How to Read Crochet Patterns: Symbol, Written & Diagram Form

Last Updated on December 31, 2023

In today’s tutorial, we’ll look at reading crochet patterns in both written and diagram form. I’m Melinda, your guide with TheSewingStuffs, and by the end of this tutorial, you’ll confidently navigate basic crochet stitches such as chains, slip stitches, single crochet, half double crochet, and double crochet.

Whether you prefer written instructions or visual diagrams, we’ve got you covered.

Let’s dive into the fascinating world of crochet patterns!

How to Read Crochet Patterns


  • Learn and recognize basic crochet stitches—chains, slip stitches, single crochet, half double crochet, and double crochet—with their unique abbreviations and symbols.
  • Understand written instructions and diagrams by associating symbols with specific stitches, ensuring a seamless transition from pattern to crochet work.
  • Crochet diagrams serve as visual roadmaps, guiding you through each row and stitch placement and enhancing your overall pattern comprehension.
  • Apply your knowledge to real projects, like the Crumpled Griddle Stitch, reinforcing your ability to read and execute crochet patterns effectively.

Additional Resources – 13 Different Basic Crochet Stitches for Beginner

How to Read Crochet Patterns

To read crochet patterns, understand basic stitch abbreviations and symbols, follow written instructions or visual diagrams, and practice decoding patterns by applying learned stitches to create cohesive projects.

Understanding Basic Stitches

Before understanding crochet patterns, let’s quickly recap the basic stitches we’ll encounter: Chains, slip stitches, single crochet, half double crochet, and double crochet.

Each stitch has a unique abbreviation, symbol, and appearance, making it easier for you to connect the dots between the written instructions and the actual crochet work. Let’s get deeper into each basic stitch:

Chain Stitch (CH):

Chain Stitch (CH)
Chain Stitch (CH)
  • Symbol: V-shaped chains
  • Appearance: Formed by creating a series of interconnected V shapes.
  • Function: Serves as the starting point for nearly all crochet projects, creating a foundational chain that subsequent stitches build upon.

Slip Stitch (SL ST):

Slip Stitch (SL ST):
Slip Stitch (SL ST)
  • Symbol: Circle
  • Appearance: Executed by inserting the hook into a stitch, yarn over, and pulling the yarn through both the loop on the crochet hook and the loop in the stitch.
  • Function: Primarily used for joining rounds, creating closures, or moving the yarn within a row.

Single Crochet (SC):

Single Crochet (SC)
Single Crochet (SC)
  • Symbol: Plus sign (+)
  • Appearance: Achieved by inserting the hook into a stitch, yarn over, pull up a loop, yarn over, and pull through both loops.
  • Function: Creates a tight and dense fabric, making it suitable for projects requiring structure and stability.

Half Double Crochet (HDC):

Half Double Crochet (HDC)
Half Double Crochet (HDC)
  • Symbol: “T”
  • Appearance: Completed by yarning over, inserting the hook, yarning over again, pulling up a loop, yarning over, and pulling through all three loops.
  • Function: Strikes a balance between the density of single crochet and the height of double crochet, providing versatility in texture and drape.

Double Crochet (DC):

Double Crochet (DC)
Double Crochet (DC)
  • Symbol: Tall “T”
  • Appearance: Involves yarning over, inserting the hook, yarning over again, pulling up a loop, yarning over, pulling through the first two loops, and then yarning over and pulling through the remaining two loops.
  • Function: Known for its height, double crochet is frequently used in open and airy designs, adding a touch of elegance to the fabric.

Reading Crochet Patterns – Written Form:

How to Read Crochet Patterns

Now, let’s look at how to decipher crochet patterns from written instructions.  Using a simple example pattern, we’ll break down each step to understand the language of crochet patterns.

Example Pattern:

“Chain a multiple of two stitches plus one.”

Row 1:

  • Turn your work: This indicates changing the direction of your crochet piece to begin the next row.
  • Chain 2: Create two chain stitches.
  • Double crochet in the first chain: Insert your hook into the first chain and perform a double crochet.
  • Skip 1 chain, chain 1: Skip the next chain, then create one chain stitch.
  • Double crochet in the next space: Perform a double crochet in the subsequent chain space.
  • Repeat: Continue the sequence of skipping, chaining, and double crocheting across the row.

