Crochet Pattern Abbreviations

The hardest, most intimidating part for many people while learning to crochet is reading a pattern. At first glance to new crocheters, it looks like a whole new language and in a way it kind of is. Crochet patterns are a combination of abbreviations and symbols that designers use to translate an idea so that others can recreate it. Just like learning a new language you must first learn words before you can read or write sentences. The Craft Yarn Council has set a standard for designing patterns and abbreviations to create consistency in the yarn industry. Even with the industry standards, the individual style and wording will change from designer to designer but generally, the abbreviations should be consistent.

Abbreviations are used to make patterns more simple and to take up less physical writing space for printing where space may be limited such as in magazines or books. To learn the abbreviations I find it easiest to break them down into 3 categories, general instructions, common stitches and stitch features.

  • General instructions use abbreviations of common words to describe what you need to do, such as repeat (rep), each (ea) or skip (sk).
  • All the common stitches are written as abbreviations, such as single crochet (sc) or double crochet (dc). Sometimes you will see special stitches with their own abbreviations, these are listed and explained in the pattern.
  • Stitch features are used to create shaping or texture, such as an increase/decrease (inc/dec) or Post stitches (FP/BP). You will always see a stitch feature written with a common stitch. For example, Front Post Double Crochet would be written as FPdc.

You will also find symbols such as asterisks or brackets to indicate repeats of the same stitch sequence. Generally, an asterisk * is used at the start and the end of a series of stitches and the pattern will indicate how many times you will need to repeat. Brackets ( ) are usually used when several stitches are worked into the same space. Brackets are also used at the end of a row or round to indicate stitch count (12). In more advanced patterns you may see variations of brackets such as [ ] or { } when their are multiple repeats in the same row or round.

When you are first learning to read patterns I recommend you keep an abbreviation key nearby as a reference. You can find a complete list of crochet and knit abbreviations on the Craft Yarn Council website. I have also created a handy ‘cheat sheet’ printable with the most common abbreviations that I use in my patterns. I have listed them in the three categories I mentioned to make it easier to find and remember. Click the Download printable button for your free printable:

Once you decipher the abbreviations and wrap your head around the concept of repeats, you are well on your way to creating from a pattern. Just remember to start with beginner patterns while still memorizing abbreviations so you don’t get overwhelmed. If you ever do come to what seems like unsolvable confusion, don’t be afraid to ask the designer or post a question in an online forum or group! We are so lucky to have all the answers we want at our fingertips with the internet, so use all the resources you can! Lastly, don’t give up and keep practicing it does get easier with time!

Did you use your new pattern reading skills to make a creations? I’d love to see, show me with #madewithloveandyarn or by tagging me on Instagram or Facebook!

Happy Hooking!

 

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