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Taking The Pain Out Of Reading Patterns – Crochet Pattern Symbols and Terms

Welcome to Part Three of my series on Taking the Pain out of Pattern Reading. Last week we covered Crochet Abbreviations. In case you missed it last week, there are four topics I am covering in this series.
  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 talking about what the Crochet Pattern Symbols and Terms mean. Before we get into it, did you get the Abbreviations Cheat Sheet?  It included the symbols and terms on it too!  If you didnt, get it now.

Crochet Symbols

Crochet Symbols are the “mathematical” symbols we see scattered throughout a pattern. They include 2 types of brackets as well as most commonly, the asterisk.  However, it is good to note here that many designers take liberties with symbols in their pattern writing to include such non-standard symbols as the plus sign (+) double asterisks (**) and I have even seen the curly brackets ({ }).  If the designer is using these, there should be a notation somewhere about WHY and HOW they are using them. Below is a list of each of the three standard symbols used in a pattern and the definition of how they are used.

* An asterisk marks the beginning of a portion of the pattern directions that will be worked more than once. (IE rep from * 3 times)
( ) Parentheses are used to denote a portion of the pattern which should be worked in the same stitch or space. (IE (2 dc, ch 3, 2 dc) in next corner space)
[  ] Brackets are used to denote a portion of the pattern that should be repeated the exact number of times following. (IE  [sc in next stitch, ch 1] four times)

Crochet Terms

Crochet terminology is another area that I feel is overlooked by crochet instructors and internet bloggers and video teachers. When new crocheters come to my classes, many times they bring along a pattern that has some of these terms listed below and will ask me what they mean. Again, there are some designers that may create their own unique terminology that is for their own patterns, but these are the industry standards.

  • Multiple –  the number of stitches required to complete one repeat of the pattern stitch
  • Place Marker (PM) – to put a marker in the stitch or between stitches mentioned.  The marker is used to help place stitches or divide portions of the fabric.
  • Work Even – to continue working the pattern without increasing or decreasing.
  • Turn – to turn the work over so that the reverse side is facing you.
  • Turning Chain – the number of chain stitches worked at the end of a row to achieve the required height for the next row.
  • Front Loop – the loop at the top of the stitch that is closest to you
  • Back Loop – the loop at the top of the stitch that is the furthest away from you.
  • Post – the vertical part of the stitch.

Have you seen a term or symbol out there that you don’t know or understand what it means?  Post in the comments below and I would be glad to help you figure it out!


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