wor·sted[woos-tid, wur-stid] noun 1. firmly twisted yarn or thread spun from combed, stapled wool fibers of the same length, for weaving, knitting, etc. Compare woolen. 2. wool cloth woven from such yarns, having a hard, smooth surface and no nap.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

So You Want to Crochet: How to Read a Pattern

This is one of the most basic things to learn.  If you don't know how to read a pattern, you will have a hard time learning how to crochet in the first place!  So lets start at the beginning.  When you first look at a pattern, it is going to tell you a few KEY things you will need to know:

Yarn Size

Here is a chart I really like that tells you all about the different sizes of yarn, what they are used for, and the suggested size of hook that you use.
Skill Level

Most patterns will tell you how difficult the pattern is.
Image from crochet-world.com
Crochet Hook Sizes:

Most patterns will tell you the size in metric AND U.S. Size Ranges.
Image from coatsandclark.com
The last and most important part about the pattern is the ability to read it!  If you are just beginning  you may want to print this post out and refer back to it as you start your first pattern!  The first time I looked at a pattern, I thought it was a foreign language!  It took me a while to really wrap my brain around around it.  Here is my BEST tip.  Take baby steps.  Just read a couple words at a time, crochet what it is asking you to, and then go to the next step.

Crocheting Abbreviations:

Click on any link for a brief explanation of each on LionBrand.com

approx = approximately
beg = begin(s)(ning)
bet = between
BO = bind off
bpdc = Back Post double crochet
btwn = between
care washing cleaning
CC = contrasting color
ch(s) = chain(s)
ch-space = space previously made
cn = cable needle
CO = cast on
cont = continu(e)(s)(ing)
dbl = double
dc = double crochet
dec = decreas(e)(s)(ing)
dpn(s) = double pointed needle(s)
dtr = double treble (triple) crochet
est = establish(ed)
ext = extension
foll = follow(s)(ing)
fpdc = front post double crochet
fpsc = front post single crochet
fptr = front post triple crochet
hdc = half double crochet
inc = increas(e)(s)(ing)
k = knit
k1b = knit 1 in the row below
k1b = knit through the back loop
k2tog = knit 2 together
k2togb = Knit 2 stitches together through back loop
k3tog = knit 3 together
k3togb = Knit 3 stitches together through back loop
Kfb = knit in front and back of st
lp st = loop stitch
lp(s) = loop(s)
M1 = make 1
M2 = make two
MC = main color
meas = measure(s)
ndl(s) = needle(s)
opp = opposite
p = purl
p1b = purl through the back loop
p2sso = pass 2 slipped sts over
p2tog = purl 2 together
p2togb = purl 2 together in back
p3tog = purl 3 together
pat = pattern
Pm = place marker
psso = pass slipped stitch over
PU = pick up
rem = remain(s)(ing)
rep = repeat(s)(ing)
rev = revers(e)(ing)
Rev St st = reverse stockinette stitch
rf = right front
RH = right hand
rnd(s) = round(s)
RS = right side
rsc = reverse single crochet
S2KP or S2KP2 = slip 2 stitches together, knit 1, pass two slip stitches over
sc = single crochet
sc2tog = single crochet 2 together
sc3tog = single crochet 3 together
sk = skip
sk2p = Slip 1, k2tog, pass sl st over
skp = slip 1, knit 1, pass slipped stitch over
sl = slip
sl st = slip stitch
slip1-k1-psso = slip 1, knit 1, pass slip stitch over
sm = slip marker
sp(s) = space(s)
sq(s) = square(s)
ssk = slip, slip, knit
St st = Stockinette stitch
st(s) = stitch(es)
t-ch = turning chain
tbl = through the back loop
tog = together
tr = treble (triple) crochet
work even
WS = wrong side
wyib = with yarn in back
wyif = with yarn in front
yo = yarn over
yrh = yarn over (yarn round hook)

Here are a few others:
[] -- work instructions within brackets as many times as directed
() -- work instructions within parentheses as many times as directed
* -- repeat the instructions following the single asterisk as directed
** -- repeat instructions between asterisks as many times as directed or repeat from a given set of instructions.
" -- inches
alt -- alternate

Last but not least:


This is one of the most misunderstood crocheting tools.  Mainly, because people, like me, get impatient and don't check it and most of the time the hat or whatever comes out the wrong size.  Everyone crochets differently, we hold our hooks different, our stitches are different sizes, etc.  The gauge is what we check so that we are working the same size as the author of the pattern.  For example:  Say the pattern tells you that the gauge is 12 dc = 4".  Well, this means that if you did 12 double crochets and measured them, then it should be 4 inches long.  If it is shorter, you may need to use a larger hook.  If it is bigger, than use a smaller hook, and work it out again to get closest to 4 inches as you can.

Here is was Lion Brands says about gauge:
Gauge is the term that is used to define the proper tension you should work to insure that the crocheted piece you make will be the right size when it's completed. The hook size listed in the pattern is just the size used by the designer to work at the proper gauge. You may need to change hook size in order to work at the given gauge. It is especially important to work to the proper gauge when making garments -- anything that you want to fit properly!

Gauge is usually defined in the pattern by a ratio of stitches and rows to a given measurement such as 16 stitches and 14 rows in single crochet = 4". You should always work a swatch of fabric (approximately 4" x 4") in the stitch pattern of the piece you are making. Then count the number of stitches and rows in the measurement designated by the gauge given in the pattern. If you find that your swatch has more stitches and rows than the gauge, you are working too tightly so change to a larger hook and try again. If you have fewer stitches and rows in the area, you are working too loosely and should try a smaller hook. Keep changing hook size until you arrive at the proper gauge.

Now, don't look at all this and get discouraged.  ALL of this isn't going to be in a single pattern!  This is only a guide to help you read one.  Let's look at an example.

Let's say we are going to make this Santa Hat from FaveCrafts.com:
Let's take a peek at the first part of the pattern:
Hat circumference at bottom edge: 20 (22)". (This is telling you the size)
Directions are for size Small/Medium; changes for size Large are in parentheses. 
RED HEART® “Holiday”: 1 Ball each 140 White/Silver A and 9090 Red/Red B. (This is the exact colors that they used, doesn't mean you have to.  This is also in it's way telling you the size.  Red Heart yarn is Worsted, Med, #4: so any other brands that size would do just as well)
Crochet Hook: 5mm [US H-8]. (We go by the H in the US)
Yarn needle. (A must have for weaving in loose ends)
Pompom maker. (I just use a tongue depressor or my hands)

GAUGE: 12 dc = 4”; 8 rounds = 4”. CHECK YOUR GAUGE. Use any size hook to obtain the gauge. (This is the same as the example above)

You can read the rest of the pattern here!

Then you begin!


Stay tuned this week with more beginning lessons in crocheting.

Coming soon:
How to chain and slip stitch, and do some other things.
How to Single Crochet
How to Double Crochet
And much, MUCH more!

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