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How to Read Crochet Patterns - Part 2

Updated on January 24, 2012

How to Read Crochet Patterns - Part 2

This is the second part of how to read crochet patterns. In this article you will discover some of the common abbreviations that you might find in a beginner crochet pattern. In addition, you will discover the usage of parenthesis, brackets, asterisks and other symbols that you might encounter.

And I also thought it would be a good idea to explain what the pattern means when it says to work the next stitch into the next chain, space or loop.

If you havn’t already done so, and you are a new to reading crochet patterns, then you might also want to check out part 1 for other important information.

Stitches and Abbreviations

One of the most difficult things in learning to read crochet patterns is to learn the basic crochet stitches and their abbreviations. Once you are familiar with them, then rest will come easy.

Crochet abbreviations can vary slightly from pattern to pattern, but here are some common abbreviations of the basic stitches that you might see in a beginner crochet pattern.

Chain/Chains = Ch/Chs
Stitch/Stitches = St/Sts
Slip Stitch = Sl St
Single Crochet = Sc
Half Double Crochet = Hdc
Double Crochet = Dc
Triple Crochet = Tr
Decrease = Dec
Single Crochet 2 Together = Sc2tog
Double Crochet 2 Together = Dc2tog
Skip = Sk
Space = Sp
Repeat = Rep
F.O. = Fasten Off.

Any pattern that calls for more complicated stitches than these, should generally be avoided by beginners as it will only be frustrating.

If you are working from a pattern book, then it will contain the stitch instructions either at the front, or at the back of the book. Make sure to read those instructions over before you begin on the pattern.

And if you are working from a pattern that you found online, check the website for instructions. Most patterns will have a small section where the abbreviations are explained, and many websites will also have a chart explaining how to do the various stitches.

Bernat Satin Hooded Scarf - Free Crochet Pattern
Bernat Satin Hooded Scarf - Free Crochet Pattern | Source

Parenthesis ( ), Brackets [ ] and other Symbols

Parenthesis and brackets are commonly used to encase a specific stitch sequence that is worked into the next stitch, space or loop. You might see them used like this: (sc, ch 1, sc) into next st.

The brackets and parenthesis can also be used together like this: [(sc, ch 1, sc) into next 2 sts, sk next st, 2 sc into next st] 5 times. In this case, you simply work the stitch sequence given within [ ] 5 times before moving on to the next set of instructions.

In addition to parenthesis and brackets, you might also see other symbols that work in a similar fashion. If you come across a symbol that you have never seen before, just ignore it until the pattern provides instructions around it.

The asterisk is one of the common symbols that you will come across. It basically is used to mark the spot from which you will begin your next repeat of the pattern. It might say something like repeat from * to end of row/round. Or, repeat from * to * 3 more times.

The pattern might also say something like repeat from * around to last 2 sts ending at **. In this case, you simply continue to repeat all the instructions from the first * and ignore the ** until you come to the last 2 sts. You would then stop the pattern repeat at the ** and follow the instructions for the last 2 sts, which might be something like: sc into last 2 sts.

Chains, Stitches, Spaces and Loops

The pattern will always tell you where to work your next stitch, whether it be into a chain, a stitch, a space or a loop. Although it might not seem like there is a difference, it makes a huge difference as to where you insert the hook in order to make your stitch.

Stitch. When the pattern says to work the next stitch into a stitch, then you normally insert the hook underneath the top two loops of the indicated stitch.

Spaces. Sometimes the pattern will tell you to work a stitch or a series of stitches into a certain space. A space can mean the space underneath a chain or a series of chains, as well as the space between two stitches.

The pattern might say: work 5 dc into next ch-1 sp. This means that you work your stitches in the space underneath the chain.

The pattern might also say something like: Sk next st, 5 dc in sp before next st. In this case the space is between the two stitches.

Chains. When the pattern says to work the next stitch into the chain, then you should work the stitch directly into the chain and not into the space underneath.

You will soon find that it is much easier to insert the hook into the space below the chain, but in many cases, working directly into the chain can make the fabric look much more elegant.

Loops. In some cases the pattern might tell you work the stitch or a series of stitches into the next loop. A loop is generally made with a series of chains. To work into the loop, you simply go in underneath the chain or series of chains.

Front Loops and Back Loops. Sometimes the pattern might state to work in the front loops only, which means that you work the stitches into the loop closest to you. And if it says to work into the back loops only, then you work the stitches into the loop farthest away from you.

Hope these tips have helped you, and if you scroll down a bit you’ll find some great links to tons of free crochet patterns.


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    • Rhelena profile image

      Rhelena 3 years ago

      Dianne, I'm terribly sorry for not replying sooner. the half double crochet, chain 3, half double crochet is what make up the v-stitch. I think that's what you're asking, but let me know. Again, sorry for the delayed answer.

    • profile image

      Dianne 4 years ago

      V stitch half double crochet chain 3 half double crochet help

    • Rhelena profile image

      Rhelena 6 years ago

      Sara, thank you for the feedback, i always appreciate it. :)

    • Rhelena profile image

      Rhelena 6 years ago

      Lynn S. Murphy, Sorry to hear that you are having problems with the pattern, but I hope it all works out for you.

    • SaraDuggan profile image

      Sara Duggan 6 years ago from California

      As always you have written a very useful article for those who are new to crochet and even those who have been at it for awhile.

    • profile image

      Lynn S. Murphy 6 years ago

      Ah I'm so glad I hopped on to you. I'm doing a pattern out of a book I've ripped out 19034494748 times and started again. I missed a couple of little acronyms. Like SC that I skipped over. grrrrrrr.... and I have finally gotten passed the 3rd and 4th row several times - its crooked. Thanks for your clear explanation on brackets and parenths because now I'll be pulling it out for the 19034494749 time. lol!!! Actually, I have a deadline and I'm going back to the tried and true......bookmarked.

    • Rhelena profile image

      Rhelena 6 years ago

      PWalker, As always, Thank you for the feedback, and for the vote.

    • Rhelena profile image

      Rhelena 6 years ago

      DzyMsLizzy, I think every crocheter has that stage where they can't keep the stitches at the same gauge. But once you practice it more, you get the hang of it. And even if the squares aren't exactly the same size, yarn stretches, and so it can still work out. :) Thanks for stopping by!

    • profile image

      PWalker281 6 years ago

      Very clear explanation of the different kinds of instructions found in crochet patterns. Rated up and useful.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 6 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Oh, I can READ the things fine--I just can't make them work out. I guess the problem is having trouble keeping my stitches all the same size. As soon as I stray from a plain square or rectangle, I'm in trouble.

      Even granny squares--I have to make one great big one, because if I did individual ones, they'd each be a different size, and never match up. Besides, I'd never get around to sewing them all together. ;-)

      Voted up, interesting and useful, however--just becuase I'm a yarn-klutz doesn't mean everyone else is. ;-)


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