How to read a crochet pattern

Want to crochet an unusual little project for yourself, but when you’re looking at the written description you give up on this idea because of incomprehensible symbols, abbreviations, and words? Then you’re in the right place. On MyCrochetPattern, you can find an easy to understand training on how to read a crochet pattern.

Learning the basics of crocheting begins with learning crochet terms and basic crochet stitches. Following our tutorials one by one you will quickly master the basics of crocheting and learn to read crochet patterns and crochet diagram.

You can download printable instruction for this lesson in PDF format for free at the end of the page.

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Understanding the Stitch Symbols

Crochet symbols are crochet stitches drawn by hand; they are usually indicated in the pattern diagram for crocheting and make a pattern when performing them in the specified sequence. It is very important to understand all the symbols indicated in the pattern you choose. But if some names seem completely incomprehensible to you and searching for it on the Internet did not lead to the desired result, you can check our page for beginners, which contains a huge database of written and video crocheting lessons for beginners.

For your convenience, at mycrochetpattern you can find the biggest infographic of crochet symbols, abbreviations, and terms.

Guide to crochet symbols

Each crochet symbol in conjunction with other symbols makes a specific crochet stitch. Therefore, do not skip a single stitch, otherwise, it might happen that you won’t get the desired pattern.


Each crochet pattern has such a designation as difficulty. It indicates the level of complexity of the pattern. There are several levels of difficulty:

  • Beginner
  • Easy
  • Intermediate or advanced
  • Experience

This does not mean at all that if you choose a complex pattern, you cannot recreate it. Following our lessons, even a beginner can make patterns of any complexity.

But we still recommend that you learn patterns step by step, starting with the beginner level and ending with the experience level.

Materials & Tools

The second note on the pattern page contains a list of required materials and tools. This usually includes the type of yarn, hook size, scissors, tapestry needle, stitch marker if required, and so on.

Crocheting materials have their main characteristics, so on the yarn, in addition to the brand, other parameters are also indicated in the diagram: weight, length, size. This is done for you to find the right yarn even by another manufacturer and, as a result, get a similar item.

The hook size is specified according to the yarn used. If you use a different yarn in terms of parameters and composition, you’ll need to choose the size of the hook. Typically, each yarn brand indicates the recommended hook labels.

Tools are add-ons that can make crocheting easier and more enjoyable. So, for example, to create a pom-pom, there is a special device that allows you to create an even, beautiful pom-pom in a few minutes.


Gauge is a small crocheted pattern (usually the one crocheted within 1-2 repeats). It’s used to check if you have chosen the right crochet and yarn. In crochet charts, Gauge refers to how many rows and stitches need to be knitted to obtain the specified size.

Crochet a tiny piece of the pattern and look at the sizes indicated in the diagram: if they are larger, take a smaller hook, if they are smaller, take a larger hook.

Alternatively, you can also wash and iron the sample. This will give you an idea of how the finished item will react to that and what you need to pay attention to.


Each diagram contains information about the size of the finished items. For example, you can find several sizes when it comes to clothes. This was created for you to easily crochet a garment of the pattern you need, without figuring out and modeling everything yourself.

As a rule, such sizes are indicated with / or in brackets (). So, in order not to get confused and to crochet exactly the garment of the size you need, we recommend that you print out the crocheting description and make a selection of sizes with a marker. So following them you will never make a mistake when crocheting.

What stitches are used

All crochet patterns contain specific sets of stitches. Before starting crocheting, make sure you are familiar with all of those you see. If one of them seems unfamiliar to you and you find it difficult to complete it – check out our tutorials for beginners.

Having learned and practiced doing all the stitches necessary for crocheting, you can proceed to the next stage.

What motifs and techniques are used

All patterns are divided into certain types by techniques, depending on which there are peculiarities of making them. For example, in the filet technique, only chain and double crochet stitches are used. Openwork, on the contrary, contains a huge base of various stitches, from FPsc to Solomon’s and even back loop only.

You can get familiar with all the techniques on the page Crochet Techniques

Pattern Instructions

The largest and most voluminous part is exactly the written pattern instruction, which shows you the step-by-step work process. Depending on the pattern of the crocheted item, it can be divided into several sub-pieces, which at the end will need to be joined together. These can be separate motifs, which will result in plaid, or openwork patterns, which will become an elegant dress. In any case, before you start crocheting, you’ll need to study all the stages of work in detail. In addition, here you will find those abbreviations and terms without decoding, which were indicated at the beginning of the written pattern. If you have forgotten or doubted an abbreviation – look at the beginning of the sheet that contains the pattern.

