Tutorial: How to Read a Crochet Pattern

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Crochet patterns come in a few different forms, all of which will look daunting to a beginner. Once you get the hang of reading a pattern it will come easily to you, it just takes a bit of practice. Patterns can be written in 2 main forms: written and diagram. Today’s post will take you through the basics of both so that hopefully you will be prepared to tackle any pattern.


Written crochet patterns are basically just abbreviated forms of the instructions needed for the item; a table of common abbreviations can be found below however patterns will often explain their abbreviations and any unusual stitches at the start of the pattern.

There are 3 main parts to each pattern: the round/row number, the stitch instructions and the stitch count number.

Row/Round Number: A pattern normally starts with either a chain, a chain that you join into a loop or a magic ring. If a pattern starts with a chain you will generally be working in rows; at the end of each row you will turn your work around so that the end of the row you were working on is now at the beginning. If you use a magic ring or join a chain into a loop you will generally be working in rounds where you either work in 1 continuous loop or you slip stitch the last stitch of the round into the first stitch of the round. Whichever of these is required will be specified in the pattern so all you have to do is follow the instructions.

Stitch instructions: The main body of the pattern will be the abbreviated instructions for the pattern; how much they are abbreviated is entirely up the person who wrote the pattern but once you have the basics down should be easy to follow.

One last element to a crochet pattern is a repeat which is often symbolised with *asterisks* followed by instructions. For example “*1sc sk 1 st* repeat from * to * to end of row” meaning you repeat the text within the asterisks until the end of the row.

An example of a written pattern:

Row 1 ch21

Row 2 sc in 2nd chain from hook, sc to end of row, turn [20sc]

Row 3 ch1 *sc ch1 sk 1st* repeat from * to * to end of row [10sc]

You would read this pattern in the following way:

Row 1 chain 21 chain stitches

Row 2 Single crochet in the second chain from the hook. Single crochet in each stitch to the end of the row. Turn your work.

Row 3 Chain 1. Single crochet in the next stitch and chain 1. Skip the following stitch, single crochet in the one after and chain 1 again. Repeat this pattern to the end of the row.

Stitch count: The number of stitches each row has in will be specified at the end of the row as follows: [20sc] or sometimes just [20]. It is important when following patterns that you keep an eye on your stitch count at the end of each round/ row to head off any mistakes as soon as possible. Nothing worse than things not adding up at the end of your project and not being entirely sure why.


Crochet diagrams can look extremely daunting when you first look at them but the great thing about them is that visually, they look just like the pattern you are trying to make. All you have to do is learn or keep a reference of the symbols and you’re set! Even then, often a pattern will have a key on the side with the symbols such as the one below:

Once you’ve gotten the hang of the symbols you can follow the pattern around or across row by row.


This is a very simple pattern which you would read as follows:

Row 1: Chain 7,

Row 2: Dc in 3rd chain from hook, dc to end of row [5dc]

Now obviously any pattern you use will be more complicated than this but if you take it row by row and refer to your key for the symbols you will be fine!

Now get out there and find yourself a pattern!


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