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How to Read Crochet Charts – From Help! to Hooray!

Posted on 22-12-2020 by Janita van Rijnsbergen

Don’t worry, you’re certainly not the first or the only one to balk at the sight of a crochet chart. All those symbols; what are you supposed to do with them?! In this blog post, we share the benefits of being able to read crochet charts to motivate you, reveal what each symbol means, and take you through—in detail—how to read such a chart. Ready? Let’s go…
 

The benefits of a crochet chart


Let’s kick things off with some of the biggest advantages of a crochet chart, also known as a crochet diagram or symbol chart. A crochet chart uses a set of universal crochet symbols to represent a pattern. And therein lies its greatest value: it doesn’t matter what language the written pattern is in, whether English, French, or other foreign language, if it comes with a chart, you can crochet it!

A chart is a very handy tool, even if you’re an English-speaker and the pattern is in English. The differences between US and UK crochet terminology can lead to all sorts of confusion for those not ‘crochet-bilingual’. If the designer hasn’t explicitly said which terminology their pattern uses, a brief glance at the chart will tell you which it is. A chart also helps clarify any ambiguous language in the written pattern itself. Designers have their own styles and often use their own conventions. Does the designer mean you should crochet two double crochets in one stitch or two consecutive double crochets? The crochet chart will indicate which it is.
 

Crochet symbols explained


Have you found the perfect crochet pattern, but it’s in Japanese or Russian? No problem, as long as there’s a crochet chart. With a few exceptions, crochet symbols are universal, meaning the same symbols are used worldwide. Then there’s the added bonus that crochet patterns, even the most complicated ones, generally only use basic stitches. It’s how they are combined that creates the rich variety of motifs. The most common of these basic stitches are chain stitches, slip stitches, single crochets, double crochets, and treble crochets. Here are the corresponding symbols for the stitches you are most likely to encounter on your crochet journey:

How to read a crochet chart


And now for the most important part: How do you read a crochet chart? Let us explain it to you with the help of that ol’ crochet favorite, a granny square. An oh-so-versatile, much-loved classic that can be used for blankets, cushions, bags, clothing and so much more.

Here you have a granny square with the corresponding crochet chart. This granny square is worked in the round. At its center, you have a magic ring. From there, the granny square is crocheted outwards for a total of 5 rounds. Each number marks the beginning of a round. You ‘read’ each round in an anti-clockwise direction. We used Yarn and Colors Epic in 5 different colors and a 5 mm hook.

Round 1 (Color 084 Pistachio): Start by making a magic ring. That’s represented by the circle in the center. Round 1 is crocheted into the center of this magic ring, starting at ‘1’ and working anti-clockwise. Just to the left of the ‘1’ are 3 circles stacked on top of each other. These are 3 chain stitches. Then you have 2 double crochets. Then 1 chain stitch. Then 3 double crochets. Then 1 chain stitch. Then 3 double crochets. Then 1 chain stitch. Then 3 double crochets. Then 1 chain stitch. As you can see, you have now reached the green dot, the symbol for a slip stitch. Its position on the chart tells you that you need to slip stitch into the topmost of the 3 chain stitches you worked at the beginning of this round. Fasten off your yarn.
Round 2 (Color 052 Orchid): Join the new color in one of the corners. That is where round 2 begins. As you can see to the left of the ‘2’, you once again begin this round with 2 chain stitches. The next double crochets are worked around the chain stitch from the previous round. Work 2 double crochets, 1 chain stitch and 3 double crochets. Moving on to the next corner, work 3 double crochets, 1 chain stitch and 3 double crochets (once again around the chain stitch from the previous round). Repeat this 2 more times for the other 2 corners. Close round 2 with a slip stitch (the purple dot) in the topmost of the first 3 chain stitches of this round. Fasten off. 
Round 3 (Color 073 Jade Gravel): Join the new color in one of the corner chain spaces and begin the round just as you did the previous ones. So, chain 3 and work 2 double crochets, 1 chain stitch, 3 double crochets (all around the corner chain stitch of the previous round). *On the long side, work 3 double crochets in the space between 2 groups of double crochets from the previous round. Then, for the next corner, work 3 double crochets, 1 chain stitch and 3 double crochets around the corner chain stitch of the previous round.* Repeat the pattern between the asterisks, until you reach the corner where you began the round. Close the round with a slip stitch (the blue dot) in the topmost of the first 3 chain stitches. Fasten off. 
Round 4 (Color 038 Peony Pink): This round is worked in essentially the same way as the previous round. Join the new color in one of the corners. Chain 3 to begin and work 2 double crochets, 1 chain stitch and 3 double crochets (around the corner chain stitch of the previous round). *On the long side, work 3 double crochets in the space between 2 groups of double crochets from the previous round. Skip 3 double crochets, then work 3 double crochets again between the next 2 groups of double crochets from the previous round. Then, for the corner, work 3 double crochets, 1 chain stitch and 3 double crochets around the corner chain stitch of the previous round.* Repeat the pattern between the asterisks, until you reach the corner where you began the round. Close the round with a slip stitch (the pink dot) in the topmost of the first 3 chain stitches. Fasten off. 
Round 5 (Color 081 Lettuce): You’re nearly there! Work the same stitches in the corners as you did in the previous rounds. On the long sides, you once again work 3 double crochets between the groups of double crochets. You do so 3 times per side in this round. Fasten off for the last time after the closing slip stitch. Your granny square is done! 


