Learn to Read a Crochet Diagram

%MINIFYHTML827e11d2f337aa633bb2a493cce1384c9%by Alison Stapleton%MINIFYHTML827e11d2f337aa633bb2a493cce1384c10%

Features of a crochet diagram pattern

In general

Reading a written crochet pattern assumes many things.

Such as:

  • That you can read English
  • That you use either UK or USA stitch names
  • That the pattern is written correctly
  • That the pattern instructions are clear

Let’s look at each one by itself.

It assumes that – you speak English

I speak English as probably you do to as you are reading this. But I also like to use patterns from other countries.

I think the Japanese crochet diagrams are the best. They are clear and precise and I don’t have to read Japanese to use the patterns.

Likewise, if I design a crochet garment and I only write the pattern in English words, then other world wide crocheters can’t read my work.

I want my designs to be used by all crocheters and that is why I write the pattern in English and draw the crochet stitch diagram to go with it.

Almost every pattern on my site and my books are both written and have a diagram.

It assumes that – you know the difference between a UK or USA stitch

The difference between UK and USA crochet stitches and why the diagram is clear.

The UK double crochet and treble crochet are the same as the USA single crochet and double crochet.

The actual stitch is the same but the name of the stitch is different.

Double Crochet (USA) is the same as Treble Crochet (UK)

  • Yarn over hook (two loops on hook)
  • Insert hook into stitch below.
  • Yarn over hook, and pull through stitch below (three loops on hook)
  • Yarn over hook, pull through two loops (two loops remain on hook).
  • And then, yarn over hook, pull through two loops (two loops remain on hook).
  • Yarn over hook, pull through last two loops (one loop remains on hook).

It assumes that – the pattern is written correctly

In a written crochet pattern there are lines of code for the pattern rows. Such as:

RSF R1, yoh (rep5.) 3tr, 2ch 1FPst (rep. from * to * 8 times) turn.

Now in the above sentence (if it is a sentence), any error in the typing (a typo) will create an error in the pattern. And the crafter will not be able to complete the garment because she can’t read the pattern.

In a long pattern with motives, sections and finished borders there could be over 100 lines of pattern instruction. One line will create a problem and often there are two or three errors in a pattern.images-1

This makes the whole job a frustration and the crocheter may give up and (this is the worse part), tell others that your patterns are always incorrect and they should avoid them.

This is not good if you are in the business of selling patterns.

It assumes that – the instructions are clear

There comes a time in written crochet patterns when they will benefit from more explanation. This is achieved by expanding on the instructions and writing instructions in plain English.

We can all do with clarity at times. And crochet patters are no exception.

If a pattern is too hard to understand because of how it is written then it will not work. That pattern is no good.

Crochet diagrams symbols

Diagram symbols

In diagram a there is one symbol for every stitch.images


Slip stitch

Double crochet

Treble crochet

Each symbol is drawn separately.

Diagram rows

Each row is numbered.

Every row has an arrow indicating which way the row is worked. Either left to right, right to left or in the round.

Typically each Rosie drawn in a different color so you ca clearly see which row you are on. Here I use black and blue to separate the rows.

Benefits of crochet pattern diagrams

A picture is worth a thousand words. And this is true of crochet diagrams.

  • Uses left brain of visual imagery.
  • Designer can be non-native English speaker.
  • The diagram can be read by everyone on earth.
  • Clarity uses less space. One page for each project.
  • Can be printed bigger for older eyes.
  • Kids can use them.

You may also like:

How to Use Pattern and Colour in Crochet

by Alison Stapleton

Many crochet projects use pattern and color to add to the beauty of the item

Crochet excels at being flexible and there are so many patterns and color ways to choose from it can become overwhelming at times.

Knowing when to use either pattern or color is important to the aesthetic integrity of your item.

It is not usual to mix pattern and color changes together in the same garment.

When to use pattern stitches

imagesUse a pattern stitch with a yarn that is a plain solid color.

Use a pattern stitch for a garment that is one color all over.

Do not use pattern with a variegated yarn and do not use pattern with multiple colors as you can’t see the beauty of the pattern in amongst the color changes.

  • An example of pattern over color is this intricate white square.

