Normally, crochet patterns will look like they are told in gibberish to the novice. Stitches are abbreviated and there are unique terminologies being used. However, it will all make sense to you once you get into the craft and start being more deliberate about learning crochet lingo. The good news is that there are several crochet glossaries you can check for reference and a lot of them are even explained in detail by many crochet experts who also share their own designs and tips in books or in their blogs.
When it comes to reading patterns, the first thing you have to know is whether it should be worked in rows, rounds or both. As a beginner, it is important to choose the kind of pattern that suits you best and is appropriate for your skill level. Selecting an entry-level pattern will normally ease you into the jargons used by the world of crochet. In other words, it will serve as your introductory crash course to help you familiarize yourself. So don’t overwhelm yourself with advanced patterns just yet. Aside from the abbreviations, you will also find asterisks and brackets in a crochet pattern. Rather than writing the steps repeatedly from time to time, most patterns make use of asterisks to indicate the repeats needed. Brackets, on the other hand, are used to enclose a certain series of stitches you need to do. The number following the brackets indicates how many times you have to repeat the stitches enclosed in the bracket.
One common terminology used in crochet is to “continue around”. You will most likely stumble upon this term when you are working in circles, spirals, ovals and the like. Other spiral patterns will require you to join the beginning and end of each round. Joining the round means you have to end the row or round by slip stitching to the first stitch of that round. When the pattern states that you should “continue around” though, this means that you need to continue your next round or row by working in the round before that without a stop or start stitch in place. Basically, “joining the round” means you are ending your row using a stitch while “continuing around” means you do not end your row at all. So if the pattern states you need to “continue around” on the next 5 rows, and join the last stitch to turning chain with a slip stitch, what you need to do is stitch 5 rows of the same stitch that’s required of you before you join the ends with a slip stitch.
Another term that is often used and misunderstood is “work even”. It is vague and can hold a lot of different meanings when you are left to your own devices to interpret it. Unfortunately, its meaning is highly dependent on the context of when it’s being used. An example of which is when the instruction tells you that you’re supposed to work even in a crochet stitch. This means that you need to complete the number of rows indicated without any increase or decrease in the number of stitches you are making. If the pattern tells you to work even for the next row, it means that if you did 15 stitches for the previous row, you will need to do the same on the next row where you need to work even.
Normally, you will encounter the term “work even” when you are working in the round. When you crochet circles, you will generally have to increase the number of stitches per round up to a certain point to make the circle bigger. And when you no longer need to increase the size of the project, you will find the term work even. Other times, you will also need to decrease the number of stitches you are doing and when you no longer need to do so, the pattern will tell you to work even. Basically, when the pattern calls for you to stop the increase or decrease of the stitches, it will indicate that you need to work even. When it says that, all you need to do is to take note of the number of stitches you did on the last row and do the same number on the next row.
Sometimes, you can’t help but be confused as to which stitch you need to use. As a general rule, you need to follow the stitch and the number of stitches you did on the last row you completed. However, there are patterns that will state otherwise. If it says, work even using single crochet, what this means is to simply use the single crochet stitch this time but in exactly the same number of times you’ve done so for the previous row you’ve completed.
These are only a few of the terminologies you will encounter as you go on your adventure in the world of crochet. But as with everything you take up, it’s always the first time that will be the biggest challenge of all. Instead of feeling stressed and getting overwhelmed, take a few rounds of deep breaths and read your pattern thoroughly before you even pick up your yarn and needle. You will soon find that it’s not that hard to decipher what those cryptic words mean.
Should you stumble upon something that seems like it’s about to wreck your brain open, take comfort in the fact that there are a number of forums that can help you out with what you don’t understand. You can even phone your grandma for some help if you like. Remember, there is a big crochet community all over the world and there is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking help.