Free crochet pattern shawl (with crochet chart!)


So, how was that? Crochet charts are a breeze to work with once you get the hang of it, right? If you’re feeling up for a fun challenge, then we have just the thing: a free crochet pattern from Katia, the Australis shawl.

Katia Australis Shawl
Hot off the press: Katia Australis. Made from 70% acrylic and 30% wool, this yarn will keep you toasty warm on cold days. There’s a whopping 600 meters on the ball, so you only need 1 ball to make this brightly colored shawl. A special treat in the shape of a free pattern from Katia, just for you. The shawl is worked in rows back and forth, so you read the crochet chart slightly differently from the one for the granny square. The odd rows are read from right to left and the even rows from left to right. You also only turn your work after you have crocheted the first 3 chain stitches of each row.  

To begin, chain 4 and slip stitch in the first chain to close into a ring. You’re now ready to start row 1. As you can see on the chart, the rows are alternately colored gray and black. This is to help you see which stitches belong to which row. Row 1 consists of 3 chain stitches (these count as 1 double crochet), 5 double crochets, 2 chain stitches and 6 double crochets. Row 2: Chain 3, turn your work. Work 2 double crochets in the first stitch. Work 1 double crochet in each of the next 5 double crochets from the previous row. Work 2 double crochets around the chain stitches of the previous row, then chain 2, and work another 2 double crochets around the same chain stitches of the previous row. Work 1 double crochet in each of the next 5 double crochets. Finally, work 3 double crochets in the topmost of the first 3 chain stitches of the previous row. 

Continue following the chart for rows 3 – 14. After that, you repeat the pattern beginning with row 1 again. The section of the pattern to be repeated is always marked and labelled on chart with an ‘R’. As you can see in this particular pattern, the repeat includes all the rows. Therefore, you begin row 15 with 3 chain stitches and 2 double crochets in the first stitch, then 1 double crochet in each stitch until you reach the point. At the point, work 2 double crochets around the chain stitches, then chain 2 and work 2 more double crochets in the same chain space. Then work 1 double crochet in each stitch until you reach the last stitch (the topmost of the 3 chain stitches from the previous row), in which you work 3 double crochets. 

Simply keep working this 14-row repeat until your ball of yarn is finished. Then all you have left to do is fasten off and weave in the ends. Et voilà, your eye-catching shawl is ready to wear!

Inspire us and others


And that concludes this crash-course; crochet charts are no longer a complete mystery to you! Have you hooked up the Australis shawl or have you tackled another fabulous project with your new crochet-chart-reading skills? We’d love to see your creations! Please share them with us on our Facebook page or Instagram with #yarnplaza/@yarnplaza and inspire us and others.

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