Taking The Pain Out Of Reading Patterns – Crochet Abbreviations

Many crocheters learn the craft from a family member or friend.  If you are like me, learning how to read an actual crochet pattern wasn’t part of the lessons. I am pretty much self-taught to read patterns so I can completely understand the frustration most people have when it comes to reading a pattern. And there is a lot that books and even classes don’t always tell you. So in this series of articles, I am going to teach you some of the basics:
  1. know what all those crochet abbreviations are
  2. how crochet patterns are structured
  3. what the crochet symbols mean
  4. how to break down the crochet pattern into understandable pieces

I am going to break this up into bite-sized chunks. Today we are going to talk about Crochet Abbreviations.

What are Crochet Abbreviations?

Crochet patterns are written in a special language, full of abbreviations, asterisks, parentheses, and other symbols and terms. Each designer, publisher, and magazine seems to have a different set of crochet abbreviations that in some cases seem to be inconsistent with each other. This is very confusing to a crocheter, especially new crocheters. However, over the last 15-20 years, the Craft Yarn Council has been working on a standardized list of crochet abbreviations. Not everyone has adopted them so it is really important that when you are starting a new pattern, that you read through it and use the crochet abbreviations key that is included in the pattern.

Caveat: Not all designers include the crochet abbreviations. You will usually see this in non-tech edited, free patterns.  This is a subject I will cover in the future. However, I will say that in this case, proceed with caution when using free patterns, especially if you are a new crocheter.

Why Do We Use Crochet Abbreviations?

The reason we use crochet abbreviations is to save space in patterns.  Back when the only way to get a pattern was in printed books and magazines, or if designer printed and sold the patterns before the days of PDFs, we had to find a way to make patterns economical. Now that we are in the age of PDFs and other digital ways to store patterns, the cost isn’t as big of a factor for most patterns.  However, because we have been using these abbreviations for 100+ years, it has become engrained in our crochet culture to use them, so designers still do.  Besides that, our culture, in general, has found ways to shorten a lot of words due to social media and texting (brb anyone?) so I don’t believe that crochet abbreviations are going anywhere soon.

Standard Crochet Abbreviations

The following is a list of crocheting abbreviations used by crochet designers and publishers and adopted for the Craft Yarn Council’s Standards & Guidelines for Crochet and Knitting. NOTE that this is a list of the most commonly used crochet abbreviations. It is by no means complete. Designers and publishers may use special abbreviations in a pattern, which you might not find on this list. In most cases, you will find a shorter list of the crochet abbreviations that the pattern, magazine or book uses in the front or back-matter.

  • alt . . . . . . . alternate
  • approx . . approximately
  • beg. . . . . . begin/beginning
  • bet . . . . . . between
  • BL or BLO. . back loop or back loop only
  • bo . . . . . . . bobble
  • BP . . . . . . back post
  • BPdc . . . . back post double crochet
  • BPsc . . . . . back post single crochet
  • BPtr. . . . . . back post treble crochet
  • CA. . . . . . . color A
  • CB. . . . . . . color B
  • CC. . . . . . . contrasting color
  • ch . . . . . . . chain stitch
  • ch- . . . . . . refers to chain or space previously made: e.g., ch-1 space
  • ch-sp . . . . chain space
  • CL . . . . . . . cluster
  • cm. . . . . . . centimeter(s)
  • cont . . . . . continue
  • dc . . . . . . . double crochet
  • dc2tog . . . double crochet 2 stitches together
  • dec . . . . . . decrease/decreases/decreasing
  • dtr . . . . . . . double treble
  • FL or FLO. . . front loop or front loop only
  • foll . . . . . . follow/follows/following
  • FP. . . . . . . front post
  • FPdc. . . . . front post double crochet
  • FPsc . . . . . front post single crochet
  • FPtr . . . . . front post treble crochet
  • g . . . . . . . . gram
  • hdc. . . . . . half double crochet
  • inc . . . . . . increase/increases/increasing
  • lp(s) . . . . . loops
  • m . . . . . . . meter(s)
  • MC . . . . . . main color
  • mm . . . . . millimeter(s)
  • oz . . . . . . . ounce(s)
  • p . . . . . . . picot
  • pat(s) or patt . . pattern(s)
  • pc . . . . . . . popcorn
  • pm . . . . . . place marker
  • prev . . . . . previous
  • rem . . . . . remain/remaining
  • rep . . . . . . repeat(s)
  • rnd(s). . . . round(s)
  • RS. . . . . . . right side
  • sc . . . . . . . single crochet
  • sc2tog . . . single crochet 2 stitches together
  • sk . . . . . . . skip
  • sl st . . . . . slip sitich
  • sp(s). . . . . space(s)
  • st(s) . . . . . stitch(es)
  • tch or t-ch . . turning chain
  • tog . . . . . . together
  • tr. . . . . . . . treble crochet
  • trtr. . . . . . . triple treble crochet
  • WS . . . . . . wrong side
  • yd(s) . . . . yard(s)
  • yo. . . . . . . yarn over
  • yoh . . . . . . yarn over hook

Remember this list is just a guide. Magazines and other publications may have their own set of crochet abbreviations.  However, if you would like a handy print out of this to keep in your project bag, get it here! This cheat sheet also includes symbols and terms that I will be discussing in a future post. I recommend laminating it and keeping it with you especially if you are a newish crocheter! Having a general guide will be a great help in deciphering those patterns that might not have a key in them.

Do you have any abbreviations in your patterns you don’t understand? Post them in the comments and I will do my best to help you figure them out!

Next week we will talk about the 2nd topic – How Patterns are Structured. See you then!

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