Monday, December 22, 2014

How to Read a Crochet Pattern

I remember the first time I tried to read a crochet pattern. It was a rather frustrating experience. What was/is it like for you? If you're teaching yourself to crochet, as so many folks are doing these days, you may find yourself attempting to read a crochet pattern with no one to guide you. Today I'd like to share some strategies for reading crochet patterns as a novice or beginner. Hopefully I can save you some time and frustration!

Learn the basic stitches.
Before we walk, we crawl. Before you learn to read a pattern it's best to be familiar with the most basic of crochet stitches: chain, slip stitch, single crochet, half double crochet, double crochet, and triple crochet. There are tutorials for all of these on blogs and YouTube. You could also purchase a beginning crochet book or check one out from the library. I recommend The Happy Hooker by Debbie Stoller. Make a few squares, potholders, and scarves out of the basic stitches until you get a good feel for your hook and yarn. Then you'll be able to tackle a pattern.

Be mindful during pattern selection.
When selecting a pattern be sure to select one that is accessible to you. That really awesome doily pattern might be tempting, but you're only going to make yourself miserable if you attempt something far beyond your skill level. Most patterns have a difficulty level listed, so try to find one labeled "1", "Easy", "Novice/Beginner", or similar. Ravelry is a great tool for finding patterns. You can save the difficult patterns for later as something to aspire to.

Become familiar with crochet abbreviations. 
Most patterns are written in short hand. You can find a list of the most common abbreviations here. Sometimes the designer will invent unique abbreviations just for their own pattern(s). If that is the case they should have a section explaining what they mean. Treat the abbreviations like a math problem. If you don't know what "sc" means, look it up. Move piece by piece until you understand each set of instructions. Remember, it's totally okay to pull out your work and start over!

Look at the entire pattern first.
Every pattern is different. Some will have pictures (mine do!) and charts to help you along and others won't. Some will be well written and others won't. It's best to read the whole pattern all the way through and get an idea of what you'll be doing before you begin. You should also pay attention to what yarn weight and hook size the pattern calls for. I think the best thing for a beginner to do is to bring the pattern with them to a yarn or craft store and have an attendant show them how to find the proper yarn and hook. That way you'll have that information for the future.

Dive in!
Once you're somewhat confident about your basic stitches and have looked through your pattern, go ahead and try it out! It's okay if it doesn't look perfect at first. If you get stuck, remember to treat the pattern like a math problem and patiently move bit by bit, one abbreviation at a time. Google is your friend! I promise that with some hard work you'll be easily reading crochet patterns in no time.

Have questions about reading crochet patterns? Please don't hesitate to ask them in the comments!

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