Help reading crochet patterns for beginners

Do you know what I love about amigurumi? They’re quick and fun crochet projects that can be suitable for beginners! But, it can be a little daunting to read a crochet pattern- even if you know how to crochet! In this blog post, I’m going to talk about the basics of reading a crochet pattern!

Below, I’ve snipped a little piece of pattern from Howie the Holiday Penguin, a free pattern that you can download. The chosen snippet is from the wing- and I’m going to go through, line by line, and decode the tricky bits.

Line 1: Make 2

This instruction tells you that you are going to make 2 items (in this case, wings). So, you’ll complete this entire set of directions once, and end up with one wing. Then, you’ll do it all over again for your second wing!

Line 2: With MC, ch 2

For decoding this line, you’ll want to flip to the front of the pattern, where the abbreviations live. ‘MC’ stands for ‘main color’, and in the front of the penguin pattern, you’ll find that the main color is a black yarn. ‘ch’ stands for ‘chain’, and ‘ch 2’ is instructing you to ‘chain 2 stitches’. Before you can do this, you’ll need to begin with a slip knot (that part usually doesn’t get mentioned in the pattern!).

    helpful resources:

  • For a video of the slip knot, click here.
  • For a video of the chain stitch, click here.

Line 3: Round 1: Sc 6 times in 2nd ch from hook (6)

Again, you’ll need to consult the abbreviation! ‘Sc’ stands for ‘single crochet’. So, in words, this line instructs you to ‘single crochet six times in the second chain from the hook’. What’s the ‘second chain from hook’? Look at the two chains you completed on the last line. It’s telling you to work NOT in the one right next to your hook… but one further away from that! (it’s the first chain that you crocheted!).

What does that (6) mean? It means that at the completion of this round, you should have 6 stitches! It’s very helpful to count your stitches!

    helpful resources:

  • For a video of the single crochet, click here.
  • For tips on counting when working in the round, click here

Line 4: Round 2: Sc twice in each st (12)

This instruction is instructing you to single crochet twice (do an increase) in each of the next 6 stitches, and that you should have 12 stitches at the completion of this round.

    helpful resources:

  • For a video of the single crochet increase, click here.

Line 5: Rounds 3-4: Sc in each st (12)

This instruction is saying that for round 3, you should single crochet in each stitch. Then, you should single crochet in each stitch for round 4, as well. You should have 12 stitches in each round. (I’ll bet you’re getting the hang of pattern reading, now!)

Line 6: Round 5: *Sc twice in next st, sc in next st. Repeat from * 5 times (18)

Just when you thought you were getting it… a crazy asterisk crept in! So, here’s what this one is saying. It’s telling you to single crochet twice in the next stitch, and then single crochet in the stitch after that. Now, do that 5 more times. So, by the end, you will have done:

sc twice, sc, sc twice, sc, sc twice, sc, sc twice, sc, sc twice, sc, sc twice, sc, and you’ll have have 18 stitches. (now, you see why we don’t write out patterns that way… it gets really long!

Line 7: Rounds 6-9: Sc in each st (18)

You’ve seen this before! For round 6, 7, 8 and 9, single crochet in each stitch there is!

Line 8: *Sc2tog, sc in next st. Repeat from * 5 times (12)

Sc2tog means to ‘single crochet 2 stitches together’, also known as a decrease. So, this line is instructing you to single crochet the next 2 stitches together, then single crochet in the next stitch. Now, do that 5 more times. You’ll have 12 stitches when you’re done!

    helpful resources:

  • For a video of the single crochet decrease, click here.

Line 9: Fasten off with long tail

You’re almost done! Simply cut your yarn about 6 inches away from your last stitch, and pull the tail through the stitch to tie a knot. Yay!

    helpful resources:

  • For a video of the fastening off, click here.

Congrats! You’ve read your first pattern… now you’re ready to crochet the entire penguin!

Hey there, fellow crocheter! Have you checked out my Ultimate Crochet Hook Review?

Learn your hook anatomy, find out about difference between hooks and discover which hook suits your particular crochet style! Nothing’s worse than crocheting with an icky hook, right?

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Mar 8, 2011 | Posted by in Tips & Techniques | 37 comments

Comments (37 Responses)

  1. Cheryl says:

    I’m going to bookmark this for when I pluck up the courage to actually try and follow a crochet pattern :)

  2. nataly says:

    woo this is so eazy i made it with your steps and it’s went so g o o d !!!
    thank you !!! cool

  3. Peggy Slater says:

    I am crocheting a dress for a newborn girl. The pattern at the end of the row says to chain 4 (counts as tr fpr) do not turn. The end of the next row says to join around post of chain 4. Can you tell me how to do this? Thanks.

    • Stacey says:

      Hi Peggy-
      That’s a lot of confusing terms, huh?
      The start of the row is telling you to chain 4. You can basically ignore the “counts as…” it’s just an instruction for counting, you don’t have to do anything extra.
      For the end, do you know how to crochet around the post of a double/treble crochet? Here’s a video:

      So, to do it with the chain 4, you’re going to pretend that the chain 4 is a treble crochet, and crochet around the post.
      hope that helps!

