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Tips for Reading a Pattern

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Tips for Reading a Pattern

For both crocheters and knitters, learning to read a pattern can be like learning a different language. However, if you take things step-by-step, reading a pattern can be easy. For this example,Ruffle Colors Scarf follow along with the Ruffle Colors Scarf.

1. Read the gauge information. Click here for more information on making a gauge swatch.

2. Write out what every abbreviation means. Stitch explanations can be found in the “Stitch Explanation” section above the main body of the pattern and in the “Abbreviations/References” section at the bottom of the pattern. For example, the Ruffle Color Scarf begins, “Ch 177. Row 1: Work 2 dc in 3rd ch from hook and in each ch across” In this case, you would write, “Chain 177. Row 1: Work 2 double crochets into the 3rd chain from your crochet hook. Work 2 double crochets in every chain across the row.”

3. Focus on one stitch at a time. It’s easy to read the entire row and get a little overwhelmed. Doing each stitch individually allows you to stay focused and makes each row a lot more manageable.

4. Write out the repeats. Many patterns include repeats. For example, Row 3 says, “Ch 3, turn, dc in same sp, dc in next st, *2 dc in next st, dc in next st; rep from * across.” In this case, it may be beneficial to write out, “Double crochet twice in the next stitch. Double crochet in the next stitch. Double crochet twice in the next stitch. Double crochet in the next stitch.” This is especially helpful when the pattern repeat includes 3 or more stitches.

With those 4 easy steps, you can be on your way to reading patterns!

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  • I have just discovered a trick with patterns that can be downloaded to the computer: Select that portion of the pattern you’re working, copy and paste to a word processing program, enlarge the font and increase spacing between paragraphs. Bold text any names of sections. Separate and distinguish any text that makes it easier for you to glance and pick up.

    Then print just that portion of the pattern and mark it up with a pencil as you go along.

    When done, go on to the next section. Makes it much easier on the eyes and easy to track.

    Judith Lasker

  • When working multiple patterns of varying # of rows in each pattern (such as a fisherman knit), I make out 3×5 cards. One set for each pattern, one card for each row.

    As I complete a row, I move that card to the back so the top card is the next row to be worked.

    Then I always know where I am the next time I pick it up to work on it.

  • Any tips for counting crochet stitches? I can never tell which part of is the top of each stitch since the tops are to the right and left of the posts. It gets so confusing!

  • If it is a repeating pattern often I will cut and paste into an excel spreadsheet and mark off the row numbers as I go. I love the comment another shared about enlarging the font…I will have to try that for my Mom and Gma as that is one of their ‘comments’ about how patterns have changed.

  • I really liked the idea about loading the pattern on to my computer to increase the font size. It is getting so much harder for me to read these patterns, my eyes just aren’t what they used to be. Now to get my son to show me how to load this on a computer!

    Zontee says: Hi Kelly, and don’t forget that you can go to the bottom-right corner of and you’ll see that there are small/medium/large As — click on those to adjust the size of the font on our website. If you’re logged in, the site will even save your preference!

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