Learn to Read a Pattern: Parts of a Pattern

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Last week, we talked about some common abbreviations that you will see in crochet patterns. Abbreviations aren’t the only things you need to know in looking at a pattern you might want to make, though. (If you need a refresher on the abbreviations, that post is here.)

Let’s take a look at a pattern and dissect the different parts of it. The parts every crochet pattern has are:
– Photo of the finished item.
– Materials/supplies needed
– Special instructions
– Notes
– Gauge
– Instructions/the pattern
– Charts/diagrams/schematics

Photo of the Finished Item

You want to know what it is you’re making. Sometimes it isn’t enough to know you’re making a scarf. That’s obvious. You want to now what this specific scarf is supposed to look like.

Materials/Supplies Needed

You obviously need yarn for a crochet pattern, but what kind of yarn?

The kind of yarn isn’t limited to what brand. It’s also what weight and what fiber. Sometimes you can substitute fibers., so that might not be as vital. You can’t substitute a different weight, though, without getting a very different result.

Even if you follow the same pattern, a scarf made with DK yarn (a 3 weight) will look very different from one made with a bulky yarn (a 5 weight).

Supplies will also include any buttons a astern might call for a tapestry needle for weaving in ends, and scissors for cutting your yarn. If specific counting is involved, supplies might also include stitch markers.

Special Instructions

Remember last week we talked about how some special stitches might be mentioned by the designer? Those would be listed under this section They might call it “special stitches” instead of “special instructions.” Regardless of what it’s called, it’s the same thing.


If the designer has anything else for you to consider while you work the pattern, they will put them here. One example is if the turning chain counts as a stitch in the previous row. Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, it will be indicated in this section. If it doesn’t mention it, then the turning chain counts as the first stitch in the next row.


The gauge dictates the size of the project. Your gauge is determined by the size of the hook and the kind of yarn you use. The designer will say how many stitches and how many rows you get in a 4” square. An example is be “12 stitches x 14 rows = 4”.


This is the meat of the pattern. This tells you row by row what stitches to do. There are often some special symbols used in this section.
{ … } : Do what is in the parenthesis a set number of times (that number appears immediately after the parenthesis.
* : repeat from the asterisk
[ … ] : often used in conjunction with the parenthesis above and is a repeat done within the parenthesis

If there is anything else the designer uses as a symbol that you need to know,, you’ll usually be told in the notes section.


This section is not included with all patterns.

The chart is included if there is a set of symbols showing the various stitches with the pattern. (I will do a future post on charts and stitch symbols, but that’s not coming for a while.)

Diagrams are useful if you’re doing a blanket pattern with a lot of squares or other motifs that have to joined together. The diagram will show you how the pieces fit to get the design indicated in the finished photo.

Schematics are typically only shown for wearables. If you make a sweat her or a shawl, there is a diagram showing the basic outline of the item and what the finished measurements are.

Pattern Basics

These are the basics of a completed pattern. Next week, I’ll take one of mine and show you, bit by bit how each section works together. Often, if one piece is missing, it affects the quality of the pattern as a whole, unless its an optional section.

I would like to know if any of this is helpful to you. Leave me a comment below if you have any questions or if you’ve learned anything useful.

One thought on “Learn to Read a Pattern: Parts of a Pattern”

  1. Pingback: Learn to Crochet: Reading a Pattern Jen Nipps Online

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