One of the hardest things to get your head around in crochet is the way in which a pattern is written. Don’t worry if it takes you a few times to understand how the stitches come together with the written shorthand.

Along with the shortened names of stitches, patterns can also be presented in a visual way, called a stitch symbol chart or diagram. You will see both in this guide, as some people find it best to learn one way then match it to the other. The stitch diagram can also help you to understand the shape of the piece.

Each pattern you see should come with a list of the stitches and their abbreviations. They may not tell you how to do these stitches unless they are less commonly known, or ‘special’. We’ll get to those stitches in the later weeks, and for the purpose of this course, each square will come with a written shorthand for each stitch. There is also an illustrated guide, and you can see videos and photos on the week’s hub online at

Let’s break down what you will commonly see in a pattern, and what it means in situ.


∙  Using MC: using your main colour. You may also be told to use Col A, Colour 1 or CC (Contrast Colour). It will be made clear to you in the pattern info before you begin which colours this means.

◊  ch 21: refers to the number of chains the pattern requires you to make to get started.



∙  When working in rows, the first instruction to ch1 is referring to what is known as a turning chain – the number of stitches you need to ‘build’ to achieve the height of the row you are about to start to avoid it looking wonky. This will be different depending on how tall the stitch is. Typically you’re looking at 1 for a dc, 2 for a htr, 3 for a tr. We’ll get to these taller stitches next week!

◊  When you see an * in a pattern, it means you will be repeating the selection of stitches after it until the instruction to rep from it. In this example, you would do 2 double crochets, then one treble crochet repeatedly until the end.



∙  Round brackets are used to show when more than one stitch is completed into the same space at once. This could be into the top of a stitch, between stitches or in a chain space.

◊  For taller stitches, the turning chain will often count as one of the stitches that you count for that round or row. Your pattern will often only tell you once, or if the rule changes.

-  The number of times mentioned after a repeat is typically the total number of times that you have to do the action, including the first time. Some pattern writers will say ‘repeat 2 more times’ in which instance, you would do this 3 times in total.



∙  Square brackets will be used to indicate where there are different numbers of stitches or repeats based on the size. This could be in the middle of the row, or in the instructions after the row, so be careful to read it correctly based on the size you are making. The sizes will be outlined in the beginning of the pattern.


A lot of crochet notation is about being careful when you read. Make sure you read through the pattern before you begin so you don’t get any surprises. There can sometimes be a number of repeating rounds or rows for a certain number of times, so be careful to make sure you are doing this correctly.