How to Read a Crochet Pattern for Beginners

Finding a pattern to work from when starting out with crochet can be overwhelming. You see so many patterns, and it can be hard to know which ones are worth spending time on. Reading patterns is one of the first things we learn as crocheters, and it’s an important skill you need to master before you venture into more complex patterns. While pattern creators often have their own “code,” most creators use similar abbreviations and symbols. But when you open your first pattern, you may find yourself facing instructions like these right off the bat:

R1: MR - 6 x SC

So, what does this super secret code mean? Well it’s not as much of a secret as you may think. Let’s break down how to read your first crochet pattern. But first…

Is Your Pattern in US or UK terms?

You may have noticed that common words in the US are different in the UK. For instance, a biscuit is a flaky bun in the US. In the UK, it’s a cookie. The US biscuit is more commonly called a scone in the UK. A little confusing, huh?

Well crochet terms also have US and UK counterparts. The biggest difference comes down to the most basic of stitches. In the US, it’s a single crochet. But in the UK, a single crochet is called a double crochet.

Before you get started on a pattern, always check if it’s in US or UK terms. Most patterns are marked US or UK, but how can you tell which it is if it’s not marked? It’s easier than you think. There’s no single crochet in UK terms. So, if you see instructions for single crochet in the pattern, you’re making a US pattern.

What Common Crochet Terms Should You Know?

You may be wondering, “How can I find out if the pattern uses single crochet? All I see are random letters!” Well those letters aren’t so random. They’re abbreviations for common crochet terms. Although most pattern makers use similar abbreviations, many patterns include a chart of the abbreviations and their explanations before the pattern begins. You should always check that chart to be sure the pattern maker isn’t using some unique abbreviations.

What are the Basic Stitch Abbreviations?

Some pattern makers write out their full instructions, but you’re most likely going to come across many different abbreviations for stitches and other directions when you’re reading a pattern. Understanding these abbreviations is the key to cracking the pattern’s code.

Here’s a handy chart of some common US crochet terms, what they mean, and their UK counterparts. Keep in mind that these are just some of the most common abbreviations. As you become more advanced, you’ll most likely find many more abbreviations, especially as you learn trickier stitches.

 US Crochet Abbreviation What It Means UK Crochet Abbreviation
sl st slip stitch ss
sc single crochet dc (double crochet)
hdc half double crochet htr (half treble)
dc double crochet tr (treble)
tr treble or triple dtr (double treble)
sc2tog single crochet 2 together dc2tog (double crochet 2 together)
dc2tog double crochet 2 together tr2tog (treble crochet 2 together
ch chain ch
FLO front loops only FL
BLO back loops only BL
sp space sp
yo yarn over yoh (yarn over hook)
sk skip miss (no abbreviation)
bo bobble stitch bbl
inc increase stitch inc
dec decrease stitch dec
lp loop loop
MR magic ring MR

So knowing what we know now, we can now understand that R1: MR - 6 x SC means that the first round needs a magic ring, which is done by single crocheting six times into the ring. Let’s take a look at another round that’s a bit more complicated.

How Do You Read Crochet Patterns With Asterisks, Parentheses, and Brackets?

Crochet patterns almost always require you to follow a specific order. And most patterns will need you to work from right to left. Just like there’s a set of rules for how you read a math equation (PEMDAS, anyone?), there’s a set of rules for how to read a line in a crochet pattern.

Let’s start with what to do when you come across asterisks. Sometimes a line of a pattern will be closed in asterisks, like this:

R6: *7sc, inc*

When you see something like this, you’ll repeat what’s in the asterisks until the round is complete.

You may also come across something like this:

R9: [7sc, inc] x 6

In this case, you’d repeat what’s in the brackets the designated number of times. So for this round, you’d do seven single crochet stitches followed by an increase stitch six times.

