Taking The Pain Out Of Reading Patterns – Breaking Down Crochet Patterns

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 abbreviations are
  2. how patterns are structured
  3. what the symbols mean
  4. how to break down the pattern into understandable chunks
Today we are going to talk about how to break down the pattern so that you can understand it.
One of the major things that I think crocheters seem to forget is that is if you really look at how a pattern is written, each row is a “sentence”. Granted, my son the English major would say it is a badly written run-on sentence. However, if you start to look at patterns that way, you will find it much easier to start understanding what is happening and how the pattern is put together. In my live classes on pattern reading, I teach my students how to break up each row or round by writing out in plain English (or if you are an international reader, write it in your native language). The way I do this is to look at a row and write out each step, as monotonous as it might be, with each piece on a separate line. If you do it that way, you will have a bit of a “checklist” to make sure you didn’t miss anything. If you are going to read each row or round like a sentence, remember your rules of punctuation. Commas (,) and semi-colons (;) are usually a pause in the middle of a sentence. So when you read the pattern, make sure to pause at each one of those to help you break it out.  And be sure to refer back to the previous post on Crochet Symbols and Terms to help with the brackets and asterisks too. Here is a quick pattern that uses a whole bunch of different parts of pattern writing. I am going to do a checklist below each round to show you how it is done. This pattern works in the round so there are no turns.

PATTERN: Ruffled Rose

Ch 4, join with sl st to form ring.
  • Chain 4 stitches
  • With a slip stitch, join into a ring
Rnd 1:  Ch 1, [sc in ring, ch 3] 5 times.  Join with sl st in first sc.
  • Chain 1
  • Single crochet in the middle of the ring
  • Chain 3
  • Single crochet in the middle of the ring
  • Chain 3
  • Single crochet in the middle of the ring
  • Chain 3
  • Single crochet in the middle of the ring
  • Chain 3
  • Single crochet in the middle of the ring
  • Chain 3
  • Slip stitch in the first single crochet
Rnd 2:  Work [sc, ch 1, (dc, ch 1) 5 times, sc] (petal made) in each ch 3 sp.  Join with sl st in first sc.
  • In first chain 3 space
    • Single Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Single Crochet
  • In next chain 3 space
    • Single Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Single Crochet
  • In next chain 3 space
    • Single Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Single Crochet
  • In next chain 3 space
    • Single Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Single Crochet
  • In next chain 3 space
    • Single Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Single Crochet
  • Slip stitch in the first single crochet
Rnd 3:  Ch 4, *sc in behind 3rd dc in next petal, ch 4, * sc in between next 2 sc, ch 4; repeat from * around ending with a join in first sc.
  • Chain 4
  • Single crochet behind 3rd double crochet in the next petal
  • Chain 4
  • Single crochet on between the next 2 single crochets 
  • Chain 4
  • Single crochet behind 3rd double crochet in the next petal
  • Chain 4
  • Single crochet on between the next 2 single crochets 
  • Chain 4
  • Single crochet behind 3rd double crochet in the next petal
  • Chain 4
  • Single crochet on between the next 2 single crochets 
  • Chain 4
  • Single crochet behind 3rd double crochet in the next petal
  • Chain 4
  • Single crochet on between the next 2 single crochets 
  • Chain 4
  • Single crochet behind 3rd double crochet in the next petal
  • Chain 4
  • Single crochet on between the next 2 single crochets 
  • Chain 4
  • Slip stitch in the first single crochet
Rnd 4:  Work [sc, ch1, (dc, ch 1) 5 times, sc] in each ch 4 sp around, join with a sl st in first sc.  Fasten off.
  • In first chain 4 space
    • Single Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Single Crochet
  • In next chain 4 space
    • Single Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Single Crochet
  • In next chain 4 space
    • Single Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Single Crochet
  • In next chain 4 space
    • Single Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Single Crochet
  • In next chain 4 space
    • Single Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Single Crochet
  • In next chain 4 space
    • Single Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Single Crochet
  • In next chain 4 space
    • Single Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Single Crochet
  • In next chain 4 space
    • Single Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Double Crochet
    • Chain 1
    • Single Crochet
  • Slip stitch in the first single crochet
  • Fasten Off
Now, I know that is a lot of writing. And I don’t recommend you do it for EVERY row/round of the pattern. However, by using this technique on those rows/rounds that cause you a lot of confusion you will find that you can work through all of the parts of the pattern.  Even if you don’t get it right the first time, it will help you understand what the pattern is trying to tell you. I really hope that this series helped you take the pain out of crochet pattern reading!  Be sure to leave me a comment if you have any questions or comments. I love to hear from my readers!
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