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Learn to Crochet, Lesson 3: Reading Patterns

Welcome back to the Learn to Crochet with Me series! This week we'll be talking about reading crochet patterns.


You may be thinking to yourself, "but I can already read patterns -- I knit!" This may be true, and you have a slight advantage from it, but crochet patterns and knitting patterns are two different animals, and reading one well doesn't mean you can automatically understand the other.


To get anywhere reading a crochet pattern, you need to understand the terms and abbreviations. There are lots of terms out there for various stitches and techniques, but we're going to focus on the basics for now. Later on, if you continue expanding your skills, you can brush up on any others you need.

Abbreviation Stitch
ch chain
sc single crochet
hdc half double crochet
dc double crochet
tr (or trc) triple (treble) crochet
sl st slip stitch

There are some terms you may be familiar with if you're already a knitter:

Term Meaning
inc increase
dec decrease
turn turn your piece around to work the other side
join join two stitches together, like when working in the round
rep repeat

(Abbreviations via the Craft Yarn Council)

So, for example, if a pattern says "ch 4, sc into 2nd ch, sc across, turn" you would first chain 4. Then, you would single crochet into the second chain, single crochet across the row, and turn your work.

Crochet patterns may seem confusing at first, but once you sit down and work through them, they'll become much clearer. Just keep practicing!

Reading Charts

Crochet charts are fairly different from knitting charts, so if you're used to those, this might seem hard, but I promise it's not!

Knitting charts are generally laid out like a grid, with one stitch on top of the other, because that's the way knitted fabric is constructed. But with crochet, there's a bit more freedom with shape, and the charts often reflect that.


In general, there will be a symbol for each stitch used -- likely using the symbols above -- and it will be drawn in a way that shows you into where you will work it. You may not be working into the stitch directly below.

Take, for example, the stitch chart for the Level 3 Ripple Cowl, which we will be making later in this series.

As you can see, to create the ripple effect, you are working increases and decreases. That means that there are sometimes multiple stitches worked into one. There are also stitches that gather together more than one from the row below. The way stitches branch out in the chart indicates those instances.

This chart, for the Level 2 Striped Hat (our next project) is a bit more straightforward. Since this is worked in a simple back and forth pattern, the stitches all line up. There are even arrows indicating the direction you work! that's not standard on all patterns, though.

Did looking at these help or confuse you more? If it's the latter, don't worry. I still think some crochet charts look like some sort of recipe for witchcraft, or ancient runes or something. You just have to sit down and work your way through them to get the hang of it. I know I keep saying it, but it's the truth.

Up Next

Next week we will be making the Level 2 Striped Hat. That calls for two skeins of Heartland® (one each of two colors) and a J-10 hook. Now, I used Jeans® for my hat, but since that yarn is backordered right now, stick with Heartland®.

Note: our next project after the hat will be the Three Color Tonal Cowl, using Wool-Ease® Tonal. Even though it will be a couple of weeks before we get to that, I recommend getting your yarn now, because Tonal is currently 20% off as part of our Category 5, 6, and 7 sale. You need three skeins -- one each in three different colors.

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  • Linlal

    What is a J-10 hook in metric?

  • Eliza Prokopovits

    I've been a knitter forever, and I've crocheted on and off for years, but I've never gotten the hang of reading crochet charts. Thanks for this great tutorial - I need to bookmark this page for future use!