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Understanding Crochet Terms

By: Jane Pullen - Updated: 7 Aug 2013 | comments*Discuss
Slip Knot Symbol Crochet Crochet Pattern

Crochet is actually a very straightforward craft to learn. Like many old and traditional crafts, however, over the years a range of different terms and descriptions have been formed that might seem like a foreign language to a beginner!

Here are some of the most common crochet terms that a beginner is likely to come across:


Most crocheted items benefit from being blocked and this is particularly true of lace items. Blocking a finished piece of crochet entails gently wetting the item and then pulling it to shape on a flat surface. The item may need to be pinned to stop it from springing out of shape. A crochet pattern will give any special instructions required for blocking.

Flat Or In The Round

Crochet is either worked flat or in the round. Crochet that is worked flat is worked in rows with the work turned at the end of each row. Crochet that is worked in the round is worked in a constant round without turning the work. Both types of crochet have their own benefits. Crochet that is worked flat is ideal for traditional garment construction. Crochet that is worked in the round starts at a central point and is worked outwards, making it ideal for large items.

Crochet Hook Size

The size of crochet hook will be detailed using one or more sizing definitions. Modern crochet hooks are measured in metric measurements, starting at 2mm and going up to sizes greater than 15mm. Some old crochet hooks, however, use a different sizing convention and these were measured in numbers. The higher the number the smaller the hook.


Crochet gauge is very important. This measures the number of stitches and rows per 10cms. Checking crochet gauge is necessary when making an item that needs to be a set size. If there are too many stitches and rows then the item will be too small and a larger hook should be used. Most crochet patterns will give a stated gauge and before starting the pattern, a test square should be worked to check gauge.

Motif Crochet

Motif crochet is the creation of small single crochet blocks that are then stitched together to form bigger items. These are typified by the granny square, however motifs can be highly intricate and delicate designs as well as more basic and bulky versions.

Slip Knot

The slip knot is at the heart of all crochet and this is how a crochet pattern is always started.

Stitch Abbreviations

To make the reading of crochet patterns more straightforward, the names of crochet stitches are often abbreviated. Instead of repeating 'chain stitch' for instance, the abbreviation 'ch' is used. This is helpful and makes patterns easier to follow. Most crochet patterns and books contain a glossary of terms used including any special or unusual abbreviations.

Symbol Crocheters

Some crochet patterns, particularly motif and lace crochet, are presented using crochet symbols. Each stitch has a unique symbol and this is used to show how a design is created. Many patterns that feature symbols also have a written version. Symbol crochet is useful as it transcends language making a project open to crocheters the world over.

Yarn Weight

Yarn and wools are grouped together according to thickness. This means that all yarns that are double knitting weight will be the same thickness regardless of brand or manufacturer. This standardisation of yarns is a useful way to ensure that yarns can be substituted in crochet patterns without altering the finished dimensions of a project.

Understanding the different terms used in crochet will soon become second nature to a crocheter and will make the following of crochet patterns and projects extremely simple.

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