Round vs. Row

Crochet patterns are worked in either rows or rounds. Each pattern will specify whether you are working in rows, rounds, or a combination of both. The main differences between crocheting in rows or rounds are as follows: for round crochet – crocheting is performed in a circle finishing a row with a slip stitch. In the case of row crochet – crocheting is performed in a straight line, turning over after the end of the row.

The correct determination of the crocheting progress is the key to a successful pattern completion!

Starting the Pattern

Whether you’re crocheting in the round or in rows, you will have to start with a slip knot. The pattern doesn’t always tell you this because it assumes you know. The only exception is when you’re creating a magic circle.

Here is how to make a slip knot –

For the convenience of users, sometimes the instruction contains an indication of the pattern repeat – a basic element that indicates a part of the pattern that can be repeated many times while expanding the project.

As a rule, each crocheted project begins with a series of chain stitches, which is designated as the Foundation chain

Example: Foundation chain: multiples of 8+1


Foundation chain: 17

In the first case, multiples mean a pattern of 8 loops, i.e. through how many loops the pattern can be repeated. This is done for you to be able to resize the pattern to your desired size. Those. in order to crochet multiple repetitions, i.e. repeats, you need to add 8 the required number of times: 8 + 8 + 8 + … and add 1 loop at the end.

In the second case, it is said that to complete this pattern, you need to make a chain of 17 loops.

Make a slip knot on your hook (remember that the patterns never tell you to do that), then make 17 or multiples of 8+1 chain stitches and be sure to make them loosely. Count these chains very carefully, and do not count the slip knot as a stitch. The loop on the hook is never counted as a stitch.

Now you have a foundation chain and you need to see further what the pattern says:

Row 1: 1 ch, sc in 2nd ch and in each ch across, turn.

That means that you do one chain stitch, count the first chain away from the hook, which you will skip, then work a single crochet in the 2nd chain away from the hook and in each of the remaining (abbreviated rem) 16 chains. You have now completed Row 1.

Count your stitches carefully, but do not count the loop (abbreviated lp) on the hook, or the slip knot, which is now at the end of the row. You should have 17 single crochet stitches.

Hint: Count the stitches at the end of every row. Most patterns tell you how many stitches you should have, and there are several ways of doing this.

17 sc.
(17 sc).
—17 sc.

These are all ways to show the number of stitches you should have. Don’t confuse this with an instruction to do something.

Now you have worked Row 1. Look at your pattern: at the end of the row it may say turn” That means it is time to turn the work so you can make another row of stitches.

Hint: Always leave the hook in your work as you turn.

Now you are ready to start Row 2.

But some patterns don’t tell you to turn, ch 1, at the end of the row. They put that in the instructions for the next row,

So the pattern could be written in two different ways:

Row 1: 1 ch, sc in 2nd ch and in each ch across, turn.

Row 2: 1 ch, *3 sc in 3 sc, 1 ch, skip 1 sc, 1 dc in sc, 1 ch, 1 dc in same sc, 1 ch, 1 dc in same sc, 1 ch, skip 1 sc, 2 sc in 2 sc, rep from * to the end, 1 sc in 1 sc, turn.


Row 1: 1 ch, sc in 2nd ch and in each ch across.

Row 2: turn, 1 ch, *3 sc in 3 sc, 1 ch, skip 1 sc, 1 dc in sc, 1 ch, 1 dc in same sc, 1 ch, 1 dc in same sc, 1 ch, skip 1 sc, 2 sc in 2 sc, rep from * to the end, 1 sc in 1 sc.

It really doesn’t matter whether you work the ch 1, turn, at the end of the first row, or at the beginning of the next row. Just do it the way the pattern tells you to.

Working in Double Crochet

When doing double crochet or taller stitches, you should know a few things about these stitches:

  • turning chains count as a dc
  • at the beginning of the row when doing starting or turning chains you should skip the first stitch of the bottom row

For example, let’s make the first row of double crochet.

The pattern says: Ch 13.

Row 1: Dc in 4th ch from hook and in chain across: 10 dc.

So you will make a slip knot on the hook, then make 13 chain stitches.

Now count 4 chains away from the hook, and work a double crochet into that chain, skipping the first 3 chains. Then work a double crochet in each of the remaining 8 chains. You now have 10 double crochet stitches.

