Here it is, our latest guest blog written by the lovely Claire. If you have ever struggled with deciphering crochet diagrams then this one is for you. You can even enlist the help of the ever trusty Crochet Project Bible!
I love crochet, I can’t lie, I can still remember sitting in my parents front room, aged about 7, being patiently taught by my grandmother and feeling so proud. Crochet has been a big part of my crafting life ever since.
I crocheted a 2 ply peacock’s eye design christening gown for my niece, she’s got a young family of her own now! I made clothes for my dolls and those of my daughter; she’s all grown up and married now.
So, as my circle evolved so have my projects. Now I make personalised blankets that hit just the right spot and little blankets for the premature baby unit, at Christmas I made sprouts and currently I’m designing and making flowers and a stained glass window impressionist blanket. For me crochet brings together all the joys of colour, texture, creating and practical making into one big bundle of crafty goodness.
Crochet patterns were always harder to find, the ratio of knitting patterns to crochet was about 10:1 in the late 70s/early 80s and, today, whilst access to patterns seems easier, with online sites offering downloadable patterns; many people are struggling where the patterns are pictorial with no verbal instructions. It’s understandable in some ways because typing out the written instructions does take a while but, when you’re learning they are invaluable so it’s worthwhile writing out your own until you feel more confident with stitches and shaping etc.
So, how do you work with a picture when what you really want is a written pattern to lead you stitch by stitch? Here’s some tips:
Start at the very beginning……
Look at the diagram and breathe. At first it looks like some bizarre electrical diagram so take it row by row. If it’s a shape, like a granny square or a hat, your work will start in the middle, if it’s a flat item such as a blanket, cushion cover, garment or edging the work will start at one edge.
Look for the Chain and magic loop symbols, these are literally the very foundations of every project.
Once you’ve found the foundation chain or magic loop think about the shape you are making, the number of stitches you’ll require will be dictated by how many sides and corners it has when working from the middle
Square motifs have 4 sides and 4 corners so the number of stitches is divisible by 4 with 4 corners
Triangular motifs have 3 sides so the number of stitches divisible by 3 with 3 corners
If it’s a flat item the designer may have written the number of foundation chain you need to start with on the diagram, if not you will need to count. Take your time and mark off each 10th stitch as you go, then, if you lose count you can easily re-count.
Use your stitch cheat sheet in your Crochet project bible to decide what each symbol means, symbols are fairly universal. Be sure to decide if you’re using UK or USA stitches though and stick with it for all your stitches all the way through.
Decipher what you can, write it out if you prefer written instructions and write it in a way that you understand. If you use abbreviations there is a useful stitch terminology cheat sheet in the bible too.
Remember to work enough turning chain at the beginning of your row to keep the height of all your stitches even.
Be prepared to experiment, once you think you’ve got it sussed, give it a go and see how it works, looks and feels, if it’s not quite right you can always undo it and try again
So let’s work on an example.
Handily there is an arrow on the diagram to show us the middle/start point and, if you look closely, each row is numbered to help you keep on track
I have written this out in longhand to start with
Foundation row (black in diagram): 4 foundation chains and a slip stitch to make a ring
Row 1 (grey in diagram): 5 chain, work following stitches into foundation ring. 3 treble, 2 chain, 3 treble, 2 chain, 3 treble, 2 chain, 2 treble slip stitch into 3rd chain of stating chain. Do Not Turn
Row 2 (Black in diagram): 5 chain, 3 treble into first 2 chain space next to hook, * 1 chain, 3 treble, 2 chain, 3 treble in next 2 chain space ** repeat from * to ** twice more then 1 chain, 2 treble in starting 2 chain space slip stitch to join to starting chain. Do Not Turn
See if you can work out the next row.
Row 3 (Grey in diagram): 5 chain, 3 treble into first 2 chain space next to hook, * 1 chain, 3 treble in next two chain space, 1 chain, 3 treble, 2 chain, 3 treble in next 2 chain space** repeat from * to ** twice more then 1 chain, 3 treble in next 2 chain space, 1 chain, 2 treble in first 2 chain space slip stitch to join to starting chain. Do Not Turn
And now in shorthand
Ch 4, sl st to first ch to form ring
Row 1: Ch 5 and into ring work 3 Tr, Ch2, 3 Tr, Ch 2, 3 Tr, Ch 2, 2 Tr sl st to 3rd ch Do Not Turn
Row 2: Ch 5, work 3 Tr into 1st chain space next to hook then *(Ch 1, 3 Tr, Ch 2, 3 Tr) into next chain space, repeat from * around ending with Ch 1, 2Tr, Sl St into 3rd ch Do Not Turn.
Now you’re deciphering patterns like a pro!
The crochet pattern world is at your fingertips and, with a little patience and practice, you’ll be creating beautiful pieces all of your own.
Until next time, have fun and Happy Hooking!
Claire Cutler-Casey loves all kinds of hobby crafts especially crochet, cross stitch and writing. She makes time in her crafting schedule to run her own traditional medicine practice in the beautiful village of Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire. She also enjoys walking with her little dog Terry.