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How to Read Crochet Patterns in Rounds: Complete Guide

Reading a crochet pattern is one of the essential skills any crocheter should have. Patterns are not only an excellent way for beginners to get the hang of crocheting, but they also come in handy for more experienced crafters. However, if you’ve never read a crochet pattern before, they can seem a little, well, scary. All those numbers, abbreviations, and symbols can really make your head spin. So, to help get rid of this fear, here’s a complete guide to reading crochet patterns in rounds. 

Part 1: Understanding Crochet Basics

Basic Stitch Abbreviations

The first thing you should know when reading a pattern is what all those abbreviations mean. Some patterns will include a reading key that you can refer to. But if yours doesn’t, here’s a quick overview of commonly used stitch abbreviations and their meanings:

Basic Crochet Terms

Aside from stitch abbreviations, there are also some basic terms (and their abbreviations) you should know. These include: 

These might seem like a lot to remember at first, but if you take a closer look, you’ll see that most of them make sense – and that you’d likely know their meaning without a guide anyway. 

Part 2: Reading Parentheses, Brackets, and Asterisks

How to Read Crochet Pattern Parentheses and Brackets

On top of abbreviations, patterns are also quite rich in symbols, such as parentheses and brackets. First, let’s tackle parentheses. Unless stated otherwise in the pattern, parentheses () are used to group stitches together. For instance:

In next DC (3dc, ch4, 3dc)

That means that three double crochet stitches, a chain of 4, and another three doubles will be worked together in one DC stitch.

Brackets [], on the other hand, indicate steps that are to be repeated. They are followed by a number that indicates how many times you should repeat them. For instance,

[3dc, ch4, 3dc] 4 times

means that you will repeat the three stitches in the brackets four times.

How to Read Crochet Pattern Asterisks

Asterisks are yet another symbol that is commonly used in patterns. Similarly to brackets, an asterisk * indicates repetition. This will usually be clearly indicated in the pattern, such as in the following example:

Rnd 3: Ch 3, sk same st as joining sl st, *sk next st, V-st in next st; rep from * to last st

This means that sk next st, V-st in next st should be repeated until the last stitch.

As you’re reading the symbols in a pattern, keep in mind that these are just general rules. Sometimes, a symbol may indicate something else. For instance, patterns that come in different sizes often include instructions for other sizes in parentheses. These details will usually be clearly indicated in the pattern itself.

Part 3: Reading an Actual Crochet Pattern: Step-by-Step

Source: freepik

Title and Description

Now that we got the basics out of the way, it’s time to start reading the actual pattern. Before you jump straight to instructions, there is some other important information to check. The title and description of the pattern might seem like they’re there just to convince you to crochet, but they can actually tell you a little more about the project, such as the skill level you need to have.

Skill Level
Speaking of skill levels – most patterns are classified into four categories of difficulty:
- Beginner – These patterns have simple, basic stitches, and they rarely include colour switching. They are great for crocheters who are still at the very beginning of their crafting journey. The most common projects in this category include scarves, blankets, dishcloths, and other items with a simple shape.
- Easy – Easy patterns are slightly more complex than beginner ones, but they are still appropriate for inexperienced crocheters. An easy pattern might also include some colour changing or shaping. In this category, you may find things such as beanies, scarves, or headbands.
- Intermediate – Now we’re getting to more intricate patterns. Intermediate patterns usually include more shaping, colour switching, more advanced stitches (such as the puff stitch, for instance), or even more difficult yarns, such as fine and superfine. Here, you’ll find anything from sweaters to dresses.
- Advanced – These patterns are reserved for crocheters who are completely confident in their skills. They are packed with complex stitches and techniques, intricate colourwork, and so on.

Type of Yarn and Supplies
The next thing a pattern will tell you is the type of yarn and other supplies you’ll need. Most patterns will list the exact yarns used, including the brand and shade. However, you can always switch to a yarn of similar weight and fibre content. The crochet hook size will also be listed. If the hook sizes listed on the pattern and the yarn label are different, always follow what the pattern says.

Some other commonly listed tools and supplies include yarn/tapestry needles, poly stuffing, safety buttons, stitch markers, scissors, and so on. While some of these may not be needed until the very end of the project, we recommend that you gather all the necessary supplies before even starting, just to be safe.

The gauge on the pattern is a tiny piece of information, but nonetheless important. It tells you how densely packed your stitches should be. This will affect the final size and shape of the project. If you’re not sure whether you can obtain the right gauge, it’s always a good idea to crochet a little gauge swatch first. And if the gauge isn’t right, consider sizing up or down the crochet hook you’re using.

If the gauge is not specified in the pattern (which is not often the case), the dimensions of the finished project don’t matter too much.

Size and Measurements
In most cases, the pattern will also list the measurements of the finished project. This is especially important for items such as clothing garments, as it would be a shame to crochet an entire sweater, only to find out it doesn’t fit. Some patterns also come in various sizes, and the measurements will help you decide which size is best for you.

Keep in mind, however, that the finished measurements are somewhat approximate. The exact size of the finished garment depends on many factors, such as the type and weight of yarn, the gauge, whether you block your piece, and so on.

Abbreviations and Terms
At the beginning of this article, we listed some of the most commonly used abbreviations and terms in crochet patterns. However, most patterns will also include a key that lists all the abbreviations used in that specific pattern. This will make it easier to follow the instructions, and you’ll always have the key to refer to if you forget what a certain abbreviation stands for.

Pattern Instructions
Finally, the last part of the pattern is the main one – the instructions themselves. A pattern may be written in rows (the piece is worked back and forth in parallel lines) or in rounds (the pattern is worked continuously in a sort of tube-like shape).

If crocheting in rounds, you will most commonly begin at the very center of the item and crochet your way out in circles. This is an excellent crocheting technique for items such as washcloths, afghans, and other regular-shaped objects. Patterns written in rounds will begin each new step with Rnd 1, Rnd 2, and so on, so you will always know which round you’re working on.

Another thing to keep in mind is whether the pattern is written in UK or US terminology since certain stitches have different names. This will usually be specified in the pattern itself. If it isn’t, check whether there are single crochet (sc) stitches. If there are, you have a US pattern (UK terminology doesn’t have a single crochet stitch).

We know all of this may seem like a lot at first. However, reading patterns can only get easy with practice, so grab a beginner or easy-level pattern and work your way up to more complicated instructions. And if patterns just don’t seem to be your thing, you can always consider switching to charts or video instructions instead.

How to Read Crochet Patterns: FAQs

How do you read a crochet chart in the round?
In order to read a crochet chart in the round, you will first need to get a hang of all the abbreviations and terminology. Then, simply follow the step-by-step instructions in your pattern for each round (working our way from the center outward).

What do rounds mean in a crochet pattern?
A round in a crochet pattern is simply a circle made of yarn stitches. Crocheting in rounds means that you keep crocheting in circles, usually from the inside out creating concentric circles, until the entire piece is finished.

How do you count crochet in the round?
Counting stitches when crocheting in the round can be a little tricky. The easiest way to do so is to start from the hook and count back towards the beginning of the round. However, remember that the loop on the hook doesn’t count as a stitch just yet!