  4. Ann says:

    I’m crocheting a round baby blanket and am confused by directions it’s my first. Can you help? The instructions pattern is
    (Ch3, skip next dc, 1 dc in each of next 20 dc, 2 dc in next loop) 16 times. Then work 3 rounds even. 22 dc in each panel. I have been doing the pattern but what does work 3 even mean? The pattern increases 1 on each round how do I stay at 22 dc in each panel.

    • Stacey says:

      Hey Ann-
      “work 3 rounds even” typically means to work 3 rounds without increasing. In that case, you would just dc in each dc (which is ‘working even’) for 3 rounds, and increase every 4th round.
      Hope that helps!

  5. Ann says:

    does that mean I don’t chain 3 for those 3 rows

  6. Ann says:

    how do I keep only 22 dc

    • Stacey says:

      I can’t see your entire pattern, so I can’t say for sure. My guess is that the 22 stitches refers to the first increase round, and the number of stitches will increase after that.

      If you can find contact information for the designer, it may be helpful to email them for clarification.

  7. “Ch 3 turn, dc in back loop only of next dc ch1; repeat from * across to last 3 dc, skip next dc, dc in back loop only of last 2 dc: 114 dc and 111ch?

    • Stacey says:

      Hi Liz-
      Do you have a question about that particular instruction?
      When reading a crochet pattern, it helps to just work one part at a time… until you get to a part that you’re having trouble with. Let me know which instruction is causing trouble!

  8. […] For a great source of crochet patterns, join Ravelry and browse around. If you’re at a loss about how to start reading a crochet pattern, check out this helpful blog post. […]

  9. jackie knapp says:

    My pattern reads Ch5 ( counts as dc,ch2), *skip next ch-1sp. Cl in next ch-1sp, (ch1, CL in next ch-1 sp) 4 times, ch2#,dc in next sc. What does the ch 2# mean

    • Stacey says:

      Hmm… I’m not sure! Do you think it could be a typo? The ‘#’ sign is right next to the 2…
      Have you looked the pattern up in Ravelry to see if there are errata?

  10. Sabina says:

    I am making slippers and can’t figure out the pattern…am a beginner:
    I understand Round 1/2 but then Round 3 says: 3 ch, 1 dc (into 1st stitch), 2 dc into each next, join with sl st.
    does this mean that I do the chain, then dc into 1st stitch and then do 2 dc in each next stitch til the end of the round or do I repeat the pattern?
    Round 4: 3 ch, 1 dc into 1st stitch, 2 dc into next stich join with sl st
    Again, is it a pattern or do I do the 1 followed by 2 everytime?
    Thanks so much!

    • Stacey says:

      Hi Sabina!
      The instruction for Round 3 means: chain 3, dc into the first stitch. Now, for each of the remaining stitches in the round, dc two times. You won’t repeat the ch 3 part.

  11. Josephine says:

    hi! my pattern says sc in each dc to next space, sc in next space. what does it mean? thanks

    • Stacey says:

      A ‘space’ is typically a gap that’s made in the previous row between stitches. I would google around for some examples so you can see what one looks like :)

  12. Patricia says:

    Hi Stacy,
    I am running into a issue it a pattern. I am crocheting a baby blanket…and right now I am pretty confused. I have being crocheting on and off for sometime now. However…my comprehension has kind of dwindled. Can you please help. Here is my confusion…6th rnd: Sl st in each dc across to next ch-2 sp. (Ch 3. 1 dc. Ch 2. 2 dc) in same sp – beg cluster made. *1 dc in each of next 2 dc. Miss next 2 dc. 1 dc in each of next 2 dc.** Cluster in next ch-2 sp. Rep from * to last 6 dc. Rep from * to **. Join.
    The repeat from * to last 6 dc is my problem. Does this mean that I have to leave the last six dc unworked?


    • Stacey says:

      Hi Patricia-
      It’s pretty hard to jump in the middle of the pattern and decode what’s going on. I would recommend going to Ravelry and checking out the info on the pattern… maybe someone has included info in the notes. You could also shoot the designer an email!

  13. […] you with us. Maybe I can help out. Here is a site that teaches you how to read crochet patterns How to read a crochet pattern | FreshStitches Here is a site to teach you the basic of crocheting: Learn Crochet — Beginner Basics and […]

  14. Ju says:

    I have a pattern that says sc 1, Inc *.
    I know what everything means except the 1. It has a number after each sc and I have no idea what it means. Inc means increase which means two sc in one stitch. Like after that one line I showed you up there it saysbsc 2, Inc*, and the next says sc 3, Inc*. Can you help?

  15. Crochet lover says:

    I am making a stuffed elephant. And I don’t really know how to sew/crochet on the body parts.Can you help?

  16. Del lovinggood says:
    Please help. I am stuck on the second pie wedge section. It says to skip 22 stitches and dc in the next 17 stitches. This looks like it is leaving a small hole. Not sure if it is for the armhole, but is awfully small.
    Any help is greatly appreciated.

  17. Jlg says:

    What is size7 hook?

  18. Jlg says:

    What does “draw up a loop” mean? The pattern says “4 sc in indicated st, draw up a lp, remove hook,”. I know that lp means loop.

    • Stacey says:

      Hi there! I’m not familiar with the exact pattern you’re referring to, but ‘draw up a loop’ sometimes means bringing the yarn through the stitch (a single crochet contains two actions that could be called drawing up a loop). It looks like the pattern you have might be using non-standard writing, so the best thing to do would be to email the designer to figure out their intention.

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