You may also see this:

(dc, ch3, dc) in next st

Most often, seeing parentheses means that you’ll do everything in the parentheses in one stitch, which is the case for this line here. However, some pattern creators use brackets and parentheses interchangeably, so always check the pattern’s notes and abbreviations before you begin working to be sure you’re following the right technique.

What’s a Crochet Chart and How Do I Read One?

Some pattern makers use what’s called a crochet chart or a crochet diagram. And for beginners, these diagrams can look like they’re written in an ancient code. But especially when working in the round, they don’t have to be too complicated.

The first step is to find the first stitch. When working in the round, it’s the center of the diagram. Then, you’ll work your way outwards.

Most often, a slip stitch will be marked with a dot, while a chain is marked with a flat oval. A single crochet can be either a plus sign or an x. Half double crochet stitches are marked with a T. Double crochet stitches are a T with one crossbeam, while treble crochet stitches have two crossbeams.

Single crochet increase stitches are a V with one crossbeam in each line of the letter. Single crochet decrease is the same, but upside down. For half double crochet increases and decreases, the crossbeam moves to the top of the lines of the V. Double crochet increases and decreases have both the crossbeams in the middle of the lines and at the top.

When you’re first learning crochet, it’s a good idea to stick with patterns instead of charts. They’re easier to read and keep track of your stitches. As you get more advanced, you may come across a pattern in a language you don’t recognize, in which case you may need to use a chart. So learning the symbols may still help you in the future.

Now you have the tools to get started on your new hobby. Crocheting can look confusing at first, but once you learn a little of the lingo, you’ll find that it’s not as difficult as you think. In time, you’ll automatically know those abbreviations and symbols that once gave you so much trouble. As a beginner crocheter, you may find it helpful to watch videos breaking down the patterns, which is where The Woobles come in. The Woobles beginner kits will walk you through each round, so you never have to worry about not understanding the pattern. If you’re a beginner to the world of crocheting, check out our Easy Peasy Beginner Bundle. Soon enough, you’ll be reading patterns like a pro.


How do you read a drawn crochet pattern?

Drawn crochet patterns are called crochet charts or crochet diagrams. Each diagram contains symbols for each stitch. First, you’ll need to find the beginning stitch. If you’re crocheting in the round, this stitch would be in the middle of the diagram. Then, work your way outward.

Is there an app to identify crochet stitches?

There are a few different apps that contain glossaries to help you identify crochet stitches. One such app is called Crochet Genius, which is available for iOS and android devices. This app shows you how to do basic stitches and provides you with a row counter to keep track of your project. It also has a number of patterns available for free in the app.

What do the numbers mean in a crochet pattern?

You may find several numbers in a line of a crochet pattern, so let’s break down an example. Let’s say you see this:

R12: [8sc, inc] x 5 (50)

R12 means that you’re on the 12th round or row. The 8 before the sc says that you’ll do eight single crochet. The 5 after the brackets tells you to repeat what’s in the brackets five times. And the 50 in the parentheses indicates the number of stitches you’ll have in your round or row once you’re done.

What do parentheses mean in crochet patterns?

Most often, parentheses suggest that you’ll do whatever is inside them in just one stitch rather than crocheting in one stitch and moving onto the next. However, some pattern creators use parentheses in different ways. Some use them in place of using brackets. Many pattern creators will also put the final number of stitches you should have in your round or row in parentheses at the end of each line.

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  • @JS and @Tonguetyd Thanks for your comments! We apologize that you were not able to find the app. We’ve since updated the app to one that’s available for download. We hope this helps make learning how to read crochet patterns easier and more accessible.

  • Hi, I can’t find Knitting and Crochet Helper on the iOS App Store. When I look up the exact title nothing pops up. Google was no help either. Please help me find this interesting app. Thanks!

  • Hi, I can’t find the Knitting and Crochet Helper app on the iOS App Store. When I search the exact title nothing pops up. Google was no help either. Where do I find this app? It looks useful. Thanks!


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