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At first glance, crochet design and crochet instructions can appear to be quite intimidating. However, if you think of crochet instructions in terms of a recipe: follow the instructions one step at a time. Sometimes we read complicated recipes before we start cooking in order to get a better understanding of the cooking project ahead of you. For simpler recipes, we might only need to focus on one step at a time.

The same process goes for reading and understanding crochet instructions.

It doesn’t matter which route you take, as long as you remember that the purpose of crochet patterns is to help us create something gorgeous, not to scare or intimidate us.

Crochet instructions consist of abbreviations, punctuation marks, symbols and terms. In a way you could say crochet has its own language. Think of it as crochet shorthand—it’s a method that saves time and space, and is actually quite easy to read and understand once you learn it.

Most crochet patterns should have the information about materials, sizing, gauge, and stitch notes right at the top of the pattern.


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Crochet Design | Understanding Crochet Instructions- Abbreviations


With each pattern, book, leaflet, etc., a list of crochet abbreviations will be included. Familiarizing yourself with the common crochet abbreviations will allow you to effectively understand crochet shorthand. That’s why it’s wise to always carefully read through the list before starting any project. Below you’ll find a list of common abbreviations used in crochet and what they stand for in alphabetical order.


Further Info:

It’s important to note that some crochet patterns (especially in Europe and Asia), use symbols to represent each stitch or stitch cluster.


Abbreviation Description


  • alt                          alternate
  • approx                 approximately
  • beg                        begin/beginning
  • bet                         between
  • BL                          back loop
  • blo or BLO          work through the back loop only
  • bo                           bobble
  • BP                           back post
  • BPdc or BPDC    back post double crochet
  • BPtr or BPTR      back post double treble crochet
  • BPhdc                   back post half double crochet
  • BPsc                       back post single crochet
  • BPtr                       back post treble crochet
  • CC                           contrasting color
  • ch or CH               chain stitch
  • ch-                          refer to chain or space previously made, e.g., ch-1 space
  • ch-sp or CH SP  chain space
  • CL                           cluster
  • cont                       continue
  • dc  or DC              double crochet
  • dc2tog                  double crochet 2 stitches together
  • dec                         decrease
  • dtr or DTR           double treble crochet
  • edc or EDC          extended double crochet
  • ehdc or EHDC    extended half double crochet
  • esc or ESC            extended single crochet
  • Est                          established
  • etr                          extended treble crochet
  • FL                           front loop
  • Flo or FLO           work through the front loop only
  • foll                         following
  • FP                          front post
  • FPdc or FPDC    front post double crochet
  • FPdtr or FPDTR front post double treble crochet
  • FPhdc                   front post half double crochet
  • FPsc                      front post single crochet
  • FPtr                       front post treble crochet
  • Fsc                         foundation single crochet
  • Hdc or HDC        half double crochet
  • hdc2tog               half double crochet 2 stitches together
  • hk                           hook
  • inc                          increase
  • lp                            loop
  • m                            marker
  • MC                         main color
  • pat or patt          pattern
  • patt st                   pattern stitch
  • pc                           popcorn stitch
  • pm                         place marker
  • prev                       previous
  • ps or puff            puff stitch
  • rem                        remaining
  • rep                         repeat
  • rnd                         round
  • RS                           right side
  • Sc or SC                single crochet
  • sc2tog                   single crochet 2 stitches together
  • sh                           shell
  • sk                           skip
  • sl st, Sl st, SL ST, or SS     slip stitch
  • sm or sl m           slip marker
  • sp or SP                space
  • st or ST                 stitch
  • tbl                          through back loop
  • tch or TCH or TC, t-ch                      turning/TURN chain
  • tog or TOG          together
  • Tps                         Tunisian simple stitch
  • tr or TR                 treble (triple) crochet
  • tr2tog                    treble crochet 2 stitches together
  • trtr                         triple treble crochet
  • Tss                          Tunisian simple stitch
  • WS                         wrong side
  • Yo or YO              yarn over
  • yoh                        yarn over hook


Crochet Design | Understanding Crochet Instructions- Symbols and Terms


★—the star symbol is used to shorten crochet instructions. You need to work all instructions following a ★ (star) as many more times as indicated in addition to the first.

†to †-the dagger symbol is also used to shorten crochet instructions. When you see this symbol, work all instructions from the † (dagger) to the second   †   as many times as specified.

now and throughout—this term counts as a stitch in the current round or row and in each round or row used with the same pattern.

right vs. left—this term refers to the side of the garment as if you were wearing it.

right side vs. wrong side—this term refers to the right side of your work. This is the side your will see when wearing the piece.

work across or around—indicates you need to continue working in the established pattern.


