Whenever I share patterns, especially foreign patterns that use charts, I hear the same complaint: I don’t know how to read a crochet chart. Reading a crochet chart is not something you pick up along the way, it’s something you learn because you have a very good reason and a very good teacher.
I’ve created this series for two reasons:
- So I can keep sharing amazing crochet chart patterns from around the world
- So you know how to use the charts to create amazing crochet pieces
Now, I have a full course on “How to Read Patterns, Charts & Graphs” on Curious.com if you want to move ahead. However, I thought it would be fun to create a quick & dirty “how to read & use a crochet chart” lesson here on Yarn Obsession. The goal is to learn and practice until we’re happily reading crochet charts like we read written crochet instructions!
Learning to read and use a crochet chart is a universal way of sharing patterns. Because it doesn’t rely on language anyone can use a chart. There are some differences when it comes to chart symbols but that’s a little like language. However, just like the man and woman on bathroom doors, we can figure it out.
Symbols represent stitches on a crochet chart. (see Figure 1 ——>) Symbols are arranged so you can follow what’s happening as you move from left to right.
At the end of each row a small number represents the row number you’re currently working on which helps keep you on track whether you’re crocheting right-handed or left-handed. Once you’re able to understand how the basic symbols work you’ll be able to build your skills by adding new symbols (which we’ll get into next time) to create more intricate pieces.
Let’s start with a basic chart like the one in Figure 2. It shows a row of chains at the bottom and then it shows a number “1” to the right. The row of chains (highlighted in red) is the number of chains you’ll need to begin. So for this example you’ll need to chain 10 with two of the chains serving as your turning chain. The number “1” means we are starting on the first row of your work.
Once your chain is done you’re ready to start on the first row. According to the symbol chart, this pattern is for Half Double Crochet (HDC) stitches. So, in the third chain from the hook, you’ll put your first HDC and repeat that to the end (highlighted in red in Figure 3). When you get to the end of row 1, there are two “chain” symbols going up and a small number “2”. That means you’ll chain 2 and start on row 2 (remember the “2” represents the row not the chains or number of stitches). Row 2 repeats the HDC pattern from row 1.
That’s it! You’re done and you’ve just read your first chart! That wasn’t so hard was it? I know it takes time, but soon you’ll be reading plenty of charts and your pattern library will grow!
Your assignment, before we move to Part II of “How to read a crochet chart” is to look in your crochet pattern books and find an easy pattern with a chart and see if you can read it. Also, try making the stitch, without reading the directions but by just reading the chart, and see how you do!
Next week we’ll explore some additional stitches, and groupings!
I’d love to hear about your assignment in the comments below. Remember, it’s one thing to read, it’s another to put it into action to solidify what you’ve read. You’re learning a new skill so be patient with yourself.
Are you ready to move on?