First, I want to apologize for missing a month. I felt like I was losing my mind there a bit, so I took a break from pretty much everything. But, I’m back, so let’s get back to crocheting!
You can find crochet patterns virtually anywhere. There are books in craft stores, people sell their original patterns on Etsy, and there are loads of websites with catalogs of free or not so free patterns for your crocheting pleasure. Each yarn maker has patterns that they use their specific yarns for, which are available on their respective websites. In fact, there are so many patterns, it can be difficult to decide where to start. Luckily, patterns are written in the same language, well, as far as the actual crochet terms go. There is a slight variation between American patterns and British patterns. The big difference is that the two use different names for the same stitches, which I touched on briefly last month. British stitch names are one size bigger than American pattern readers will be used to. For example, in American crochet patterns, the basic stitch is called a single crochet, while the British patterns call this stitch a double crochet. The scale continues up from there. A chain stitch is the same in both pattern languages. So:
|American Crochet||British Crochet|
|Single crochet||Double crochet|
|Half double crochet||Half treble crochet|
|Double crochet||Treble crochet|
|Treble crochet||Double treble crochet|
|Double treble crochet||Triple treble crochet|
You’ll also need to know common stitch abbreviations. These are the most common stitches that can be found in almost any crochet pattern. There are a plethora of special stitches, and generally when one is included in a pattern, the abbreviation for it as well as how to make it are included at the beginning of the pattern.
Slip Stitch (sl st)
Half Double Crochet (HDC)
Double Treble (DTC)
Yarn Over (YO)
The best thing to do, when you are starting out, is to pick crochet patterns designed for beginners. Once you learn the language, it’s just like reading anything else. Lines of patterns are like sentences telling you what to do to make a project come to life. Generally speaking, patterns are arranged in either rows or rounds. Rows are worked such that at the end of each row, you actually turn the piece you are working on around. Rounds are worked just like they sound: in a circle with no turning. Let me show you what I mean.
If you were making say, a very basic wash cloth, you might find a pattern that looks something like this:
Chain 21. Turn.
Row 1: In second chain from hook, sc. SC in each stitch across. (20 stitches) Chain 1. Turn.
Row 2: SC in each stitch across (20 stitches). Chain 1. Turn.
Rows 3-20: Repeat row 2. (20 Stitches). Fasten off. Weave in ends. (I just picked a random number of rows. You would just keep going until you got a nice rectangle.)
BOOM! First project complete. Now, you may be wondering what the heck that all means. Remember those stitches I showed you last month? We’re going to use them. The first thing you’ll do is make 21 of those chain stitches, then turn your work around. Next, you’ll skip that chain closest to your hook. That’s because you always have to chain one before you start your next row. Now, you’ll make one of those single crochets in the second chain. So, you’ll stick your hook under that V of the chain stitch, wrap your yarn over the hook, and pull a loop through under the V. Wrap the yarn over your hook again, and pull that loop through both loops on your hook. Once single crochet complete. Continue those until you get to the end of your chains. That should give you 20 single crochet stitches. You’ll want to keep counting that number each row, just to make sure your piece stays a nice even rectangle. At the end of the row, you’ll chain one and turn the work again. Now you’re on row three, where you’ll just make single crochets in each stitch all the way across (this will be much easier than your first row in the chain stitches). At the end, chain one and turn your work. Continue adding rows until you’re happy with the overall look of the piece. To fasten off the piece (tie a knot) you’ll just cut your yarn about 3 inches from the end (don’t actually measure it, the exact length isn’t important), and pull tight. You’ll want to use either a blunt needle or a slightly smaller hook to sort of weave the end of your yarn into the stitches on the wrong side of your piece.
Here’s what I mean:
Weaving the end in
Now, that is a super simple, super easy pattern to read. Patterns all use the same language to tell you want to do. Just take it one line at a time, and you should have no problems at all. Pay attention to the beginning of a pattern. If there are any special stitches needed, they will be listed there, along with how to do them. What can sometimes look intimidating are patterns that also have a diagram. Diagrams look super scary, but the same rules apply. There will be a legend that tells you how to read it. Here is a simple diagram to show you what I mean:
This diagram is for a Granny Square, which is a simple stitch pattern that has a lot of uses in the crocheting world. I have seen everything from pillows and blankets to purses and even long sweaters made using the basic Granny Square technique. That picture should link to a post on Craftsy (which is a great source for all things crochet from patterns and blog posts to yarn and other supplies) that goes into greater detail discussing diagrams. Basically, the two different colors of rows denote between the right and wrong side of the piece. What that means, is that the right side is the side that will be facing out, and the wrong side is the back side. This is important because for the project to look as nice as possible, you weave in all your ends on the wrong side. The ovals are chain stitches, so you’ll make a chain everywhere there is an oval. Granny squares are made using double crochet stitches, so the tall Ts with a line crossing them denote where a double crochet stitch goes. This is the written pattern that goes with that diagram (from the same Craftsy blog):
Reading patterns (like everything worth doing) takes a bit of practice, but once you’ve got the language and the stitches down, you’ll be crocheting like a mad scientist. Trust me, I know.
If you have any questions or need additional help with anything ever, let me know. I’d be more than happy to try to figure it out with you.