How To Read Crochet Patterns

I know crochet patterns can look a little intimidating to a beginner. Plus, different pattern designers will sometimes have slightly different ways of saying things. So I wanted to put together a little guide to help anyone who might be confused.

Abbreviations
Crochet patterns use abbreviations to help keep them short. Each pattern will have a key to explain what the abbreviations mean. Here is a master list of common abbreviations. Most abbreviations are standard and will be the same in any pattern, but every now and then (probably in more advanced patterns), you might find something unique to that designer’s writing style or specific pattern.

[Repeats]
Some rounds will have sections that are repeated. These repeated sections will be either in parentheses ( ) or brackets [ ]. I use brackets in my patterns. It will say “rep # times” or “rep around” after the brackets to let you know how many times you’ll need to do the section in brackets. “Rep around” means that you do it all the way around until you get to the end of that round.

(Stitch Count)
At the end of each line (round) in a  pattern there will be a number in parentheses. That number is the number of stitches you will have made in that round. Sometimes it will be just a number “(30)”, sometimes it might say “(30 st)”. They both mean the same thing; 30 stitches. Sometimes a pattern might say “(30 dc)”. That just means that you were using double crochets in that round and that you should have 30 of them.

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Breaking it down
As an example, I’m going to break down a few lines from my Gumdrop Slouchy Hat pattern into simple, plain english!

rnd 3: ch 3. [1 dc. 2 dc in next st.] rep around. sl st to join. (48)

Round 3: Start off by chaining 3. Make 1 double crochet in the next stitch. Then put two double crochets in the next stitch (this is an increase). “rep around” means that you’re going to continue doing the part in brackets all the way around until you reach the end of the round. Make a slip stitch to join the last stitch to the first. You’ll have made 48 stitches in this round.


rnd 4: ch 3. [2 dc. 2 dc in next st.] rep around. sl st to join. (64)

Round 4: Start off by chaining 3. Make 1 double crochet in each of the the next two stitches. Then put two double crochets in the next stitch (this is an increase). “rep around” means that you’re going to continue doing the part in brackets all the way around until you reach the end of the round. Make a slip stitch to join the last stitch to the first. You’ll have made 64 stitches in this round.


rnd 5: ch 3. [3 dc. 2 dc in next st.] rep around. sl st to join. (80)

Round 5: Start off by chaining 3. Make 1 double crochet in each of the the next three stitches. Then put two double crochets in the next stitch (this is an increase). “rep around” means that you’re going to continue doing the part in brackets all the way around until you reach the end of the round. Make a slip stitch to join the last stitch to the first. You’ll have made 80 stitches in this round.

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I hope this helps if you were having any confusion! If you have any questions or if there’s anything else that you’d like me to explain (any ideas for future crochet help posts?), please let me know in the comments! :)

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40 Responses

  1. SundaysChild says:

    There’s also the added confusion of British vs. American terminology, where the same stitch name can mean two different stitches, depending on where the pattern comes from. yeehaww! lol Happy Hookin’ .. Julie Andrea

  2. Lyn says:

    Saw your fire ring performance…. AWESOME!!!! Had never seen anything like it before….
    Obvious clothing choice – wondering how much ‘heat’ your arms and face are getting?
    It was mesmerizing to watch!!!! Very cool! (excuse the play on words)

  3. Deanna Barnes says:

    Thanks so much for posting this!!! I made 3 of the Gumdrop Slouchy hats for my daughter for Christmas. I did struggle with the increase/decrease stuff, but I was able to work it out with the info in the posts. She loved the hats, and they were uber easy to make!!! She is a junior at Morehead State University and her friends are already begging for hats like hers!!! I love your work and enjoy your blog! Please keep it up!!!

  4. Ms. Salti says:

    Thank you for putting this together! I’m keeping this handy for next time I have a pattern I need to figure out!

  5. Kristel T.M. says:

    This is great! Thank you! I’ve been nervous to work anything in a round because I just don’t seem to get it. I think this will help a lot.

  6. lauryn says:

    This is such a great post! I’d just about given up on reading crochet patterns. The only way I’ve been able to understand directions is to watch YouTube videos! Thanks for this helpful post :)

  7. Michelle says:

    I love your waffle cone slouchy beanie pattern. I am new at reading patterns. Can you help me with translating these?

    #1
    rnd 1: ch 4 (counts as 1 dc + 1 ch now and throughout). 1 dc in 4th ch from hook. ch 1. In same ch sp as before: [1 dc, ch 1] 6 times. sl st to join. (8 dc)

    rnd 2: ch 4. 1 dc in same sp. ch 1. [1 dc, ch 1 twice in next dc] rep around. sl st to join. (16 dc)

    #2
    rnd 3: ch 4. 1 dc, ch 1 twice in next dc. [1 dc, ch 1 in next dc. 1 dc, ch 1 twice in next dc.] rep around. sl st to join. (24 dc)

    rnd 13: ch 1 (counts as 1 sc). Work in back loops only: 1 sc in ea sc. (48 sc)

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  9. Harz says:

    I have been having some real trouble getting my stitches large enough. What should I do. How big do you recommend doing them? (I have been doing alot of stuffed animals lately and haven’t gotten used to a large stitch again)

    • Harz says:

      Oops, forgot to mention it was the gumdrop I was working on. :)

    • Julie says:

      The best way to make them larger is to use a larger hook. And if you typically crochet really tight, try to ease up on your tension. Making hats, need to crochet much looser than you would for amigurumi which is super tight!

  10. Zoie Roberts says:

    When I go to do round four everything goes all wavey, is it supposed to do that?

    • Julie says:

      no, that usually means that your gauge is too large or you’re increasing too fast (putting too many stitches into that round).

