What is it?
Crochet Stitch Charts are a visual representation of the physical stitches you make with your hook and yarn.
Think of the Written Crochet Pattern and the Crochet Stitch Chart as two complimentary pieces to your work. The Written Crochet Pattern describes the stitches and the Crochet Stitch Chart shows you the stitches.
Each physical and written stitch has a corresponding symbol that represents that stitch. To read a Crochet Stitch Chart, all you have to remember is:
See a symbol, make a stitch!
Crochet Stitch Charts are most helpful as a visual aid. They give a visual representation of both the written pattern and the physical stitches you make. This comes in particularly handy when learning a new stitch pattern or when one encounters a complex stitch or one that requires a lot of dense text.
When learning a new stitch pattern, Crochet Stitch Charts are helpful to make sure you are making the physical stitch the written pattern intends you to make. Again, the Crochet Stitch Chart is a visual representation of that written pattern so you can use it as a guide to make sure you are putting your stitches together correctly.
When you encounter a stitch pattern that has a LOT of dense text, Crochet Stitch Charts can be a much easier way or "reading" the pattern. For example, in the case of a complicated lace pattern, you can look at the Crochet Stitch Chart and know right where your next stitch goes without going back and forth between a dense section of text. You can look at your work and see if it matches up with the Crochet Stitch Charts and know right away if there are any errors. The same holds true for a dense set of text for a cable pattern. You can easily follow along visually with the Crochet Stitch Chart to ensure you are producing the stitches to create the finished design the written pattern describes.
No special materials or tools to make today's tutorial! All you need to do is follow along. If you want to stitch along, you can grab your favorite hook and yarn and make the stitches using the chart as we go. Doing this will definitely help develop the pathways in your brain that will make you a Crochet Stitch Chart reading MASTER!
Single Crochet Stitch
Half Double Crochet Stitch
Double Crochet Stitch
1. Chain Stitch
We'll start with the base of our chart. This is not a flying saucer. Nope… we're not going all X-Files on y'all. This little oval is a chain stitch. You will see this symbol used many ways in Crochet Stitch Charts – just as you use chain stitches in many ways when you are stitching.
See a symbol, make a stitch!
When you see this symbol in a Crochet Stitch Chart, you make one Chain Stitch for every one of these symbols you see.
2. Base Chain
In a typical Crochet Stitch Chart, you will see this along the bottom of the chart. This is, of course, your Starting Chain or Base Chain that starts your stitch or pattern.
Now, if y'all follow along with our patterns and tutorials, you know we use a Foundation Stitch base for our stitches and patterns. Don't fret… we'll get to those and how to convert back and forth between Base Chains and Foundation Stitches in our next post.
For this section of the Crochet Stitch Chart, you can see there are 10 chain symbols laid end-to-end horizontally. Remember: See a symbol, make a stitch! To make this part of the Crochet Stitch Chart, you will make 10 Chain Stitches.
But wait… what's that at the end??
Which, brings us to the next step in our deciphering of the Crochet Stitch Chart…
5. Here in our Crochet Stitch Chart, we have moved on to Row 1, which, as you can see, is a row of Single Crochet Stitches. Ten Single Crochet Stitches to be precise.
Follow along with where we are so far:
First, we worked eleven Chain Stitches using the last of those as the Step Up Chain to start Row 1.
Next, we turned our work to prepare to make Row 1. See those little arrows to the left and right of the symbols? Those arrows indicate the working direction of your rows. While these arrows are not always included in a Crochet Stitch Chart, there will be at least a row number on alternating sides. Don't stress about that for now… more on that in another post. For now, follow the happy little arrows!
"…single crochet in second chain from hook, single crochet in each stitch to end of row, turn."
If you look at our Crochet Stitch Chart, you'll see each of those Single Crochet stitches are made in one of Base Chain stitches. Each of the Single Crochet stitches sets nicely on top of a Base Chain stitch indicating that is exactly where you place your hook to make your Single Crochet Stitch. See a symbol, make a stitch! See how easy that is?!?
7. Back to our Crochet Stitch Chart, we are on Row 2.
Check out the beginning of the row where there is a Step Up Chain telling us to chain 1 to step up to make the next row. Yes, we only make 1 chain to step up a row of Half Double Crochet stitches. Why? Because we find that is high enough for us. Also, we make a Half Double Crochet stitch in the very first stitch of the row rather than using the Step Up Chain to count as the first stitch of the row. Neat and tidy. No wonky edges that look like they've been gnawed on by demented wombats!
Just like before, you can see how each of the Half Double Crochet stitches in Row 2 are made right in the top of each Single Crochet stitch from the previous row. Here you making one Half Double Crochet stitch for every Half Double Crochet stitch symbol. That gives you a total of ten Half Double Crochet stitches in Row 2.
Easy peasy! Moving on…
9. And now we've come to Row 3.
Now… this is where we are going to deviate a bit from what you all KNOW is our normal way of operating. If you have spent any time with us here, you know we would never use a Chain 3 at the beginning of a row for a Double Crochet stitch. That said, we are presenting this introductory lesson on how to read a Crochet Stitch Chart in the manner of a typical stitch chart. We will get into variations on the basic chart symbols later. For now, take a deep breath and know that we haven't wandered from the path of a First-Double Crochet Stitch for starting your row. What we are showing here is how you will see a typical stitch chart.
How to make the First-Double Crochet Stitch
That's the great thing about techniques… they give you options and you can employ them anytime you see fit. 'Nuff said… moving on… for now…
See a symbol, make a stitch!
You can see here that Row 3 is a total of ten Double Crochet stitches. You can also see that each of these Double Crochet stitches is made in the top of the Half Double Crochet stitch from the previous row.
That said… this is the basic intro… next time we will cover variations on the basic stacked stitches and get into some more complicated patterns. WOOHOO!!
If you are just starting out developing your crochet skillz, you now have the perfect base with which to build a more thorough knowledge for reading patterns. WOOHOO!!
If you have been reading patterns FOR-EH-VAR and never understood Crochet Stitch Charts, this is a good place to start retraining that part of your brain and increase your already FAB skill set.
As makers, we can only better ourselves when we explore different techniques and tools that help us work our craft. It might take a little patience to start from the beginning when we're already "advanced" or "have been crocheting for 120 years and never needed a chart before in my whole entire life why would I ever need such a thing?!?!?" But patience and learning pay off in a big way with increased understanding and improved skillz. And that's one of the BEST parts of being a maker… getting better at what we do!
Thanks for dropping by for another Technique Tuesday! Our goal is to build the skillz of our FAB fiber community here on the web and it's always great to hear from you all that what we are doing is helping you and your fiber friends.
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Oh hey… before you go… Here are a few more pages we thought you might be interested in. Click on any of the photos below… enjoy!
English Paper Piecing
International Crochet Month
National Craft Month
National Crochet Month
Shibaguyz Designz Indie Maker Pattern
Tools Of The Trade
Vogue Knitting LIVE
Warm Up America