When to use color combinations

IMG_1855Color is best used on plain stitch items where the stitches are all the same and the color changes and combinations add to the beauty of the item.

  • An example of color over pattern stitches is the granny square.

By spending some time choosing your color and patterns wisely you can vastly improve your handcrafted crocheted items.

Crochet Hooks

 by Alison Stapleton

Crochet Hook Sizes

Crochet hooks are measured in different sizes and the two types of measurement are metric and imperial.


Metric Size Hooks (UK)

Metric hook sizes are measured in millimeters (mm).

This refers to the diameter of the hook.

Such as:

1.25mm, 2mm, 3.5mm, 4mm, 4.5mm, 5mm, 5.5mm, 6mm, 7mm, 8mm, 9mm, 10mm, 1mm, 15mm and 20mm.


Imperial Size Hooks (USA)

Imperial sizes are usually feet and inches and in this case crochet hooks are given a letter of the alphabet.

Crochet Hook Size Chart

Old US sizes


A02.00 mm
B12.25 mm
C22.75 mm
D33.25 mm
E43.50 mm
F53.75 mm
G64.00 mm
74.50 mm
H85.00 mm
I95.5 mm
J106 mm
K10 ½6.5 mm
L118 mm
M139 mm
N / P1510 mm
O12 mm
P / Q15 mm
Q16 mm
R19 mm
S25 mm

Hook materials

Crochet hooks can be made from many materials but the usual ones are:

  • Steel
  • Aluminium
  • Bamboo
  • Hardwood
  • Plastic
  • Glass

Bamboo and plastic crochet hooks bend and this can slow you down. The best hooks are made from steel, aluminum or hard woods like rosewood.

Aluminum crochet hooks come in different colors for each size so you can see immediately the difference between a 4.5mm hook and a 5mm hook.

Collecting hooks

Over time you will collect many crochet hooks in different sizes and also hooks in the same size so you can have one for each project or every place which you crochet.


For example I have one crochet hook in the kitchen drawer for squares and one in the car also for squares.

I also have a hook next to my chair in front of the TV for the bigger projects and blankets.


by Alison Stapleton

A Good Yarn

Yarns are long stories told over a campfire, sipping hot chocolate at the end of the day.

Yarns are all wool acrylics and threads used in crochet. A yarn is a general term for all the types of wool, cotton and blends that you will used once you pick up your crochet hook.

Natural Yarns

All natural yarns come from plants or animals.

To be listed as 100% wool for example they have to be made 100% from the fleece of a sheep.

Many natural yarns are blends. Blended yarns are either made with other natural yarns, like cotton or silk, or synthetic yarns like acrylic for durability.

Natural yarns are biodegradable and will eventually rot away. They are safe for the planet.

This is why we don’t have many examples of ancient crochet garments.

Animal based yarns


Wool comes from sheep. It is made from the fleece of a ewe (a female sheep) which is shorn or cut off every year. This process is called shearing.

Shearing does not hurt the animal it is rather like cutting your hair.

Fleece is spun into wool hanks which are long loops of wool. The hanks are twisted and then may be rolled into balls.

Wool was originally spun on a spinning wheel but now mostly by machine. Some communities still spin their own wool from their own sheep.

Wool has superb warming capabilities and a jersey made from 100% wool is warm and cozy although it can be a bit scratchy.

Wool has a distinctive smell when wet. Wool will shrink in a hot wash.


Cotton comes from a plant. It is grown as a crop and harvested once a year. Cotton fields are planted is warmer areas and although it is a natural product many chemicals are used in the bleaching of cotton. Cotton will shrink in a hot wash. Although often cotton is sold “preshrunk.”

Raw cotton is very rough to use in crochet.

Mercerized cotton threads have been smoothed to aid a free flow over the hook when crocheting. Mercerized cotton has a pleasant sheen.


Silk comes from silkworms. After the worm has wound one long thread around it’s body, in a figure eight pattern, the silk worm farmer picks the end of the silk thread and winds it onto a bobbin. This does kill the silk worm.

Each thread of silk is washed and dyed and may be spun with other fibers to create a thicker yarn.

Plant based yarns

Banana silk

Banana silk is made from the fronds leaves of the banana plant strelitzia nicolai

It is a slightly rough texture and good for rugs and mats. There is a sheen to the yarn.


