Resources : how to read a pattern (charts)

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I promised you an explanation of crochet charts vs written patterns.  Here it is.

In my HUMBLE opinion, and that of most sites who’ve done an article on the subject, the biggest advantage to learning to read crochet charts is the fact that they are pretty much universal, thus opening an entire new world of international crochet to you.  Designers now also often include charts to represent complicated patterns.  The visual quality of charts makes for a more readable pattern, whether the written instructions are in Russian, Japanese or English.  We’ll see an example below.

Crochet Chart Symbols

Craft Yarn Council’s Crochet Chart Symbols

Charts use symbols to represent stitches.  The image above is from Craft Yarn Council.  I used this symbols’ chart to work the shawl pictured below from a Russian pattern!

Spiderweb shawl

A young lady I chatted regularly with on an ultra-religious forum I’ve mentionned sent me a copy (way before I understood copyright issues, so forgive me for that) to recreate a shawl of hers I really loved.

The instructions meant nothing to me (a French & English speaker) but they included a chart.   As charts visually represent the pattern, I figured I should just go ahead and try.

A good chart will place symbols directly above the stitch you’ll be working in, eliminating guess work.  This was a good chart.

Working in rows :

Charts for projects worked in rows are read from bottom to top.

Rows will be numbered : odd-numbered rows (right side) will be read from right to left, while even-numbered rows (wrong side) will be read from left to right.

Diagrammes - rangs
Diagrammes – rangs

(Image via

Taking the image above, for example :

To start, you need to chain 29 (26 + 3 to turn). Chains are an empty oval.

Row 1 (right side) : pretty simple, really.  The striked Ts are double crochet stitches.  Reading the chart you’ll notice you’ll be working 1 Dc in the 4th ch from the hook, and 1 Dc in each chain across.

Row 2 (wrong side) : the 3 ovals represent 3 ch for turning chain.  Then  you’ll read as follows :

Ch 3, dc in next 2 dc, sk 2 dc, *(2dc, 1ch, 2dc) in next dc, sk 2, dc in ea of next 3 dc.  Repeat from * to end of row.

That gray zone in the chart is the pattern repeat, or everything that follows an * in a written pattern.

Working in rounds :

When working in rounds, charts are read from the center out, counter-clockwise.

Rounds will be numbered or identified by different colours.

Diagramme - tours
Diagramme – tours

(Image via number19)

Here you’d read :

Round 1: Ch 4, close with sl st to form ring.

Round 2: Ch 1, 8 sc in ring, close with sl st.

Round 3: Ch 6 (= 3 ch + 1 dc), skip next sc, *Dc in next sc, ch 3. Repeat from *. Sl st to close.

There is really only one way to get comfortable with charts, and that is to try them!  Follow the instructions for the ‘wrap it up‘ scarf – it has a complete chart & written instructions so when in doubt, check one against the other before continuing.

As always, your questions are welcome!