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Saturday, September 18, 2010

How To Read Crochet Patterns

So you know the crochet basics, and now you want to learn to read patterns. Reading patterns opens you up to a whole world of possibilities. There is nothing you can't crochet that you have a pattern for! Lots of people get tripped up reading patterns, with all their abbreviations and symbols. Fear not! I have made you a fast and easy guide to reading patterns. Just remember...practice makes perfect! You wont get it right away, but if you hang in there and keep trying, reading patterns will be a piece of cake! The whole world will be at the tip of your fingers! (or rather, the tip of your hook!)

Things to immediately look for on a pattern:

- the difficulty of the pattern. Patterns are usually rated Beginner, Easy, Intermediate, or Advanced. Picking a pattern that is too hard for you is just setting you up for frustration. Instead, choose a pattern that suits your skill level. Once you have mastered the art of crochet a bit more, challenge yourself with a higher level.

-yarn weight and hook size. Most patterns will specify what type of yarn you should use and what size hook. With some patterns, this doesnt matter, but with many it does, so pay close attention. Make sure you have the right kind of yarn and the right hook.  (Example: medium worsted yarn and hook size F 3.75)

-rows or rounds. Crochet patterns are almost always worked in either rows (back and forth) or rounds (around in a circle) and will usually specify at the beginning of the pattern. If a pattern is supposed to be worked in rounds, and you are working it in rows, it can get very confusing!

- special terms. Some crochet patterns will have special terms (which they will define for you) or may list any special stitches used in the pattern. This is very helpful, because then you can quickly see if the pattern is feasible or not. For example, if a pattern specifies that it uses front post double crochet, and I am unfamiliar with front post double crochet, I know to either choose another pattern or find a video tutorial that will show me how a front post double crochet works.

Translating patterns into plain English...

"Crochet language" may seem like jibberish to you, but its very easy to catch on once you get the hang of it. Patterns are written in abbreviations, and its good to know what the abbreviations mean. I made a basic list below, which you can refer to whenever you like. For now, here's an example.

A pattern worked in rows will list directions row by row, usually numbered. So the first row may look something like this.

Row 1: Ch 26. Dc in 4th ch from hook. *Dc in one, 2 dc in next. Repeat from * across. Ch 3, turn.

Translated into English, it looks like this:

Row 1: Chain 26. Make a double crochet in the 4th chain from the hook. *Make a double crochet in one chain, make two double crochets in the second chain. Repeat everything from * over and over until you get to the end. Chain 3, and turn.

See? Its not so bad. Lets try the next row.

Row 2: Dc 4, 2 dc in next 2, dc 4, 2 dc in next 2, dc 10, 2 dc in next 2, dc in 4, 2 dc in next 2, dc 5. Ch 3, turn.

Translated into English, it looks like this:

Row 2: Make 4 double crochet, make 2 double crochet in each of the next  2 double crochet, make four double crochet, make two double crochet in each of the next 2 double crochet, make 10 double crochet, make 2 double crochet in the next 2 double crochet, make 4 double crochet,  make 2 double crochet in each of the next 2 double crochet, make 5 double crochet. Chain 3 and turn.

See? Not so hard!

Here's a simpler one.

Row 7: Sc in each dc across. Ch 2, turn.

Translated into English, it looks like this:

Row 7: Make a single crochet in each double crochet until you get to the end. Chain 2 and turn.

Here are some important abbreviations to know:

ch- chain
sl st- slip stitch
sc- single crochet
dc- double crochet
tr- treble crochet
yo- yarn over
st- stitch
rep- repeat
RS- right side
WS- wrong side
rnd(s)- round(s)
sp- space
inc- increase
dec- decrease
ch sp- chain space
beg- beginning

Learning to read crochet patterns is like learning any other language: the more you are exposed to it, the faster you catch on! It may be a bit tricky or confusing at first, but you will soon get the hang of it! And remember, if you have any questions, please comment!


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