Tuesday, 13 March 2012

How To Read A Crochet Pattern

The first time you look at a crochet pattern it can be incredibly daunting.  With all the letter and symbols, it can look like a secret code or another language.  But once you learn how to read them and understand what they mean, you'll find that crochet patterns are actually easy to follow.  Yes, really, they are.

My Mama and my Mum taught me to crochet in the most basic way when I was about 7 or 8 years old. I learnt by copying them, not by reading a pattern.  I created many chains and a scarf, or two and some clothes for my dolls.  It was not until a few years ago that I got my first look at a written crochet patterns.  Boy, was I overwhelmed.  I kept going back to the pattern and then heading to my computer to decipher what I had to do.  I spent more time decoding than I did on actual crocheting.  It was incredibly frustrating.

All crochet patterns are written using Crochet Abbreviations.  
Some of the basic ones are below.

alt = alternate
approx = approximately
MC = main color
M = meters
MM = millimeters
BEG = begin(ning)
BET = between
BL/bk lp = back loop
BLO = back loop only
BO = bobble
BP = back post
BPDC = back post double crochet
BPSC = back post single crochet
BPTR = back post triple crochet

OZ = ounce
CA = color A
CB = color B
CC = contrasting color
CH = chain
CH- = refers to chain previously made/worked
CH_SP = chain space
CL =cluster
CM = centimeter
CONT = continue
PAT = pattern
PC = popcorn
P = picot
PM = place marker
PREV = previous
DC = double crochet
DC2TOG = double crochet 2 stitches together
DEC = decrease
DTR/DTRC = double triple/treble crochet
REM = remain
REP = repeat
REV SC/reverse sc = reverse single crochet
RND = round
RS = right side
EA = each

SC = single crochet
sc2tog = single crochet 2 stitches together
SK = skip
SL ST = slip stitch
SP = space
ST = stitch
FLO = front loop only
FP = front post
FPDC = front post double crochet
FPSC = front post single crochet(s)
FPTR/FPTRC = front post triple/treble crochet
FL - front loop
FLO = front loop only
TBL=through back loop
TCH = turning chain
TOG = together
TC/TRC = triple crochet
G = gram
GRP = groups
GS = Galaxy Stitch
WS = wrong side
HDC = half double crochet
HK = hook
X-st = cross-stitch
INC = increase
YD = yard
YO = yarn over
YOH = yarn over hook
LP's = loop
LP ST = loop stitch
At first the abbreviations and codes can be intimidating, but after a few patterns you'll have it cracked.  Just keep at it and don't give up.  Think of your end product.  Soon you'll be reading them like a bilingual pro!

Now to learn the basic stitches.  If you don't have anyone to show you, the next best resource is youtube.  There are so many great tutorials on there.  You can search by basic stitches or by taking yourself through a series of crochet lessons/sessions.  When I was first learning, I'd work out what stitch I needed and then youtube the stitch, watch how it was done and then do that stitch over and over agin until I perfected it, and then I had a go using it on my selected pattern.  Yes, it is time consuming but worth it.

One other consideration is that patterns work in either a row or in a round.  The pattern will tell you this.  Obviously with a round you go in a circle and with rows you move back and forth. 

Websites can also be an amazing tool not just for patterns but for learning stitches and piecing a garment together.

Some of my favourites:

  • http://www.crochetspot.com/
  • http://www.crochetaustralia.com.au/
  • http://crochet-mania.blogspot.com.au/
There are some apps available too.  I have the Crochet Decoder on my phone for when I'm out and about and need some help with a difficult pattern.  It's incredibly simple to use and has solved some of my problems with the click of my phone screen.

Check out some of the beautiful crochet patterns on my Pinterest board .  See, it's worth it when you can create such pieces of beauty.  Give it a go and if you have other suggestions or ideas that have worked for you, please let me know because I still need tips on perfecting my crocheting.


I hope this posts makes your crochet learning less frustrating than mine was.
One question I have been asked - Do you prefer to crochet or knit? 
 I must say that I enjoy both immensely but I think crocheting will always be my favourite.

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