I truly believe that I write my patterns from a place of simplicity. I want to write them to make them easy to read. However, I know that it’s not always easy to understand what the pattern designer is trying to say. I’ve struggled reading patterns as well. I wanted to take this chance to share some tips on how to read a crochet pattern. I’ll break this down by section based on how I write my patterns.
Disclaimers & Legal Terminology
While the legalities of copyrights on crochet patterns can be fuzzy, it’s still just nice to follow moral code when utilizing a designer’s pattern. All of my patterns include a disclaimer in the footer stating that it is my intellectual property and may not be copied, rewritten, or redistributed in any way. I make sure all of my photos are watermarked. However, I also state in my disclaimer that my photos are not to be utilized to sell a product produced from my pattern. They must take and use their own photos from their finished product.
Each pattern designer is different when it comes to their patterns, so I just urge you to pay attention to the disclaimer they use on their patterns. If you have questions, designers are happy to answer them, so don’t be afraid to send them a message or email.
Pattern Name, Photo, and Skill Level
The first part of my patterns include the name of the pattern, my business name, a photo of the finished product from the pattern, and the skill level that I suggest for the pattern. My patterns typically are geared toward Easy-level or Advanced Beginner-level crocheters. I do also try to include the skill level in the descriptions of my premium patterns, just so you don’t buy a pattern and then feel overwhelmed by the skill level. See the example of one of my simple cover pages below!
Supplies & What You Need to Know
The next part of my patterns include information such as the yarn I used, hook size, other materials and supplies needed, the gauge, important stitches, terms, or abbreviations, and any notes and thoughts I had while writing the pattern.
This is a pretty straight-forward explanation just based on the title. However, each pattern should state or show which yarn and colors were used in the pattern. This doesn’t mean you HAVE to use that exact yarn, but just know that if you choose to use something different, colors and gauge may vary.
Again, this is pretty self-explanatory. The hook size listed on a pattern is the hook size the designer used when creating the project and writing the pattern. Changing the hook size will change the size of your stitches, and thus, change the overall size of your project. A larger hook will mean a larger stitch. A smaller hook will mean a smaller stitch.
Other Materials & Supplies Needed
Patterns should list other materials and supplies you may need besides a crochet hook and yarn. Typically, my patterns also need a pair of scissors, a yarn/tapestry needle, and fiber fill. Pay attention to the extra supplies in case you don’t happen to have something on-hand. Oh, here’s a tip for you. If a pattern calls for stitch markers, and you don’t have any, or don’t want to purchase any, use a different-colored piece of yarn. That’s a top-secret trick!
This is one of THE MOST IMPORTANT parts of how to read a crochet pattern. Each yarn brand, not just yarn weight, has its own gauge. However, that is based on whomever created the yarn. Each person has a different tension when crocheting and holding their yarn. This is why you should always do a gauge swatch before starting your project. The gauge that I use is: 15 stitches by 13 rows of single crochet stitches equals 4″. So, you would need to do 13 rows of 15 single crochet stitches, then measure to see how close you get to that 4″.
If it’s smaller or large, that’s fine! It just may be that your tension is tighter or looser than mine. Given that you’re using the same size crochet hook, if your gauge swatch is larger, your tension is likely more loose than mine. If your gauge swatch is smaller, your tension is likely tighter than mine. As long as you’re okay with knowing that your finished project may be smaller or larger than mine, keep it! If not, try to adjust your tension, or you can go up a hook size to get a larger stitch, and down a hook size to get a smaller stitch.
Important Stitches, Terms & Abbreviations to Know
Every crochet pattern should include this part. This will inform you what stitches were used in the pattern. If they’re abbreviated throughout the pattern, this section gives you the full term or stitch nam, so you know what the abbreviation stands for. This acts like a glossary for you to come back to, in case your get stuck on something. Here are some examples of abbreviations and terms that may be used throughout crochet patterns:
- ch – chain
- dec – decrease
- inc – increase
- inv dec – invisible decrease
- mc – magic circle
- rep – repeat
Keep in mind that different pattern designers may use different abbreviations. Most are pretty standard across the board, but each pattern you read/use may be different. When there are more difficult or “non-standard” stitches used in any of my patterns, I like to link directly to a tutorial. This way, you can practice the stitch before you get too far into the pattern and get frustrated.
This is the part where I add any extra details or notes about my patterns that don’t fit right into the instructions. This might be something like where you can find a tutorial, or a note that will make part of the pattern easier to understand. I’ll comment on if certain parts of the pattern are worked in rounds versus rows, etc. Keep the notes section in mind as you’re working through a pattern. Look back to that if you find yourself struggling with something.
Now this is the fun part of how to read a crochet pattern! You get to start working on the pattern. Some designers will list out rows or rounds. Others prefer to describe their pattern in steps. Either way, don’t forget to refer back to the notes or terms sections if you find yourself stuck on something. A lot of good patterns include step-by-step photos, or at the very least, photos of the more tricky parts of the pattern to help you through. I know I’m a visual person, so it helps for me to see the pattern progressing. If you’re a super visual person, and if you’re working on a free pattern, check to see if the designer has a video tutorial linked. Most paid patterns won’t have this, unless they have a private way to share videos with their customers.
If you get stuck on a pattern, or find that something is off, don’t be afraid to reach out to the designer! I know I’m always willing to help people that are working on my patterns. I definitely want to know if something is wrong with the pattern. I’m sure most designers would be glad to help, or point you in the right direction as well.