The most daunting aspect of learning to crochet? Learning how to read a crochet pattern. Seriously, they want me to ch-31, hdc in 2nd ch from hk, *sk 2 sts, hdc in next* to end?
I promise that once you get the hang of discerning what the heck they are telling you, your enjoyment in crochet will only increase, as well as your stitch count. See what I did there? The more you understand, the less frustrated you get and the faster you can crank out those projects, the more rewarding crocheting is. For me at least. All the pretty things!
Its so relaxing (and cheaper than therapy)!
How to Read a Crochet Pattern
First, you’ll need to know your stitches. I have created a super duper fancy crochet term chart that you can save to your phone for easy reference. Not sure what that abbreviation is? Check the chart! I only use a handful of these regularly, but they are good to know and essential tool for becoming a master.
*to save to your phone touch and hold the photo below.
Note that these are in US terms. UK terms are slightly different, for example in UK terms you are told to “miss” a stitch instead of “skipping” a stitch as we do here in the US. These terms are something to pay particular attention to when purchasing a crochet pattern or even before printing a free pattern.
Crochet patterns will either be written in rows (for flat projects like this beginner level dish cloth) or rounds (for hats like this one or coasters, amigurumi etc). Many crochet patterns are rated on level of difficulty. Most of the crochet patterns here on Heart Hook Home are beginner to intermediate, with only one (the Joker Amigurimi) begin difficult or advanced.
What to see our free patterns? We’ve got a bunch right over here.
No matter what you’re crocheting or how large your project is, it is very important to count your stitches at the end of every row/round. Most patterns will tell you how many stitches you should have at the end of each round. If included they will be in the parenthesis at the end of the row.
If you miss a stitch or accidentally do two in one stitch where there should have been only one, your project may start to look wonky. Crochet once and count twice, I always say. Remember that anything between two asterisks means that that particular portion will be repeated until they tell you to stop.
Ready to try? I have included a portion my free pattern, the Hair Towel with a Twist:
Row 1: Ch-10, hdc in 2nd ch from hook and in each across. Ch-1, turn (9)
Written in plain English this means that we will chain 10 chain stitches. We will then half double crochet in the second chain from the hook (not including the one ON the hook) and then half double crochet in each stitch until you reach the end. Then you’ll chain one stitch to start the next row and turn your work.
Another example of row work from our Seatbelt Cover free pattern:
Row 1: Ch-16, hdc in second st and in each st across, ch-1 and turn (15)
Rows 2-20: hdc in blo of each st across, ch-1 and turn (15)
Written in plain English this means that for row 1, we will chain until we have 16 chain stitches. We will make a half double crochet in the second chain from the hook (not including the one ON the hook) and in each chain to the end. Then we will chain one stitch to start the next row and turn our work.
For rows 2 through 20, we will half double in the back loop only of each stitch across. When we reach the end we will chain one stitch and turn our work.
Let’s do another, with the asterisks detailing what we should be repeating. This example is from our free Market Bag pattern:
Leaving a long tail, ch-41. Sc in 2nd ch and in each across. (40 sts) – approx. 10” wide
Row 1: *sc in first st, dc in next* repeat to end. Ch-1 and turn (40 sts)
Written in plain English this means that we will leave a long piece of yarn before starting our chains. When we do start chaining, we will do forty-one of them. Then, we will single crochet in the second chain from the hook (not including the one ON the hook) and single crochet in each chain stitch across.
In row one, we are going to repeat everything inside the * * until we get to the end. So, we will single crochet in the first stitch, double crochet in the next. Single crochet in the next stitch, double crochet in the next. We will continue this single/double repeat alllll the way to the end of the row, where we will chain one and turn to start the next row.
I hope this helps you to learn how to read a pattern. Please know that no matter what the pattern or where you found it, I’ll always be willing to help you figure it out (provided of course that you’re not sharing a paid pattern written by someone other than myself!) and I will always do my best to make you a better crocheter. Simply leave a comment or shoot me an email and I’d be happy to help.
Did you also know that hook size and yarn size makes a huge difference in the way your item will turn out?
More crochet tips and yarn hacks:
Why Size Matters in Crocheting and Knitting
Crochet Video Tutorial: How to Crochet The Chain Stitch
How to Crochet The Single Crochet (Video Tutorial)
How to Crochet the Double Crochet (Video Tutorial)
Use Industrial Clips for Yarn Bobbins in Crochet and Knitting
How to Soften Economical or Scratchy Yarn
16 Ways to Save at Michaels