Row 2:

  • Turn your work: Change the direction of your crochet piece for the next row.
  • Chain 2: Start the row with two chain stitches.
  • Double crochet on top of the last double crochet: Place a double crochet directly on the last double crochet from the previous row.
  • Skip 1 chain, chain 1: Skip a chain, then create one chain stitch.
  • Double crochet on top of double crochet: Repeat the process of double crocheting on the previous double crochet.
  • Repeat: Continue this sequence across the row.

Repeat Row 2 for subsequent rows

The repetition of Row 2 establishes the pattern, and you continue this sequence for additional rows.

Understanding Pattern Components:

  • Turn Your Work: This instruction signifies flipping your project to work on the opposite side.
  • Chain X: Indicates the number of chain stitches to create at the beginning of a row.
  • Double Crochet (DC): Insert your hook, yarn over, pull through, yarn over, pull through the first two loops, yarn over, pull through the last two loops.
  • Skip X Chains: Skip a specified number of chain stitches before executing the next stitch.
  • Chain X: Create a certain number of chain stitches as part of the pattern sequence.
  • Repeat: Highlights a specific sequence of stitches or actions to be replicated across the row.

Reading Crochet Patterns – Diagram Form:

How to Read Crochet Patterns

For those who find visual aids more intuitive, crochet diagrams provide a comprehensive roadmap. Let’s apply the same pattern example to understand how diagrams represent the stitches visually.

Diagram for Row 1:

  • Red dot indicates the starting point.
  • Open ovals represent chain stitches.
  • Arrows guide the direction of the stitches.
  • Plus signs and other symbols denote different stitches.

Diagram for Row 2:

  • Number 2 with an arrow indicates the direction and repetition of Row 2.
  • Chains, double crochets, and skips are visually represented.
  • Diagrams maintain alignment, aiding stitch placement.

Applying Understanding to a Pattern

Let’s apply the acquired knowledge to a practical example—the Crumpled Griddle Stitch to solidify our understanding. The written instructions guide us through each row, while the diagram visually reinforces the steps. By repeating the established patterns, you’ll create a cohesive and visually appealing crochet piece.


How do I determine the number of chains needed in the foundation row?

Check the written instructions for guidance. Phrases like “chain a multiple of two stitches plus one” provide a formula. In this example, it means your foundation chain should be an even number of stitches plus one.

 What does “turn your work” mean in crochet patterns?

“Turn your work” instructs you to flip your crochet piece so that you can continue working in the opposite direction. This is common when moving from one row to the next.

Why are symbols used in crochet patterns, and how do I interpret them?

Symbols in crochet patterns provide a visual representation of each stitch. For example, a plus sign (+) might represent a single crochet. Refer to the key or legend provided in the pattern to interpret the symbols.

Can I mix and match stitches in a pattern or follow it exactly?

While experienced crocheters may modify patterns, especially for advanced projects, beginners should follow the pattern as written. This ensures a successful outcome and helps build foundational skills.

How do I know if I’ve mistakenly followed a crochet pattern?

Regularly compare your work to the written instructions and diagrams. You’re on the right track if your stitches align with the prescribed pattern. Counting stitches and rows can also help identify errors.

What if my foundation row doesn’t meet the pattern’s requirements?

Adjust the number of chains accordingly if your foundation row doesn’t align with the pattern (e.g., not a multiple of two plus one). Adding or removing chains before starting the pattern can ensure it works correctly.

Why is it important to understand both written and diagram instructions?

Understanding both written and diagram instructions enhances your flexibility as a crocheter. Some patterns provide one or the other, and having proficiency in both allows you to tackle a wide range of projects.

How do I transition from one row to the next in crochet patterns?

Instructions such as “turn your work” and “chain” guide you through transitioning from one row to the next. Following these instructions ensures a smooth and cohesive progression in your crochet project.

What’s the best way to practice reading crochet patterns?

 Start with simple patterns and gradually move to more complex ones as your confidence grows. Practice both written and diagram patterns to reinforce your understanding. Online tutorials and crochet-along projects can also be valuable resources.


This detailed exploration sets the stage for confidently tackling various beginner-friendly crochet projects. Don’t hesitate to seek assistance if any questions arise or clarification is needed. Now, armed with the crochet language, let your creativity flow through the rhythmic motion of your hook. Happy crocheting!

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