Crochet Design | Understanding Crochet Instructions-Sizing


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Patterns will indicate the sizing of a project with the smallest size followed by larger sizes contained in parenthesis, such as in:

Size: small (medium, large)

Chest measurement: 32-36 (38-42, 44-48) inches

If a pattern requires different instructions for different sizes, instructions will be given in a similar manner. Instructions for the first measurement will be followed by instructions for the larger measurements in parenthesis, such as in:

Work 20 (22, 24) sc. ch 41 (41, 47)

Be aware, some patterns (such as scarves and bags) may not indicate sizing.


Crochet Design | Understanding Crochet Instructions-Terminology


Depending where you’re located in the world will depend on which crochet terminology you use. Take a look below to see the difference between United States crochet terminology and International crochet terminology.




slip stitch (slip st) =                 single crochet (sc)

single crochet (sc) =                double crochet (dc)

half double crochet (hdc) =     half treble crochet (htr)

double crochet (dc) =               treble crochet (tr)

treble crochet (tr) =                 double treble crochet (dtr)

double treble crochet (dtr) =  triple treble crochet (ttr)

skip =                                          miss


Understanding Crochet Instructions-Punctuation


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Punctuation marks play a really important roles in crochet instructs, so it’s important to pay special attention to all punctuation marks in your patterns. Keep reading to find out three ways punctuation marks are used in crochet.

Always read from punctuation mark to punctuation mark in the same way you would in grammar

commas (,)—mean you need to pause and

semicolons (;)—mean you need to stop.

colon (:)—when you see a number following a colon at the end of the row or rounds indicate(s) the number of stitches and/or spaces you should have on that specific row or round.

braces {}—anything written between braces pertains to multiple sizes.

parentheses () or brackets []— parentheses and brackets indicate repetition, which means you should work the enclosed instructions as many times as specified by the number immediately following.


Example 1A:


When instructions read “[sc in next 3 sts, ch 4 (work double crochet in next st, ch 4) twice] 5 times,” the instructions in the parenthesis are repeated twice and the entire sequence enclosed by the brackets are repeated a total of 5 times.

Parenthesis and brackets can also indicate the need to work several stitches as a unit. So, in this case—you need to work all enclosed instructions in the stitch or space indicated.

Example 1B:


When instructions indicate “(sc, 3 dc, sc) in next ch-2 sp.,” then all stitches within the parenthesis should be worked into the next ch-2 sp.

Lastly, parenthesis and brackets may also contain helpful explanation notes.


Crochet Design | Understanding Crochet Instructions- Gauge


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Gauge refers to the number of stitches and rows or rounds per inch. Gauge is used to determine the size of your finished project. Most crochet patterns should specify the gauge you need to match to ensure proper size. It also helps ensure you have enough yarn to finish your project.

Tip: Gauge is important for any pattern for which size is important (such as slippers, hats, booties, etc.)

Before beginning any crochet project, it’s critical that you crochet the sample gauge swatch provided in the project instructions in the weight of yarn and crochet hook size suggested. Once you’ve finished your sample swatch, measure it. If your sample swatch is larger or smaller than the size indicated in the instructions, the gauge of your project will be incorrect.

Tip: Gauge information is located toward the beginning of a pattern.

When this happens, simply change your hook size and make a second sample swatch and measure. Continue this process until you’ve reached the correct gauge for your project.

Don’t be afraid to change your crochet hook size in order to maintain a correct gauge.

The gauge information included with a pattern can also be used to choose a different yarn from the one suggested in the pattern.


Crochet Design | Understanding Crochet Instructions-Hook Size vs. Tension


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In some instances you won’t need to change hook size to obtain the correct gauge. Instead, just adjust your tension. This can be a common problem when using larger crochet hooks. However, once you’ve obtained the correct gauge (using the tension method), you’ll need to measure the total width of your project every three to four inches to make sure your gauge has not changed.


Crochet Design | Understanding Crochet Instructions—Review and Final Words


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When it comes to understanding crochet instructions, just remember to take it step by step. Crocheting should be an enjoyable, relaxing experience!

Make sure to bookmark this guide so you can easily access it. If you found this article helpful, don’t forget to share and comment! Stay tuned for more fabulous crochet tutorials by Craftrina! Have a CROCHET-TASTIC day!








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