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How to read a written crochet pattern – difficult crochet rows explained

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I really don’t understand this row!!!! I don’t know how to read a crochet pattern!!

That’s something I’ve seen many times already. Many people don’t know how to read crochet patterns. And that’s ok! We’ve all been in that situation at some point. More than once I’m sure. It’s why I made this tutorial. To explain to you how to read a crochet pattern.

First up: always read the explanation about the pattern before you start! You want to know what materials you need. What the abbreviations mean.

You want to know if you are allowed to sell the finished product. You don’t want to get in trouble with the designer after all. Copyright infringement law suits are terribly expensive so always read that part. Just to be sure of what is allowed and what not…

About the yarn needed: a pattern may or may not tell you how much you’ll need. It’s nicer when the pattern tells you how much you need. But you may end up needing more than what the pattern tells you you’ll need. So never get the exact amount the pattern tells you to get. You probably think “well, I can just go get more yarn if I run out”. That’s a risk because the same color of the same brand could be slightly different in color if it’s not from the same batch. So it’s best to just get a bit more.

The symbols: Make sure you always pay attention to the symbols used. It’s really important that you do. Not noticing a comma = yikes, that could go very wrong!!! And not just a little…

Abbreviations of the basic stitches: (click on each stitch to go to the tutorial for that stitch. The tutorial for each includes a written tutorial with pictures and a video)

Okay, now it’s time to start explaining how to read the rows. I have made you a bunch of row examples but remember that every designer has his/her own way of writing patterns. So it might be slightly different in the pattern of a different designer.

Most patterns will have a number like this one (10) or an alone standing number like …….10. That is most often the total amount of stitches you should have after you have made that particular row. Always check after every row to see if your amount of stitches matches this number!

Row example 1:

Row 1: 15sc = 1sc, 1sc, 1sc, 1sc, 1sc, 1sc, 1sc, 1sc, 1sc, 1sc, 1sc, 1sc, 1sc, 1sc, 1sc

So literally just 15 times 1 single crochet. 1 per stitch. Not 15 single crochet crammed all in 1 single stitch!! That would go disastrously wrong.

Row example 2:

Row 2: 10sc, inc = 1sc, 1sc, 1sc, 1sc, 1sc, 1sc, 1sc, 1sc, 1sc, 1sc, inc

So that’s first 10 times 1 single crochet and then after that you make an increase in the stitch that comes after the 10 you just made.

Row example 3:

Row 3: 1sc in each stitch = this one is literally what it says = 1 single crochet in each stitch of the previous row. If you’re previous row had 30 stitches for example, that means you now need to make 30 single crochet.

Row example 4:

Row 4: 5sc, ch1 and turn = 1sc, 1sc, 1sc, 1sc, 1sc, ch1 and turn your work

If you have stitches left after you have made these 5, the pattern will usually say something like “leave the rest of the stitches unworked”. That means if you have stitches left over after you made the 5 you’re told to make, you just leave those stitches alone. Don’t use them. Just turn your work like the pattern says, and make the next row.

Row example 5:

Row 5: in front loops only: 7sc, inc = 1sc, 1sc, 1sc, 1sc, 1sc, 1sc, 1sc, inc and do this in the front loops only!

It’s very important that you work in the front loops only when the pattern tells you to do so. Sometimes it’s only for a decorative purpose but most often you’ll be needing the back loops later on. If for instance you made this row in both loops and you need the back loops later, you’ll be stuck. You’ll have to start all over. You don’t want that I’m sure, so work in front loops only if the patterns tells you so.

Row example 6:

Row 6: 4sc, dec, 8sc, dec, 4sc = 1sc, 1sc, 1sc, 1sc, make a decrease, 1sc, 1sc, 1sc, 1sc, 1sc, 1sc, 1sc, 1sc, make a decrease, 1sc, 1sc, 1sc, 1sc

For a row like this one it’s very very important that you pay attention to the comma’s. If you don’t pay attention to the comma’s, it could go wrong very quickly.

Now that you already know the basics, you can start with the more confusing rows. As you can see below, they’re actually quite simple. As long as you pay attention to the comma’s and **, you’ll be just fine. If you’re still worried about making mistakes, I suggest you write each row down like in the examples below.

Note: some designers will use ( ) instead of * * . But the basics of it is the same.

Row example 7:
Row example 8:

In this row it’s VERY important that you DO NOT leave out the second “2sc” that is between the * *. If you were to leave this second one out, it won’t end well. DO NOT do: 2sc, inc, 2sc, inc, 2sc, inc, … That is NOT the same as *2sc, inc, 2sc, 2sc, inc, 2sc, 2sc, inc, 2sc, …*

With this way of writing the row, you can avoid having a circle turn into a hexagon. It also prevents a less than pretty, visible increase line on your work.

Row example 9:

Again, here you really have to pay attention to comma’s and * *. Don’t worry, you’ll be just find if you pay attention.

Row example 10:

This is a bit of a difficult one if you have never seen this one before. It’s important that you do this one step by step.

In my Craftygenesindonesia patterns these long and confusing rows are written in steps. Makes it easier to read.

Some designers will write the whole thing in 1 loooooong sentence. (this is because writing it down in 1 long sentence reduces the amount of pages the pattern will be). Do not panic when you come across such a row. Just write each part between the comma’s on a paper. Write it down in steps like I did and you’ll be just fine.

If you still have questions or you come across a row in one of my Craftygenesindonesia patterns that you just don’t understand, feel free to message me. You can do this here.
You may also message me in Facebook messenger ( you find me in my Facebook group Amigurumi Heaven ) or in Whatsapp. Click on the Whatsapp icon in the righthand corner on the bottom of the screen. This will take you to my Whatsapp number. Keep in mind that there may be a time difference. I might not be awake and then I also won’t respond immediately of course. (my phone is on silent at night so your message will not wake me up).

I hope this tutorial has helped you understand how to read crochet patterns! Have lots of fun with your crochet projects!

Sofie Julien Versluys
Sofie Julien Versluys

Was born in Belgium but moved to Indonesia as a child. Have been living here ever since. I absolutely LOVE crochet and knitting. I made this blog to help others get to the same level as me. And to make sure people have a place to come to with questions. Even the very beginner questions. Go ahead and ask me!

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