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How to Read Crochet Patterns

By: Jane Pullen - Updated: 4 Oct 2015 | comments*Discuss
Crochet Patterns Hook Pattern Yarn

Crochet patterns can sometimes look extremely complex. At first glance someone who is new to crochet may just see a page full of numbers and symbols and wonder how to make sense of it all. It is actually very straight forward. The best way to approach a crochet pattern is to break it down section by section.

Introduction And Special Instructions

The introduction to the crochet pattern offers more information than simply describing the item. It will also explain how the item is constructed, detail any special skills required and highlight any unusual features of the project. It is always a good idea to read this part thoroughly before embarking on the project. A pattern to make a crochet bag, for instance, might require sewing a lining to fit in the bag. This pattern, therefore, would not be suitable for someone who doesn't sew. Finding points such as these out early on can eliminate any disappointment later.


The materials section will outline the quantity of wool or yarn required, this will also state the yarn weight. Many modern crochet patterns will state the brand and manufacturer of yarn. Sometimes this might be for a hard to find or very expensive yarn, therefore the weight of the yarn should be used if a yarn is to be substituted. Any notions (for instance buttons or buckles) should also be detailed in this section.

Crochet Hook Size

The hook size stated should always be regarded as a guide. Some people crochet more tightly than others and therefore a crochet hook that is one size bigger or smaller may be required to obtain the correct tension.

Crochet Gauge

The pattern will state the crochet gauge. This is the number of stitches and rows per 10cms. Before starting a project a tension square should be crocheted so the gauge can be measured and any adjustments in hook size made.


Patterns, particularly those that are for garments, are given in multiple sizes. The sizes of the finished item should be clearly stated and this should measure all of the important points.

In the body of the pattern, the smallest size is given first with subsequent sizes given in brackets. This can sometimes make a pattern look confusing and can be difficult for crocheters to follow. Marking the correct size throughout the pattern using a highlighter pen will ensure that the correct size is always followed.


Patterns for garments often include schematics which are diagrammatic plans of the different sections. This is a valuable tool for crocheters and can often help someone to visualize how a garment is constructed.

Reading The Pattern

Crochet patterns often include a lot of repetition. A stitch pattern, for instance, may be made up using a variety of stitches and repeated a given number of times. This will be presented by placing the stitch pattern in brackets, for instance [2 dc, yo, 2dc] 13 times. It is useful to read through a pattern first and ensure that the terms and abbreviations are familiar. Marking any unusual abbreviations on the pattern can also help to make a project easier to understand.

Finishing Instructions

It can be very tempting to skip over the finishing instruction! After several hours of crochet many people are eager to see their work in its full glory and not read about how to finish it. The finishing instructions are often invaluable, however, and will include information about how to make the item look its best. This might include blocking the crochet so that the stitches are set in position or useful tips for seamless joins.

A large or complex crochet pattern can look very daunting to a beginner, however breaking the pattern down and working it through line by line can make even the most complicated pattern easily accessible.

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Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Jeannie - Your Question:
I have been crocheting for sixty years and have found a pattern that is driving me crazy.The directions are written like this: 3x(Inc,4sc) 18 stitches in row. What am I missing?

Our Response:
Not sure really ...does it simply mean increase 4 single crochet stitches 3 times. Ending up that you have 18 stitches in a row? (This assumes you already have 6 stitches). Do any of our readers agree? Can anyone else elaborate?
CraftExpert - 7-Oct-15 @ 12:48 PM
I have been crocheting for sixty years and have found a pattern that is driving me crazy.The directions are written like this: 3x(Inc,4sc) 18 stitches in row. What am I missing?
Jeannie - 4-Oct-15 @ 1:51 AM
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