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How To Read Crochet Patterns: Abbreviations, Symbols and Instructions Explained

How To Read Crochet Patterns: Abbreviations, Symbols and Instructions Explained

If you’ve been teaching yourself crochet (or you’re keen to start) and you’re getting to grips with how to hold your crochet hook… but can’t make head nor tail of a crochet pattern, then we’re here to help! Check out our handy guide on how to read crochet patterns below, and discover exactly what all those abbreviations and symbols mean, why we use them, and how you can translate them into an easy-to-follow set of instructions for your next crochet project!

How to read crochet patterns header image

Whilst a crochet pattern may look incredibly daunting the first time you lay eyes on it, once you’ve got to grips with what each abbreviation and symbol actually means, you’ll get to grips with how to read crochet patterns in no time!

Heart-shaped crochet project image

First up is a handy list of all the common abbreviations you’re likely to encounter on your crochet adventure, alongside what they actually mean…

How to Read Crochet Abbreviations:


Abbreviation Meaning
approx. approximately
beg begin(ning)
bet between
blp back loop only
BP back post
CC contrast colour
ch chain stitch
dc double crochet
dec decrease(s)(d)(ing)
dtr double treble crochet
flp front loop only
foll follow(ing)
FP front post
hdc half double crochet
inc increase(s)(d)(ing)
MC main colour
pat pattern
rem remaining
rep repeat
rib ribbing
RS right side
sc single crochet
sl st slip stitch
st(s) stitch(es)
tog together
tr treble crochet
WS wrong side
yo yarn over hook

Set of crochet hooks image

How to Read Crochet Pattern Symbols:

That’s right, as wells as abbreviations, there are also symbols commonly used in crochet patterns that you’ll need to wrap your head around too! These symbols provide the pattern creator with an easy way to deliver special instructions without having to write these out longhand, and once you commit them to memory, deciphering crochet patterns will become second nature – we promise!

Check out the symbols below along with the instruction they actually represent…

( )

Parentheses are used to indicate repetitiveness in an action or a stitch, meaning that if you come across one, you should repeat it in succession in the stated number of times (the number directly following it). Alternatively, a pattern could use them to signify a group of directions that are all worked in one specific stitch.

[ ]

Square brackets also indicate repetition in a stitch pattern, often working in correspondence with parentheses. Alternatively, they can be used to clarify information.

{ }

Braces are again used as an indication to repeat instructions – often ones worked within another set of bracketed directions.

* • ♦ †

Asterisks, bullet points, diamonds, plus signs and other special characters are usually there to instruct you to repeat a series of crochet stitches.

Crochet circle image

How To Read Crochet Chart Symbols:

You mean there are more symbols? Afraid so! As well as written instructions, your pattern will more than likely also include a chart. You’ll be pleased to hear that the symbols used in this chart are a little easier to read – phew! Check out this simple chart key for a quick and easy low-down on the most essential symbols you need to know as a beginner:

The starting point of your design will be clearly represented with a black triangle or similar, usually followed by a foundation row of chain stitches. The chart will show you the stitches row-by-row (if working in rows instead of rounds) – so you simply need to follow them in the displayed order!

Crochet Projects…

Now you’ve got the hang of reading crochet patterns, why not have a look at some of the free crochet patterns you can try out on our blog?

Crochet Water Balloons:

How to make crochet water balloons project header image

We think these fabulous crochet water balloons are the perfect way to battle any summer heatwave – simply soak them in cold water, take aim and THROW! As well as providing plenty of fun in the sun, they’re also good for the planet, since there’s no rubber balloon waste!

Crochet Unicorn Blanket:

How to make crochet unicorn blanket project header image

This adorable unicorn blanket is bang on-trend at the moment – as a nation, we simply can’t get enough of unicorns! So if there’s a unicorn-lover in your life, why not get started on creating them a magical gift that’s just perfect for snuggling up in in the winter months? This pattern can be modified to crochet a blanket suitable for all sizes – you could create more than one!

Keen to get started on your next crochet project? Stock up on crochet essentials right here, and you’ll be ready to tackle the next crochet pattern that comes your way!

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