Top Tips for Understanding Crochet Charts

Finished one skein wonder fan centred scarfMy sister-in-law is an amazing crocheter. She is able to glance at a chart, instinctively know what all the symbols mean, and then pick up her hook and create a corresponding crochet masterpiece. She has long encouraged me to learn how to read a crochet chart and at last I have done it!

It has opened up a whole new world for me where language no longer matters.

Here is my first crochet chart make.

The design is based on the Fan Centred Scarf in Judith Durant and Edie Eckman’s Crochet One-Skein Wonder book.

Can you see those beautiful fan shapes at its centre?

Rolled Fan Centred Scarf If you haven’t used a chart before – just have a go! There are so many reasons why:

  • The chart is like a pictorial representation of how your crochet will look.
  • Its faster to glance down at a symbol than find & read words on a written pattern.
  • Charts are “written” in the International Crochet Symbol System so you don’t need to work out if your pattern is written in UK, US or any other terms.

Here’ are my top tips to help you get started.

1. For your first make, try to find a pattern that has both written and chart instructions. Some may say this defeats the object, but I think it really helps to build your confidence as you can test yourself. You know how, like you used to do when learning a new spelling with that “look, say, cover…..” technique.

written pattern and chart

2. Alternate rounds or rows are often written in alternating colours such as black and blue so you can easily distinguish between them.

3. Use a pencil or mini post-it to mark off your position on the chart. I prefer a pencil if the complete project is shown and a mini post-it if only a segments such as a pattern repeat is highlighted as you can re-stick it as many times as you need to work the pattern.

Post it and pencils for marking crochet patterns

4. The chart shows the pattern from the front ie the “right side” of your crochet. When working in rows this can get confusing as when you work the “wrong side” you are working in one direction (right to left) and reading the chart in the other (left to right). If you have a piece of translucent paper (e.g. vellum or tracing paper) you can copy your chart onto that and then flip the pattern as you turn your work so you can work and read from right to left (as a right-handed crocheter).triple treble 1

5. For most stitches (expect for the UK half treble / US half double) the number of diagonal lines across each T tells you how many times you have to wrap the yarn around your hook (yarn over) before you insert it into the stitch.

6. Patterns worked in rows begin at the bottom and work up. They generally begin in the bottom right hand corner – some also have the row numbers labelled where each starts.

7. Patterns worked in rounds begin at the centre.

If you need a reminder of crochet symbols check out this one by Yarn Standards.

crochet chart (2)

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16 thoughts on “Top Tips for Understanding Crochet Charts

  1. I have a pattern that is a circle and it has it in sections like a pie and it is a flower with a hole in the middle for a ponytail to go through and it is to be increased to be all ruffle like and it do not know how to understand how to do it.I have made the pattern with the increases there but no ruffle just flat. I would leave the pattern but do not know how to here, or if i can.

  2. I have a chart that I’m having difficulties with. I’ve never read a pattern this way and the written part is in a foreign language. Any ideas?

      • The pattern might be written in French. The crochet begins at the centre – if you look closely you can see the rows numbered. Here are some terms that might help you get started. I’ve tried to make the pattern bigger to see the chart but it gets blurry on the screen so you might need to use both the written and chart together. I’ve found some French crochet terms that might help to get your started.
        1er tour = 1st round
        dans une boucle = in a loop
        maille en l’air (ml) = chain stitch
        maille serree (ms) = Uk double, US single crochet stitch
        bride (br) = Uk treble, US double stitch

        So, to get started, I think you need to chain 12 stitches, slip stitch to form a ring,

      • Thank you so much, will give it a shot! I think it’s actually Russian from the site I got it off of but these things are not so very clear…LOL I think I’ll make some notes and see where it takes me. Of course yours will be included as I so appreciate your help.

  3. I love a chart. I can see immediately exactly what to do. Give me a chart over text any day. I also find it really easy to find my place again. I think we all just work things out differently. There will always be chart people and there will also be text folks.

  4. Still looks scary to me! I’ve only just learnt how to read a crochet pattern but still need to keep my aide-memoire at hand. But then, when I first followed your blog I didn’t even have a sewing machine and I felt inspired to pursue that so maybe crochet diagrams are next.

    It’s most kind of you but how are you guessing what I’ll want to do next…and if you’ve been inside my head do feel free to give it a tidy up, lol!

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