Crochet patterns can look confusing at first. However, once you understand how a pattern works, and become familiar with the more common crochet stitches, you'll find reading crochet patterns one of the easiest aspects of crochet. Learning to read a crochet pattern will help you feel more confident when learning the basics of crochet.
Patterns can be written in several different ways. Crochet instructions can be written out in abbreviations, presented as symbols, or can be a combination of both. While it may take a while to learn the symbols, they can save space, and after awhile, many experienced crocheters find them easier to read. Another good thing about crochet symbols is that they are international, so no matter where the pattern comes from, the symbols will usually be the same.
If you are trying to read and understand a crochet pattern, the best way is to have both the written instructions and the symbols handy. You can purchase a variety of crochet books that will have many different patterns in them, this is a good way to work your way up from simple, to more complex patterns.
If a series of stitches doesn't making sense by following the written instructions, often the symbols can clarify what is actually meant. Crochet charts and symbols can help clarify written instructions. Some crocheting, such as lace, is actually much easier to follow using a chart, than reading written instructions.
Here are some of the common abbreviations used in crocheting:
sc single crochet
ch st chain stitch
hdc half-double crochet
dc double crochet
sl st slip stitch
trc triple crochet
yo yarn over
tr treble crochet
pat st pattern stitch
When reading crochet instructions, brackets and parentheses are used to convey related stitches. For example, if you came across this- "(sk 3 ch, 4 trc in next chain) across the row", it would first mean you leave three chains unworked, referring to the sk, which stands for skip. In the fourth chain, you would then do four treble crochet stitches. You would then repeat the whole process across the entire row.
When you purchase a crochet book, or patterns, you'll find the abbreviations and symbols will be explained at the beginning. Once you've worked with a few patterns, you'll find yourself much more familiar with the instructions, and you won't need to refer to the book any longer. The crochet symbols will become second nature. Similar, but easier than learning a foreign language, after a bit of study, crochet abbreviations and symbols will make perfect sense!