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  12. manu says:

    hi iam confuse about 14 ,15 row please explain me about it thanks

    • Lisa says:

      I am confused also with lines 14 and 15. It seems to make the opening larger. I would love for you to help out with this Julie.

  13. Lou says:

    Hi
    Very beautiful pattern and am looking to purchase your book.I tried the pattern and it came out really small like “doll size” however I was just wandering if you have sizes for example for myself and a child. Thank you very much fpr your time and patience

    • Julie says:

      Hi Lou! Which pattern are you talking about? None of my patterns are intended to come out doll size. I do not have any child size patterns at this time but any of my hat patterns should fit an adult :)

  14. martha says:

    Thanks! i am trying the Gumdrop Slouchy Beanie pattern and got thoroughly confused on rnd. 4. I am rather new to crocheting. THANKS!

  15. Lorelle Camilleri says:

    Hi
    could you please explain the meaning of this:
    *stop to check gauge* (found at the end of round 3)
    Thanks :)…lovely pattern can’t wait to start :)

  16. lois covey says:

    need help on a stitch. I know what sc means but what does sc2tog mean

  17. Crochet Clueless says:

    I am a VERY beginner, exploring the world of crochet on my own. I’m attempting this pattern and I can’t even get pass ’round 1′. What does ‘rnd 1: With CA, ch 4 (3 count as 1 dc). 15 dc in 4th ch from hook. sl st to join. (16)
    *work in back loops only from here on*’ mean in layman’s terms?
    Can someone please explain???

    • Erin says:

      I had to do this like three times to get it right. Chain 4, then with your hook still in that last chain, stitch into the 1st stitch at the beginning of the chain (down where your cast on is but stitch one) and double crochet. That counts as one. Do it again by inserting your needle back into that first stitch again and double crochet until you have done this a total of 15 times. Count your stitches as you go. You will eventually do 15 and then slip stitch to connect it. As you are going you will see that you are constantly going through the same spot in that first stitch and it will eventually become a circle. You can then gently pull your cast one string tighter to close the hole. I hope this helps. I literally learned to crochet about 4 days ago so this one took me a while.

  18. Crochet Clueless says:

    I got an e-mail re: ponchos and wanted to buy a copy of a book of patterns, but I feel intimidated by the jargon in this pattern. I therefore dread what’s going to happen if I buy the book. It may get worse. I can’t get pass Round 1 and chain 4. Help, please!

  19. theresa says:

    this is one of my fav sites! I admire your work and creativity! Thanks so much for the free pattern. cant wait to purchase some of the cool things!

  20. Chani says:

    Thanks this was very helpfull. im still learning to read directions! usually i just go to my GRandma;)

  21. Linda says:

    Hi Julie , I just want to thank you for the revisions to the Gumdrop Slouchy Hat. I was lost but once I took your suggestion all came together. Can’t wait to finish and wear this pretty hat. Thanks again, Linda

  22. Cindy says:

    I would like to know how to finish off, how to secure the ends.

  23. Betty says:

    Hello…I love this pattern. It is great that you explain how to apply stitches in each of the 6 to 13 rows. But what about 14 and 15. I am not understanding the 3 dc dc2tog. Am I to dc in 3 stitches and dc 2 in one stitch? HELP!

  24. Erika says:

    You forgot to add this line and it is the one I am confused about. Thank you.

    rnd 14: ch 3. [3 dc. dc2tog] rep around. sl st to join. (64)
    rnd 15: ch 2 (counts as 1 sc now and throughout). 1 sc. sc2tog. [2 sc. sc2tog] rep around. sl st to join. (48)

  25. Inround 3 am I actually doing 2 single double crochets then in next 2 stitches I am doing a double

  26. Lucy says:

    hey i was wondering, when im doing a pattern that calls for “*sc in next 3, 2 sc in next sc* around (30)” how exactly would i read that? thanks!

  27. EJL says:

    Hey!
    Having some trouble on rounds 14 and 15 on the gumdrop slouch hat pattern. Help?

  28. Beth says:

    My gauge at the end of round 3 is 5 1/2 inches instead of 4 1/2! How does this happen? I’ve been so unsuccessful making hats. I follow directions exactly but my gauge doesn’t match! Help!

  29. Maria Grace says:

    I love this hat and trying to make it for my daughter. I dont get it. I worked rounds 3 and 4 and I finally came up with 48 stiches in round 4. I’ve worked round 5 several times and each time i come up with a different number higher than 80. I checked all my stiches and they seem to be ok. I am not a beginner, what am I doing wrong? also I’m confused. Round 5 – Chain 3 counts as a DC, then you crochet 1 DC in each of the next ST – so thats 4 DCs now, correct? what do I do at the end of that round… I am not sure how its supposed to finish off i.e. are my last stiches DCs or 2 DCs? HELP… this should have taken a couple of hours I am now in a couple of days…. Thanks and Happy New Year
    Maria Grace

    • Crystal says:

      Hi, Maria,

      Did you get the answer? I am wondering the same thing too. The count isn’t right on the 4th round.

      Crystal

  30. Rosalyn says:

    What is the stitch used in the article picture? It’s a beautiful pattern and I love the mustard color!

    • Julie says:

      It’s just a double crochet in back loops :) The yarn is Hometown USA but I altered the color in Photoshop, I don’t think it actually comes in that color :(

  31. Katie Smyklo says:

    I am so happy I found this blog post! I just spent HOURS working on my first round pattern and the “42 sts.” at the end of the round had me SO confused. I actually went through and made 42 slip stitches because I had no idea it was just a count. I’m glad I used my “practice yarn” first now that I know what I’m doing!