How to Read a Crochet Pattern

how to read a pattern

Not too long ago I was in your shoes, the desperate “I just don’t get it” pair of shoes. It was a very uncomfortable position to be in. I just didn’t know how to read crochet patterns.

If you’ve landed upon this post, there’s no doubt in my mind that you want to know how to read a crochet pattern. You’ve realized that patterns are the root of the hobby you love so much and that in order to have complete freedom, you need to be able to read them.

Not being able to read crochet patterns can really hold you back, I know it did me. When you can’t read a pattern, you can’t crochet everything you want. This will leave you feeling frustrated and maybe even doubt that crochet is the hobby for you. Truth is, crochet is the one thing you look forward to every day and the level of self doubt you’re experiencing is only temporary.

Before you read on to the lessons within this page, I’d love to share my secret with you. It took me only days to figure out this foreign crochet language called patterns once I implemented a few changes in my behavior and mind set.

Here’s how I learned to read crochet patterns in 5 easy steps.


I Visualized the Stitch Pattern

If you’re beyond the new beginner level and are familiar with the look of the four basic crochet stitches (single crochet, half double crochet, double crochet and slip stitch), you have the skills necessary to visualize the pattern before you even attempt it.

This approach will save you time and frogging (and the inevitable frustration that follows).

Just focus on one row at a time, one sentence at a time.

Read the first sentence in the first row. Now visualize what that looks like. You can close your eyes if it helps you stay more focused. I typically stare at a blank wall so I can paint it with the stitches running through my head.

I know this may sound a little crazy or over the top but visualization is a very key ingredient to success in other areas of our life, crochet is no exception. Some of the greatest mentors and personal coaches use visualization in their daily routine and teach it to their students.


I Sketched the Sections I didn’t Understand

Even the most experienced crocheters can get caught up in wording. Sometimes they just don’t make sense!

Once you identify the areas you don’t understand, underline or highlight them. Then grab yourself a piece of paper and begin to draw the stitches. Now don’t worry, you don’t need to be an artist. If you can draw a stick figure, you can draw a diagram.

I know I said another scary word, diagram, but trust me on this one. It’s easier than you think.

Print this diagram symbols page for your reference

Begin drawing out your highlighted areas, one stitch symbol at a time. This exercise will help you work through the struggles in bite-sized chunks all while saving you from the dreaded F’s, frogging and frustration.


I Write Out the Repeats

“Repeat from * across.”

I know that sentence is your enemy!

I don’t like repeats either. Here’s what to do:

Grab yourself another sheet of paper. Read through row one. Find the repeat symbol (*), that’s your starting point. Write out the text from that * until you get to the “repeat from * across” cue. Everything you just wrote down is the pattern repeat for that row.

This is a row repeat example. Whenever you see it, know that you will be repeating what you wrote down over and over until you’ve reached the end of your row.

As your working the pattern and you come to the dreaded repeat text, glance over at your paper and just read what you wrote. Read it over and over if you’d like. You’ll probably start to memorize it. That’s the goal!

“Repeat from * 4 times.”

Don’t worry if you see something like this, just treat it the same as before. Find the * in the row and write down the words from it to the repeat prompt text. After you’ve written it down once, write it down 3 more times (or how ever many times it says to repeat, in our example it’s four).

This is a stitch pattern repeat. Whenever you see it, know that you will be repeating what you wrote down however many times it specifies. 

“Repeat rows 2 through 4, until…”

Don’t worry, I’m not going to ask you to write out the entire pattern for two rows (although it’s not a bad idea). The whole purpose of this kind of repeat cue is to cut down on the amount of text and confusion on the page. Instead of writing out everything for row 2, 3 and 4, put a bracket ({ ) around the numbers in your pattern. This will help you easily spot the repeat.

This is a repetitious pattern repeat. Whenever you see it, draw a bracket around the row numbers specified to help you focus on what you need to do.


I Cross Out the Rows as I Complete Them

Call it a sense of completion or  keeping your place, either way, crossing out the rows as you complete them will help you sort things out in your head. You may want to come back to the pattern in the future and in that case, it’s best to use a highlighter to cross out the completed rows.

This accomplishes two big things:

  1. It helps you keep your place when you get interrupted.
  2. It helps you look forward and not get bogged down by text you’ve already looked at.

Our brains work best when inputs are simple and organized. Crossing out the rows you’ve completed with a highlighter helps you separate finished tasks and tasks that still need to completed. The organization is motivation for your brain!


I Just Took Action

Don’t let your fear of failure or self doubt hold you back any more. Dive in, face first.

It’s okay if your project doesn’t come out perfect the first, second, third or even fourth time. You’re learning and imperfections are the result of great effort.

No matter what level of crocheter you consider yourself to be, pick your first pattern to attempt TODAY, but set yourself up for success by selecting a pattern in the beginner category. Once you’ve worked two or three beginner level patterns by reading only, move up to the easy category. Work a few in the easy category and when you’re comfortable, find a few intermediate level patterns.

The pattern level isn’t about separating you into beginner, intermediate or advanced crocheter categories but rather it let’s you know how difficult the pattern is to read and the attention level required to complete it.

Now onward to the lessons.

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Lesson One: Crochet Pattern Structure and Format

master crochet patterns

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Lesson Two: Four Ingredients to Success Part One – Reading & Visualization

master crochet patterns

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Lesson Three: Four Ingredients to Success Part Two – Writing and Drawing 

master crochet patterns

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Lesson Four: Diagram Structure

Master crochet patterns

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Lesson Five: Deciphering the Diagram Code

master crochet patterns

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Lesson Six: Understanding Pattern Repeats

master crochet patterns

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Lesson Seven: How to Keep your Place and Stay Focused

master crochet patterns

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Lesson Eight: Breaking Your Visual (Tutorial) Habit

master crochet patterns

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Lesson Nine: The Confidence You Need to Read a Pattern

master crochet patterns

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I have spent the last six months preparing a resource that will help you learn to read a pattern and follow a diagram once and for all. I’m so proud that all this information is finally out in the world!

I consider you my friend. I’m here to help and see that you succeed with your crochet goals. If you still have questions after completing this nine-lesson series, please don’t hesitate to email them directly to me – brittany@bhookedcrochet.com

If you’ve found success with the Master Crochet Patterns Series, please tell me about it in the comments below!

Cheers,

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