattern that was giving all of us a problem
I always write out each segment of complex directions on a separate line in my pattern notebook. Breaking the pattern down is the best thing I ever figured out about crochet.
And there are videos on YouTube demonstrating every stitch and tip you can imagine! Much better than when i tried learning crochet from a book 50 years ago!
Have a blanket pattern named “august” cannot understand round
2 where it says hdc in same space as first hdc, Sc ln first hdc,sc in first
To form last ch l space
Carol Forbis says
Thank you for sharing this info. Hope those that find crocheting a bit daunting will find it helpful too. I did a CAL a couple of years ago I found on-line (a 20 square afghan w/ double squares in 2 diff colors) but didn’t get to do it along with anyone else so to get it better into my head I rewrote the entire pattern into my notebook I keep handy. Took me a couple of nights & 10 pages but it helped.
I’ve been breaking down long instructions in a notebook like you showed for a year or more. It makes the most complicated patterns doable.
Also, reading the designers notes on special stitches is a must! even if you think you know that stitch.
All of your tips are spot on!!
Thanks for the help. I had started doing some of the things suggested already and find them helpful.
You’re welcome Virginia!
Mahalo for the inspiring the artist in me to feel as important as the functional crochet inthusiest to emerge. Many hour of pleasure reading your posts and following your blog. I no longer feel guilty for my emense spending on yarn! Now retired and semi disabled I spend many hours creating just for fun and self satisfaction. Aloha e hui hou !