How to read crochet patterns (+ chart)

Martingale's Knit and Crochet Friday


How to read crochet patterns

What’s one important part of mastering a new skill? Learning the lingo!

Understanding what the standard crochet abbreviations mean is one of the first steps you’ll take when learning how to crochet. Patterns generally use abbreviations to describe different crochet stitches to avoid making the instructions too lengthy.

Even if you’re a seasoned crocheter, you may get stuck from time to time on an obscure abbreviation in the pattern you’re working with. There are a lot of them, for goodness’ sake!

Whether you’re just learning or need a little refresher, here’s a handy reference for crochet terms and abbreviations:

Printable crochet chart
Chart from
A to Z of Crochet

Click here for a printable version of this chart.

For more information about reading crochet charts and patterns as well as tips for basic to advanced methods, fixing mistakes, and finding the answers to almost any crochet question, check out A to Z of Crochet at ShopMartingale.com.


Which are you most comfortable with: a chart or a written pattern? Tell us in the comments!


32 Comments (leave a comment)

  • Definitely written instructions. It is much easier to keep my place and a correct stitch count and the pattern repeat for each row, especially when crocheting, or knitting, a intricate pattern. I am willing to pay more for row by row written instructions over a draft.

    Graphs are ok when the pattern is super simple

    —D Baldwin on March 20, 2015
  • I prefer written, but sometimes use both.

    Carolyn Thibodaux on March 20, 2015
  • I am most comfortable with a written pattern.
    But, if it is complicated it does help to have a pattern chart to refer to as well.

    —lisa on March 20, 2015
  • I will follow the remarks of the previous gals. I agree with both. Thanks you PGH

    —Patricia G Hayes on March 20, 2015
  • Wish I could just copy the chart into a MSWord document; don’t really need to print it.

    Hi Diane, as an alternative you can simply save the pdf to your computer and access it whenever you like, without ever having to print it. –Jenny

    —Diane DeSante on March 20, 2015
  • In order to completely understand the directions, I really like to have both the written & charted instructions. Anytime one can get different angles of ideas, one learns more completely.

    Dorothy Dishman on March 20, 2015
  • I LOVE charts!!! They are so much easier to follow than wading through long complicated instructions. You can just glance at them and find your place. The chart looks just like what you are trying to crochet! If I’m looking at patterns for lace, I sometimes won’t buy it if it isn’t charted. It does help, though, if there is some explanation to go with the chart.

    —Linda on March 20, 2015
  • I learned to crochet from my mom and grandma with a pattern. I have no idea how to read the charts.

    —Vicki H on March 20, 2015
  • Can whiz through the written instructions, but the charts give me fits and starts. Keep getting lost, and very frustrated when using a chart. Now avoid them whenever possible.

    —Sheila D on March 20, 2015
  • I like written because I learned years ago to read them Now I don’t see the the other s as well . Eyesights not as it was and those crosses and things are hard not to blend together.

    —Gail Pennington on March 20, 2015
  • written

    —Vicky on March 20, 2015
  • I like the chart Stitch explaining the abbreviations. Sometimes when the pattern does not the explanation, I am confuse what the abbreviation means. I do know some of simple abbreviations, but I do not know all of them. Thank you for the free chart.

    Marcia on March 20, 2015
  • Thank you very much for the free abbreviation chart. I like the written instructions. I have problems with the charts. They blend all together for me.

    —Wendy on March 20, 2015
  • I like the written pattern. I can see it better and understand it better. Thanks for asking

    —Rose Dotson on March 20, 2015
  • I am more comfortable with the written instructions as that is the way I first learned to crochet. I can understand the chart but sometimes have to look at reference to be that I am using correct stitch.

    —Donna Rothacher on March 20, 2015
  • I’m getting more comfortable with charts but still prefer written instructions when possible. When my eyes get tired later in the day I follow written words better than symbols and abbreviations. Thanks for the chart.

    —Jane on March 20, 2015
  • The charts are definitely the easiest of all. I miss Magic Crochet magazines which had fantastic charts.

    —Maggie R on March 20, 2015
  • I prefer written patterns. I find them much easier to follow. Thank you for publishing this chart.

    —Schuyler on March 20, 2015
  • Written pattern, always. It does help to have a good photo of the finished project.
    The only useful charts for me are those used with filet crochet.

    —Lynne on March 20, 2015
  • The first time I try a new method I like a narrative format or a pattern. After that, a chart is very handy!

    —Tammy in NC on March 20, 2015
  • I prefer written instructions. I cannot read a chart pattern

    —Donna Moore on March 20, 2015
  • I like the pattern written out. If you mean written with abbreviations, that’s fine. If you mean charting a diagram of the project, no so much.

    —Marguerite Namdar on March 20, 2015
  • I find written better as I find it difficult to understand charts being 65 yrs

    —Maxine on March 20, 2015
  • I’m a beginner, but challenge myself with hard projects. The only chart I’ve used was with Fillet crochet. Otherwise, they are all written instructions and the stitches used are always described in full.

    —Ann Barlament on March 20, 2015
  • chart or written pattern… written pattern, but really prefer video

    —tess on March 20, 2015
  • I started using charts many years ago when I made doilies, and I love them. The weird part is I have trouble with knitting charts and prefer written instructions in knitting patterns.

    —Jean HS on March 21, 2015
  • i use the chart. With the chart I can see the pattern and written words are a puzzle to me. I understand the abbreviations but what I really like is an video. I am a visual learner, videos are amazingly clear.

    —Bonnie on March 21, 2015
  • Charts are nice, but I prefer written patterns. Videos are especially helpful for very complicated stitches. However, a picture within the written pattern showing the different steps with directions underneath is just as helpful, especially when traveling and a DVD player is not handy.

    —Karen on March 21, 2015
  • I have crocheted from both printed instructions and charts. If the pattern contains something other than just repeated strips, (such as a teddy in the middle), I prefer a chart for the added teddy bear. It makes it easy for me.

    Now, I’m 80 yrs. old, I generally do mostly easy patterns from printed instructions. The hardest one I ever crocheted was a long time ago. It was a baby blanket with a circus merry-go-round in the center, with the whole thing, horses and all. It was beautiful. I’ve since lost the pattern but I really enjoyed doing that one. It took a long tome and my daughter-in-law loved it. everyone who saw it wanted the pattern.

    —Dawn K. Wills on March 21, 2015
  • I prefer a pattern – that is what I’m familiar with. Have only TRIED a chart once and got myself so confused……

    —Kerry on March 23, 2015
  • Much much much prefer written instructions!!!!!

    —Sheryl on March 30, 2015
  • I have a pattern with a graph and written directions for the first few rows. But, when I look at the graph, it is different than the written directions. Which one do I follow. HELP.

    Hi Patti, are you working from a Martingale pattern? Give us a call at 1-800-426-3126 and we’ll see if we can help. –Jenny

    —Patti on May 22, 2018

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