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Crochet Pattern Instructions

Crochet pattern instructions include everything you will need to create the crochet design, including the type and quantity of crochet thread, hook size, gauge and complete row-by-row instructions.

There are a large variety of crochet patterns available. A good place to start is the Inspiration section on this web site. Other places include your local craft store, bookstores, and needlework catalogs which will have crochet leaflets, books, and magazines.

Getting Ready

Find Projects by Your Skill Levels

Beginner Level

Projects for first-time crocheters generally use only one or two basic stitches. They use thick threads and large hooks that are easier to work with, rather than fine threads and small hooks. Garments in this category are simple shapes. A simple one-color scarf that uses a size 3 crochet thread would be a good beginner project.

Easy Level

These projects often use two or more colors and may call for a finer thread and smaller hook than beginner projects. Easy level projects can use the same thread and hook as a beginner project, but may include a series of moderately complicated stitches. They may also take more time to complete than beginner projects. A good project in this skill level would be a multi-color striped scarf using size 10 thread.

Intermediate Level

These projects require more crochet experience than easy projects and use a variety of techniques and more complicated stitch patterns. Intermediate projects often have more color changes than easy projects, but their degree of difficulty generally depends on how difficult the stitch patterns are. Once again, the patterns can call for threads and hooks of all sizes. Garments need shaping and may call for buttonholes and other details not found in easy projects. A good project for this level would be a cardigan sweater with a V-neck that uses 3 or more stitches with bust shaping, buttonholes and a picot edging.

Experienced Level

These projects have intricate stitch patterns, techniques and dimension such as non-repeating patterns and multi-color techniques. They call for fine threads and small hooks. Garments generally have more increases and decreases in stitch counts to produce detailed shaping. They generally have detailed finishing stitches. A project for this level would be a form-fitting, lacy sweater that uses a lacy stitch pattern, size 20 thread and has buttonholes and inset pockets.

Understanding Crochet Patterns

Abbreviations and symbols

In the U.S., the instructions are written row by row or round by round with the help of abbreviations, symbols and terms. Instructions in other countries usually use charts and symbols rather than row- by-row written instructions.

Most crochet instructions are written using a standard set of abbreviations and symbols. DMC recommends downloading the PDF of this abbreviation list and mounting it on a card to keep handy while you work.

Pattern instructions in the form of charts and symbols are universal and simple and easy to read. Below is a sample chart with symbols and a basic explanation on how to read it.



Holding a Crochet Hook


There are two ways to hold the hook.

A. Hold the hook between your index finger and thumb the way you hold  pencil. This method, which uses your wrist, is most often used when working with thread of light-weight yarns.

B. Hold the hook between your index finger and thumb the way you hold a knife to spread butter or cut meat. This method, which uses your shoulder muscles, is most often used when working with yarn.

Note: Whether you are crocheting with thread of yarn, use the method which is the most comfortable for you. There are no hard and fast rules about which method is correct.

Starting Your Crochet Project


  • Select a crochet design of your choice. Read the instructions carefully to make sure it is in your skill level and that you have the crochet thread and hook called for in the instructions. If you do not want to use the yarn or thread called for, you may substitute a yarn or thread that is the same weight and will produce the same gauge.
  • To begin, create a swatch to make sure your gauge is correct.
  • Chain your foundation row a little looser than the gauge so the bottom of your project will not pucker or pull inward.
  • Carefully follow the written instructions or chart for creating the design.
  • Sooner or later you are going to run out of yarn or thread. It's best to join the new thread at the end of a row for a neater appearance. When you're about to run out of thread, work your last stitch until there are 2 loops left on your hook. Leaving a tail, draw the end of the new yarn through the 2 loops on your hook. Then continue working with the new ball of yarn. With a large-eyed needle, weave in the tails of both balls of yarn to secure. This method is also used when joining a new color of yarn.
  • With the abbreviations terms at hand, let’s look at a typical pattern. A pattern may be worked in rows (that is, back and forth to form a flat piece such as an afghan) or in rounds (worked around to form a tube with no seams, such as a hat).
  • Whatever way the pattern is to be worked, the very first thing you must do is make a slip knot on your hook. Usually the pattern does not tell you to do this but it is always assumed that every project is started with a slip knot. See below for how to create a slip knot  in 3 easy steps.


Slip Knot

Step 1

To begin, slide the hook into the knot, pull the two ends of thread to tighten the knot and form a loop.

Step 2 Holding the Thread

Hold the hook (which has been placed through the slip knot) in your right hand. Hold the bottom of the knot with your left thumb and index finger.

Hold the thread in your left hand so that it runs over the index finger, under the middle finger, over the ring finger and under the pinkie finger. Use the thread between the thumb and index finger to make the crochet stitches.

Step 3 Yarn Over

Refers to catching the thread in the groove of the hook by bringing the thread over the top of the hook from back to front.

Note: All the illustrations shown are for a right-handed crocheter.