How can that be when you have only worked 10 double crochets? Remember those first 3 chains you skipped when you worked the first double crochet into the 4th chain from the hook? Those 3 skipped chains count as first double crochet of the row, and on following rows you will work into the top chain of those 3 chains just as though they were a regular dc stitch.

At the end of this row, or the beginning of the next, the pattern will tell you how many chain stitches you need to raise the yarn to the height of the stitches for the next row. For single crochet, that was one ch, and that chain did not count as a stitch.

But for double crochet, a taller stitch, you need to make 3 chains and then turn.And this time the 3 chains count as a stitch. So on the next row, you assume that the chain 3 counts as the first dc, and you will work into the next stitch, not the first stitch.

Parentheses, Asterisks, and Brackets

In addition to all the abbreviations in the written patterns, you will also find previously unfamiliar symbols – * or [] or (), which also explain to you what needs to be done in a crocheted row.

  • Asterisks (*) are used to indicate the repeats. For example: Row 2: 4 ch, 1 sc in arch, *2 ch, picot, 2 ch, 1 sc in arch, rep from * to the end, 1 ch, 1 dc in sc. That means that the steps following the asterisk are to be repeated, in order, until you reach the end of the row.
  • Brackets [ ] also are used to tell you how many times to work a certain step. The number immediately following the brackets tells you how many times to do the step. For example: Row 2: Dc in next 2 dc, ch 1, [skip next dc, popcorn in next dc] 6 times, ch 1, dc in next 2 dc. That means you will work the [skip next dc, popcorn in next dc] 6 times before going on to work the ch 1, dc in next 2 dc.
  • Parentheses are used to indicate a group of stitches that are to be worked together into a stitch. For example: in next dc work (3 hdc, ch 3, 3 hdc). That means you will work all of those stitches in one dc, which makes a shell.

These terms help to shorten the description of the crocheted pattern several times without making it very cumbersome and difficult to understand.

Working in Spaces

There are one instruction beginners are easily confused with; we’re talking about “work a puff in the next ch space” (or “in the next arch”) instruction. To make a chain space, do a chain stitch, skip one stitch, and afterward, proceed to the next one.

The skipped stitch space (the one under the chain) is exactly where you will need to make the shell. Spaces can consist of one or more chains; if we’re talking about 3 or more chains, such spaces are often referred to as loops (lps).

Working in the Round

A lot of projects created by crocheters, for example, granny squares, imply working in rounds. According to the pattern, you should follow such steps

Ch: 6, join with a slip stitch in order to create a ring.

In order to do this, a slip knot on the hook should be made, as always; then, proceed to make 6 chs, then put your hook into the 1st chain, draw your yarn through it, and then, through the loop on the hook. As a result, you will have a tiny ring or circle. Now, you can work stitches into it.

Front or Back Loop

Most crochet projects are made with both loops of the bottom row. However, there are also those that are made only with the front loop or only with the back loop. In order to crochet correctly, you should remember that:

  • the front loop is the loop closest to you
  • the back loop is the loop farthest away from you

At our site, there are lessons on how to perform the back loop:

Working Garments

If you’re planning to create crochet clothing, we recommend that you familiarize yourself with some relevant terms used when making garments:

  • Right sleeve, right front, right shoulder: all of them actually mean body parts which the respective piece will cover – the right arm, etc. The same goes for left sleeve, left front, left shoulder.
  • Wrong side, right side: Let’s say you need to work with the wrong (or right) side of the piece facing you. The right side of an item is the side that will be seen when somebody wears it.
  • Left-hand or Right-hand Corner: You may be told to join pieces of your project in a particular corner. It means that you should join it the corner of the piece which is closest to your left (or right) hand. At the same time: This means you need to work 2 different steps (to shape the neckline and the armhole, for instance) simultaneously.
  • Work same as Right (or Left) piece, reversing shaping: This can be pretty hard for beginners. For instance, several decreases on the right sleeve have been made. Instead of instructions on how to do this for the left sleeve, but the other way around, the pattern says: same as the right sleeve, reversing shaping. Meaning you will have to figure out yourself what to do exactly. If you outline on a piece of paper what you did at the beginning, and then work with the other piece the same way but in reverse, it might work for you.

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If you have any questions regarding how to crochet, how to use hooks or how to open a pdf scheme and how to read it – ask them in the comments or send me a quote via contact form. I’ll do my best to help you out.

If you wish to use this pattern in any way please contact the author of the scheme mentioned in this article.

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