How to Read Crochet Symbols

by Mercedes Valladares
Learn the different crochet symbols to make crochet fabric panels.

Learn the different crochet symbols to make crochet fabric panels.

Jupiterimages/ Images

Knitting enthusiasts often work with premade patterns to create different projects. Crochet lovers use these pattern types to make items, such as shawls, scarves, blankets and trims. Family members often pass down crochet patterns from generation to generation, many of which are filled with sentimental meaning for the recipient. Most universal patterns explain each step by using crochet stitch shorthand abbreviations as well as symbols to expedite the project. It is helpful to locate the country of origin for the pattern. Certain abbreviations and terminology used to define individual stitches differ from country to country. Most English-language patterns have commonly used symbols for basic crochet stitches.

Step 1

Read the crochet pattern you are working from and locate the required basic stitch for the design. This area generally includes the amount of required stitches per row. For example, all crochet crafts list the amount of required stitches for the foundation chain and proceed to explain the required stitches for each subsequent row. The foundation chain is a series of identical stitches referred to as chains and abbreviated as "ch."

Step 2

Find the pattern chart, which translates crochet abbreviations, as well as the country of origin, usually printed on the crochet pattern envelope or instruction sheet. The pattern chart is usually listed at the beginning or end of the pattern. For instance, U.S. patterns requiring a single crochet abbreviate as "sc." This term translates as double crochet and is abbreviated as "dc" for UK patterns.

Step 3

Review the crochet stitches within the pattern scheme. Certain patterns write out the instructions in crochet language. For instance, read the pattern's first row instructions, such as 1 sc in 2nd ch from hook. This translates to working one single crochet stitch into the second chain from the hook. The same pattern includes the same sentence written with symbols for the chain stitch and the single crochet.

Step 4

Refer to the chain stitch and slip stitch symbol on the pattern. The chain stitch symbol resembles an oval outline with a "ch" as the abbreviation. The slip stitch symbol resembles a period or filled-in dot and is abbreviated as "sl st" for U.S. patterns and "ss" for UK patterns. Although the slip stitch is rarely used to create solid crochet fabrics, it is commonly used to join parts of crochet together. The stitch also minimizes stretching when worked into the crochet fabric as an edge.

Step 5

Refer to the single crochet symbol, which resembles a cross and is abbreviated as "sc." This basic short stitch type is generally longer in length than the slip stitch.

Step 6

Refer to the half double crochet stitch symbol. The half double symbol resembles a long "T" and is abbreviated as "hdc." This stitch type is a basic short stitch used to create dense and firm textured crochet fabric.

Step 7

Refer to the double crochet symbol, which also includes the long "T" symbol as the half double. The vertical line of the "T" is slightly elongated and has a single back slash crossing at the center of the vertical line. This basic stitch is longer and creates a flexible crochet fabric with an airier feeling.

Step 8

Refer to the treble crochet symbol, which also includes the elongated vertical line of the "T" and a back slash. However, the treble symbol has two back slashes crossing at the center of the vertical line and is also a longer basic stitch.

Step 9

Read the first row symbol pattern instructions. For instance, if the foundation chain calls for 10 chain stitches, the pattern most likely illustrates 10 ovals horizontally sitting side-by-side. If the first row, indicated with an arrow, asks for single crochet stitches, the pattern most likely illustrates the cross symbol horizontally positioned above the oval chain symbols. Always remember, patterns generally combine symbols and shorthand abbreviations along with row-by-row written instructions to ease the crochet-making experience.

Tips & Warnings

  • Draw and make a reference copy of the symbols for your patterns.


  • Crochet n More: How to Read a Crochet Pattern
  • "Crochet Workshop: The Complete Course for the Beginner to Intermediate Crocheter"; Emma Seddon and Sharon Brant; 2008
  • "Crochet Bouquet: Easy Designs for Dozens of Flowers"; Suzann Thompson; 2008

About the Author

Mercedes Valladares is the founder of M721Organics and has been an independent designer for over 15 years. Her work experience commenced during college with manufacturers based in New York and Hong Kong. Her education includes LIM College, International Fine Arts College and design certification from the Paris Fashion Institute. She produces eco-crafting videos and writes recycling articles online.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/ Images