How to Read a Crochet Pattern

Once you’ve learned the basic crochet stitches, you’ll want to start your first pattern. (If you need assistance with learning basic crochet stitches, visit There are hundreds of beautiful designs available for you to make, but for a beginner, they may look scary because they are written in what looks almost like a foreign language.

That’s because crochet patterns are written using many abbreviations and terms, which save space and make patterns easier to read. So the first thing you need to do is become familiar with the abbreviations and terms.

Some of them are easy to understand, like these that represent basic stitches:

Basic Stitch Abbreviations
Sl st
slip stitch
single crochet
half double crochet
double crochet
Tr (or trc)
triple (or treble) crochet

Print these out and mount them on a card to keep handy while you work.

Terms represent things you are to do, like these:
increase (Add one or more stitches.)
decrease (Eliminate one or more stitches.)
Turn your work so you can work back for the next row.
Join two stitches together; usually done by working a slip stitch in the top of the next stitch.
repeat (Do it again.)
A complete list of crochet abbreviations and terms and their meaning can be found at:

Getting Started

With the abbreviations terms at hand, let’s look at a typical pattern. A pattern may be worked in rows (that is, back and forth to form a flat piece such as an afghan) or in rounds (worked around to form a tube with no seams, such as a hat).

Whatever way the pattern is to be worked, the very first thing you must do is make a slip knot on your hook. Does the pattern tell you this? No — it just assumes you know that!

Here is how to make a slip knot (See Figure 1 & 2). So with the slip knot now on your hook, you will make a foundation chain of a specified length, which the pattern will state. The number of chains you need may be stated before the first row, or in the first row, depending on the pattern writer.

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