Reading a Crochet Pattern

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.

Reading Written Pattern Instructions

Reading written pattern instructions is relatively easy once you get used to the abbreviations, symbols and terms. Listed below are a sample instructions and their explanation given in italics.

  • Edging instructions written with abbreviations
    Ch a multiple of 6 + 2 for each inch of edging needed.
    Row 1: Sc in 2nd ch from hook and in ea ch across, ch1, turn.
  • Interpreting the instructions
    You will be making 6 heart motifs. Make 6 chain stitches per heart motif for a total of 36 chains plus 2 additional chains for a grand total of 38 chains.
    • Row 1: Insert your hook into the 2nd chain and make a single crochet stitch. (Tip: Do NOT count the loop on the hook as it is a part of the 2nd chain stitch). When the single crochet is complete, put your hook in the next stitch and make another single crochet stitch. Continue to single crochet in each stitch across the row. At the end the hook will be at the right end of row.

Reading a Crochet Chart

With a little practice, a crochet chart is easy to read and follow. Once the symbols are familiar to you, you can see the entire patterns at a glance. No more losing your place in lengthy row-by-row written instructions.

  • This chart is very clear, because it's easy to see that the pattern is a heart with a ruffled border around it.
  • For this Heart Border, read the chart from the solid black triangle at the bottom point of the heart up to the top.
  • To the right of the black triangle, which is the starting point, there are 3 blank circles. Each one represents a chain stitch. These 3 chains are the foundation row.
  • The first row includes 3 capital Ts. Each capital T represents a half double crochet stitch that is to be made in each one of the 3 chains in the foundation row.
  • The second row shows 2 capital Ts coming out of each half double crochet stitch (or capital T) in the first row. Therefore, make two half double crochet stitches in each one of the half double crochet stitches in the first row. There are now 6 double half crochet stitches in the second row.
  • Continue to read the chart to the top of the heart. Then add the border by following the chain and double treble crochet symbols that surround the heart.

Working Garments

If you are making a garment, you need to know some special terms.

  • Right front, right sleeve, right shoulder: These all refer to the actual body part on which the piece will be worn – the right arm, etc. The same applies to left front, left sleeve, left shoulder.
  • Right side, wrong side: You may be told to work with the right (or wrong) side of the piece facing you. The right side of a garment is the side that will be seen when it is worn.
  • Right-hand or Left-hand Corner: You may be asked to join yarn in a specific corner. This means the corner of the piece nearest your right (or your left) hand.
  • At the same time: This is used when you are asked to work two different steps (perhaps shaping at the armhole and at the neck) at the same time.

DMC Crochet Glossary of Terms

There are several terms used in crochet instructions which are listed below:

Back loop/ Front loop — Back loop refers to the loop of the stitch you are to work in farthest away from you; front loop is the loop closest to you.

Continue in Pattern as Established — Usually refers to a pattern stitch and means to continue working the pattern in the same way you were up to this point, and working any increases or decreases in such a manner that the stitch pattern remains the same.

Gauge — Refers to the number of stitches and rows you need to have per inch in order for your project to turn out the same size as the pattern. It is usually given in a 4” range, and the pattern will tell you which stitch is being counted.

Join — Refers to the slip stitch used to join two stitches as indicated in the pattern.

Left Front — Refers to the part of the garments that will be worn on the left side.

Left-Hand Side — Refers to the side nearest your left hand as you are working.

Multiple — Stitch multiple usually refers to the number of stitch required for a specific pattern repeat. For example, if you were stitching a row of pattern repeats which took six stitches each, your pattern would note you were working in a multiple of 6. When starting a project, you will often see a line like “Ch a multiple of 6 + 2”. You almost have more chains in your foundation than stitches in the first row because of a beginning or ending stitch, or a turning chain being needed. In the example above, if I wanted ten repeats of the stitch, I would chain 62, or 10 x 6 = 60 + 2= 62.

Post — Refers to the vertical part of a completed stitch.

Right Front — Refers to the part of a garment that will be worn on the right side.

Right Side — Refers to the side of the crochet piece that will be displayed.

Right-Hand Side — Refers to the side nearest your right hand as you are working.

Turn — Refers to turning the crochet piece over to the reverse side to begin a new row.

Work Even — Refers to working in the same fashion without increasing or decreasing.

Wrong Side — Refers to the side of the crochet piece which will be hidden.