Thursday, 6 August 2015

How to read my patterns

This blog post is especially for some of the ladies on the Love Crochet CAL Facebook Group
I have chatted to many ladies at wool shows over the years, many have said they can't follow crochet patterns, so this post is also for them.
Although hopefully it will be of some use to everyone :-)

I've just started to use a very specific format for my patterns, I write them long hand, instead of abbreviating them into long lines of symbols and numbers, so they can seem a bit long winded and basic for the experienced crocheters who have been using patterns all their crochet lifes.
The reason I write them long hand is because sadly crochet has always been thought of as something you do with your left over scraps of yarn from knitting projects and that granny squares are the only motif out there.
However things are changing, there are some fabulous crochet designers and so more and more new crocheters are learning the basics from YouTube and crochet workshops are popping up in shops all over the place.
This has lead to a huge number of newbies, many of whom struggle to read the traditionally written patterns. I want to encourage them to have the confidence to explore the world of crochet.

My patterns are written as logical as I can make them, so here is my explanation.
I am using the Sky motif from the Love Crochet Summer CAL as an example, you can find the pattern HERE
I normally start of with a photo of a finished motif, so you can see what your finished motif should look like.
I used to include step by step photo's of each round and am in 2 minds as to whether I need to start including the photos again, if you would like to see me using them again, please let me know :-)

Then I add a chart of the motif pattern, which can be a bit scary, but the chart is just a drawing of the motif. Each stitch has its own symbol and I always include a key, plus the American translation for crocheters who are used to reading American term patterns.
I normally use the colours of the finished motif, which should make it easy to compare it with the photo.

Then comes the written pattern.
I write the pattern for one side of each round, always starting in the corner and working across to the next corner.
So for a square you need to crochet the pattern four times, a hexagon six times and a triangle three times, until you reach the beginning corner.
Each round starts with set of chain stitches, which are the equivalent height of the stitch it is replacing.
For example an htr (hdc) stitch is 2 chain, the 2 chain is only used for the first side of the motif, the remaining sides first stitches are all crocheted with the actual stitch.
I always crochet into the gaps between the stitches, rather than the stitches themselves, I've always done it as it is the way I was taught to crochet.
Below is the Sky motif chart with round 4 coloured blue, I have shaded the starting side of the pattern so you can see what the written instruction refer to.
And below the chart it is the written instructions for round 4, this should help you understand how the pattern works

Round 4
Join into 2 ch corner space from round 3, 
*2 ch (counts as 1 htr), 1 htr, 3 ch, miss 3 gaps between sts
In next gap - 1 htr,
in next gap - 1 tr
In next gap - 1 htr, 2 ch, miss 1 space
in next 2 ch space, 1 dc, 1 ch, 1 dc, 2 ch, miss 1 space
In next gap - 1 htr,
in next gap - 1 tr
In next gap - 1 htr, 3 ch,  miss 3 spaces
in next 2 ch corner space - 2 htr, 2 ch*
Repeat * to * 3 more times.
Join to the top of the starting 2 ch with a sl st. 
Break yarn and fasten off.

Incidentally I've edited the pattern slightly from the original to change some of the "spaces" to read "gaps", as I'm still developing the format.
Since this pattern was written I have decided to use the word gap for the space between 2 stitches and the word space for spaces made with chain stitches.

And finally each of my patterns has a layout chart, some have key's to help you understand which motif should go where.
However the Love Crochet Summer CAL charts are actual photographs of the motifs, which should be easily recognisable.
Below is the small version of Layout 1

I hope this blog post helps those who are struggling and explains the format to those who are used to the traditional format.


  1. I think the first thing I ever successfully crocheted was one of your motifs. Previous attempts had turned into a knotty snarl as to start with I couldn't properly see the stitches and your instructions to crochet into the gaps or spaces was something of a revelation! I find your instructions nice and easy to follow (although I accept that might in part be because they were also the first instructions I could actually follow) - so thank you :)

  2. Amanda, thank you for talking about this. I'm not on the facebook group, but I can't understand the instructions of the first Gold row of the Sky motif. I really do think that photos of the tricky parts would be extremely helpful! Thank you! Sandra

    1. Hi Sandra

      Can you let me know which bit of the gold row you don't understand?
      I'd like to write a troubleshooting blog post so need as many details as possible :-)

      Thank you Amanda

  3. This is my first pattern with UK terms and I confused myself, until made myself read the pattern first and check a chart with both UK and US symbols. First motif done, looks great but a little small at just 4 inches, I will probably go up a hook size. Thank you for all your work.

  4. Very useful. I think the way you are using the words gap and space is very logical. I have taught people to crochet but it's harder to teach them to read a pattern. I think the more experience you get with actually crocheting, the pattern reading starts to develop.

  5. Yay, and skippety-skip. Thank you Amanda.

  6. Hello,
    I am currently working on the Summer CAL blanket, I have only just had time to really get going! I have come to round 4 of the Azure motif and the second instruction reads: ‘in next two 2 chain space – 1 sl st, 1 ch’ however I only have one 2 chain space and I don’t know where the other 2 chain space has come from! Is there supposed to be two 2 chain spaces?

    1. Hi Evie
      It should read 1 ch space, there is a error in the pattern, but the chart is right.

      Best wishes