Bamboo is a plant. The inner fibers are cut out and washed and spun into either a 100% bamboo yarn or it is mixed with other natural or synthetic fibers. Bamboo is grown in regrowth forests and takes little from the natural world.


Is a plant and has many uses. It is most often seen as hessian or burlap sacks from grain.

Synthetic yarns

All synthetic yarns are man made. Synthetic yarns first became widely available in the1800’s. Victorians used silks and cottons and wools.


Nylon was originally created in both New York (NY) and London, England (LON) at the same time. Nylon is a basis for many synthetic yarns.


Rayon is a derivative or nylon and has a dry silky feel and sheen.


Acrylic yarns can be a blend of several man made yarns twisted to form the length of yarn. Acrylic yarns wash well and hold their colours well. Acrylics are often used in children’s clothes. Acrylics are used for durability.

Mixed yarns

Mixed yarns are a combination of either natural or synthetic yarns.

Often they combine 2% silk with cotton or bamboo to give the yarn a silky feel.

Wool is combined with acrylics for cost purposes as natural wool is expensive.

Yarn thicknesses

Yarns purchased today often conform to the standard thickness symbols for the weight.

The thicker the yarn the bigger the crochet hook you need, and the thinner the yarn the thinner the hook you need.


When wool is spun the finest thread is known as lace and moving up the scale the manufacturers combine two three or four threads together in the manufacture of thicker yarns.

Yarns come in different thicknesses. They each have a name and are used for different things.

The thicker the yarn the thicker the hook.

Do not use a thin hook with thick yarn or a thick hook with a thin yarn.

As a rule the thickness of the yarns should be the same as the diameter of the hook.

Yarn weight and category names

Yarns have been categorized by their thickness. Most yarns conform to these symbols and you can swop out the recommended yarns for each pattern by using a yarn in the same weight as the suggested yarns.

In this way if you don’t have the specific ball of wool you can make adjustments and use a yarn of a similar weight to obtain the same results as the item in the pattern.

0 = Lace (fingerling), use hook 1.00 mm – 1.50 mm

1 = Superfine (sock), use hook 2.50 mm – 3.50 mm

2 = Fine (baby or 4 ply), use hook 3.50 mm – 4.50 mm

3 = Light (double knitting or DK), use hook 4.50 mm – 5.50 mm

4 = Medium (worsted, Afghan or Aran), use hook 5.50 mm – 6.50 mm

5 = Bulky (bulky or rug), use hook 6.50 mm – 9.00 mm

6 = Super bulky (super bulky), use hook 9.00 mm – 15.0 mm

7 = Jumbo (jumbo), use hook 15.00 mm or larger

1ply Fingerling

This is the fine thread that comes from a spinning wheel. It is the basis of all yarn weights. This is also referred to a floss. It is as thin as dental floss.

It is used is light and airy shawls and christening shawls.


Used for socks and light baby shawls.


3ply is used for socks and thin under garments. It is used for Scottish Fair Isle where two colors are used at ones and the spare color is carried over.

So the actual garment is thicker because of the two threads.


4ply is used with a 3.5mm hook and is a popular yarn weight.

4ply is good for cool summer tops and light garments.

Sport (Double knitting) (worsted)

Double knitting is used in many projects for nursery cardigans blankets and is easy to buy. Double knitting uses 5mm hooks.

Chunky or Bulky

Chunky and thick yarns you can use an 8mm, 9mm or 10mm hook.

Chunky yarns are great for afghans, chair covers and thick jerseys, coats and scarves

Extra Chunky Extra Bulky

Extra chunky yarn will use the biggest hooks. Such as a 12mm, 15mm or 20mm hook.

Extra chunky is used for baskets, rugs and mats.

In Thickness and in Thin

The thinner the yarn the thinner the hook, and the thicker the yarn the thicker the hook.

Shawls are Triangles

Triangle shawls

To my mind a shawl is a triangle with three sides.

A wrap is an oblong with four sides where two are long and two are short.

So all my shawls are triangles and all my wraps are rectanglIMG_1838es.

This purple shawl (note the triangle) in the image is available on my Etsy shop Old English Creations.

I invite you to stop by and have a look.