How to Follow a Stich Diagram: Crochet

Crochet Patterns

Many crocheters have seen diagrams using international stitch symbols to illustrate the construction of a crocheted item. Only some, however, fully understand how to use these diagrams, and others are not familiar with the symbol system at all.

First, it's important to understand that crochet uses a number of standard stitches. Arranging these stitches in a particular order creates the pattern or design of a crocheted piece. A symbol has been assigned to each stitch and these same symbols are used throughout the world. For your convenience, the symbols used in our sample diagram are shown at ythe bottom of this page. Our Stitches Pages

For example, the doily diagram below starts with 8 chain stitches which have been closed into a ring at the center of the doily with 1 slip stitch in the first of the 8 chain stitches. The number 8 appears in the center of the ring, advising the crocheter to start with 8 chain stitches. After the starting ring, the diagram shows numbers which are placed at the point where each subsequent round begins. Round 1 starts with chain 1 (used to begin single crochet rows or rounds), then 16 single crochet (represented by X's) are worked into the starting ring. Round 2 illustrates the directions of: (Dc, ch 1) in each sc around. Notice the 3 chain stitches shown at hte beginning of Round 2 which count as the first double crochet of the round. Then 1 more chain stitch is shown, which counts for the first space. Symbols for 1 double crochet, then 1 chain stitch progress in sequence around the stitches of Round 1.

Sample doily diagram

It's important to remember that stitch diagrams not only show the number and kind of stitches worked, but also their placement in the stitches of the previous row or round. Although every effort is made to make diagrams as accurate as possible, they cannot reflect subtle variations, such as working in the back loop only of specific stitches. In additino, patterns that are very 3-dimensional may need further clarification in the written instructions. For the best results, refer to both the written instructions and the diagrams. Occasionally, special stitches will be used to crochet a design. When a special stitch is used, the symbol for that stitch will appear with it's particular pattern.

Since crochet is usually symmetrical and many designs are quite large when fully illustrated, a diagram may only show a segment of the actual item. This segment is usually the pattern that is repeated evenly around or across the entire piece (see the shaded area on our sample doily). When working back and forth in rows, the diagram will show the pattern as it appears with the right side facing and corresponding row numbers will mark the beginning of each row.

Remember, stitch diagrams can be "read" in any language. Ascertaining the repeated pattern or the difficulty of a design is simple when using this visual aid. To make restarting your work easier after you have left it, mark the exact stitch on the diagram where you stopped. You can enlarge diagrams on a photocopy machine to make them easier to follow or copy diagrams to make your work more portable. If you have a favorite pattern, using copies will keep your originals in good condition.