Wednesday, September 25

crochet 101 :: read a written pattern

Crochet 101 is a series of crochet tutorials where I will teach you how to complete the basic stitches needed to crochet.

Hi :) 

So far, in Crochet 101, we have learned how to:

Only one more lesson to go before we can start our first project...
Let's keep going!

Lesson 22:
Patterns can either be written or use symbols in a chart form.Written crochet patterns can be hard to understand when you are first starting out because most patterns are written in short-hand.

I have never learned how to interpret patterns that have symbols only, so today we will be learning how to read a written pattern, learn the abbreviations of stitches and how to have it all make sense so we can actually make something!

**In this tutorial, I will be providing tips that helped me when I was first learning to crochet. Since I taught myself through YouTube and a combination of online tutorials, I will be sharing what worked for me. I am in no way and expert crocheter, however, I enjoy it very much and I believe I have enough experience to share with you. 

•Write down/print out a key of crochet abbreviations•
When I first began crocheting from a written pattern, I found it helpful to have a list of crochet abbreviations written down/printed out and by my side as I worked through a pattern. This helped me get used to the abbreviations in the patterns I was reading and I found that I needed to look up the abbreviations less and less. Plus it saves you from going back to the beginning of a pattern where it lists the abbreviations (if the pattern lists them) every time you forget what something means and you won't lose your place in the pattern.

•Read over the pattern before you start•
This will not only let you know what materials you will need for the pattern, but it will also give you an idea of what you will be doing stitch wise and technique wise. Pre-reading over the pattern will also let you know whether or not it is a well written pattern (does it make sense?). A lot of patterns online that are free are written by someone who does not have a lot of experience writing patterns or has not had the pattern tested by others before they publish it, so it could be full of mistakes. This will save you lots of frustration and tears. (Trust me on this one!) As you become more comfortable with stitches and how things are supposed to look, you may be able to interpret what is supposed to be done in a poorly written pattern.

•Note any special stitches that are in a pattern•
This helped me when I first started doing more advanced patterns. I really wanted to challenge myself as a crocheter so I did a lot of intermediate patterns when I first started out. It helped me to write down any special stitches and abbreviations for those stitches so that I wouldn't have to look up how to do it every time it showed up in the pattern.

•Keep a notepad and Post-it notes close by
I like to keep a notebook or notepad close by when working new patterns so that if I make an adjustment or change something in the pattern, I can use my notes when I work the pattern in the future.
I also keep a notepad handy to write down the hook and yarn information I'm using for a pattern. A lot of the patterns I have worked, I have never used the yarns they have listed for the pattern, so writing this information down is helpful for the future (if I have to stop for any reason or if I run out of yarn). I just look up what I used or am using and I'll be able to continue on with my project.
You don't have to do this, but I like to use a Post-it to help me keep my place in a pattern. That way if I have to stop and put the project down for a bit, I'll know where to pick back up.

Have fun•
Relax. When you're super tense about first starting out, it makes crochet no fun and I don't want you to feel discouraged and give up. Practice makes perfect!

Okay, now let's get started!

Firstly, here is a chart of crochet abbreviations and their meanings:
(chart made by me, terms found via Crafty Yarn Council)

I know it seems like a lot of terms to learn, but not all of them will be used in one pattern. The best way I can explain why patterns are written this way, is to think of patterns as short hand directions. If the pattern was written out word for word, some patterns would be like 50 pages long. Imagine doing that pattern. No thanks!
(Some of the stitches and terms, I plan on doing a future tutorial for, but if you need to learn them now, YouTube is a great place to start.)

I also want to share with you that US (American) and UK (English) have different meaning for certain terms. Below I've included a chart to show the different meanings:



Rounds or Rows?
If you are working a flat piece, or a piece that is crocheted in rows, your pattern will have directions for each row; I.E.: Row 1... And you will turn your work at the end of each row (like I have showed in the stitch tutorials).
If you are working a piece in the round, your pattern will have directions for each round; I.E.: Rnd 1: or Round 1... And you will be joining each round, working on one side of the piece only.
At the end of every row or round, some patterns provide the stitch count (the number of stitches you should have at the end of that row/round) so that you can keep track and make sure you are doing it right.

Some patterns have repeats. This is also another way of keeping a pattern as short as possible (besides the abbreviations). The symbols used to show that there is a repeat may very depending on who wrote the pattern, but if the pattern is written well, it will have a key provided to show you what symbols mean 'repeat'.

Patterns may use parenthesis (...), brackets [...], or asterisks *...* around stitches that are supposed to be repeated, and then following these symbols, will be the number of times this series of stitches needs to be repeated. In this case, you should do the stitches written in between the symbols however many times the pattern says before moving on to the next part. Sometimes the pattern will just say 'across' or 'to end' after the symbols, in which case you would keep repeating this stitch sequence to the end of the row or round. It may also say 'to last # stitches', and in that instance, you would repeat the sequence of stitches until the number of stitches listed are left and continue on with the pattern directions.

Here is an example of this:
(sc2tog, sc in next st) 3 times, 2 sc in next st.
So, the breakdown of this line is as follows:
single crochet 2 stitches together, then single crochet in the next stitch, then single crochet the next 2 stitches together, then single crochet in the next stitch, then single crochet the next 2 stitches together, then single crochet in the next stitch, then make 2 single crochet stitches in the next stitch.

Do you see how that can get long? 3 lines of instructions compacted into 1 line. Much better.

Putting it together:
Here is a sample round:
Rnd 5: (2 sc in next st, sc in next 3 sts) 6 times - (30 sts)
Now this looks pretty confusing for someone just starting out, but when you break down each piece of the pattern line, it is less daunting. Here it is broken down:
Rnd 5: This is the fifth round of your pattern.
2 sc in next st: Make 2 single crochet stitches in the next stitch, both in the same stitch.
sc in next 3 sts: Make 1 single crochet in each of the next 3 stitches.
(...) 6 times: Repeat the stitch sequence in the parenthesis 6 times.
- (30 sts): At the end of round 5, you should have 30 stitches.

(You can also go here and here for great posts on how to read written patterns if you are a little confused from this post.)

Try looking up some beginner patterns and just read over them, even if you don't plan to make the item, reading over the patterns will be great practice for when you're ready to start something!

I recommend using Pinterest or AllFreeCrochet for some beginner patterns. I learned from these places, and from watching a bunch of YouTube videos so if you want some suggestions for places to go, I'd be happy to help :)

That's all for this week's crochet lessons. I hope they were helpful!
As always, if you have any questions, just ask!

See you tomorrow, friend :)

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  1. This is probably the best how to read a written pattern tutorial I've seen! I ended up stumbling through some truly easy patterns as a beginner, hoping that it would get easier (which eventually it did). Great idea with the dedicated notepad too! I usually just make notes directly on the printed copy and then go back in the word document and change it when I'm done and know which notes worked and which were bad plans, reprint and keep the final copy in my beautifully organized binder which I rarely actually use.

    1. Thank you so much! That means a lot :)

      For something like this, it's a little hard to explain through typing so I'm glad that someone thought it was helpful haha

      Thanks for stopping by :)

  2. I'm glad i came across your web site i have a lot of trouble with the parenthesis and this will be very helpful thank you


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