Unless you know how to read them, working with crochet charts can be very daunting. Bu don’t worry, these charts are actually a lot easier to understand than they look at first.
In this article we’ll show you how to read any crochet chart – from filet crochet to lacy doilies, mandalas, and beyond. Get that crochet hook and yarn ready!
How to read filet crochet charts
As an example of filet crochet, we’ll use this pretty rose pattern by Maria Merlino. These patterns show the two main ways in which filet crochet patterns are given.
Filet crochet is a specific type of crochet that uses only chain, single crochet (sometimes), and double crochet stitches throughout. Worked as a pattern of “blocks”, the stitches form a kind of silhouette of the scene, pattern or item that is portrayed.
The “blocks” or “squares” that the pattern is made up of is created as follows:
- an open block – one double crochet (UK = treble), followed by two chain stitches, followed by another double crochet stitch. Usually the “open” blocks are used to create a mesh background for the pattern that is made up of only double treble stitches.
- a filled block – four double crochet (UK = treble) stitches. These “filled” blocks will in the end form the actual pattern portrayed.
- in some cases a block is also formed as follows: one double crochet (UK = treble), two chains, one single crochet (UK = double crochet), two chains, one double crochet.
A foundation row of chain stitches are made first, with the first row beginning with turning chains stitches. In the chart showing the stitches you can clearly see this foundation chain and turning chains.
Work the first row by reading the pattern from right to left. At the end of the row, turn your work and then read the pattern from left to right. Keep working back and forth like this. You’ll also see that you start at the bottom of the chart and work upwards.
The second filet crochet chart – showing just black and white blocks – are the way in which these charts are usually given. A key to the chart will be given as well to show which stitches are worked in the white blocks (these are the open blocks containing only two chain stitches) and which in the black blocks (the ones containing two double crochet stitches).
When you take a look at the block graph, you’ll see that not every row in marked with it’s row number. Rather, every 10 blocks/rows are marked. This is only to save space and make it easier to read the chart. Some of the patterns may mark every 5 rows or 5 blocks.
Tip: If you’re working a very large filet crochet project, put a stitch marker every 10 or 20 blocks. This makes it a lot easier to keep track of where you are especially if you have large parts that are open blocks or filled blocks.
All you need to do now is keep working back and forth until you’ve finished working the whole graph!
How to read crochet charts for patterns worked “back and forth”
Crochet patterns that are worked back and forth rather than in the round, are worked much like the filet crochet; with the work being turned after each row.
We’ll use the following pattern from **** as example:
For this pattern you’ll also be making a foundation chain stitch row with turning chain stitches to start the first row. Now, if you look at the symbols of the chart and the key to the symbols below the chart, you’ll see that, for each symbol, you need to make the corresponding stitch. The first row will, therefore, only consist of a row of double crochet stitches.
The second row will consist of only single crochet stitches, and the “hearts” will be created with bobble stitches from the third row onward.
The third row will start with a 3-stitch turning chain (which counts as one double crochet), followed by two more double crochet stitches into the same stitch to form a bobble/popcorn stitch. This bobble stitch is followed by two chain stitches, etc. for the rest of the row.
You’ll see that this chart, as with that of the filet crochet chart, starts at the bottom. In the same way as filet crochet, you will therefore start at the bottom of the chart and work your way to the top.
Now that you know how to read a chart where you work the rows back and forth, you’ll find the pattern where you work in the round easy to follow!
How to read crochet charts “in the round”
For this example, we’ll be using a vintage pineapple doily pattern from Crochet Art Blog.
Now, we know what you’re thinking: “That’s supposed to be a doily? Look at the shape!” The first thing you need to know about these patterns that are worked in the round – especially large designs like tablecloths – only show one or two of the repeats that make up each row of the pattern.
Your finished object will look like this:
When you’re reading a crochet pattern that is worked in the round, you always start from the center and work your way outwards.
It’s always good to print out the pattern or make a copy from magazine you found the pattern in as you can then highlight the rows that you are finished with. This makes it a lot easier to keep track of where you are in the pattern and will keep you from working the wrong row’s stitches!
The rows are numbered at the beginning of each row, with row 1 in the center. Now you’ll also see that there are other numbers that seem to be almost in the middle of nowhere. These are actually to tell you how many stitches of one kind is needed in that part of the pattern.
For example, right in the center the number tells you how many double crochet (UK = treble) stitches you need to crochet. The same goes for “extra” numbers that are below groups of chain or other stitches. If there isn’t a number to tell you, for instance, how many chain stitches to crochet, simply count each symbol in that part of the pattern. This will give you the total number of stitches.
Remember that you don’t turn your work when working in the round. It’s therefore also not necessary for you to change the direction in which you read the pattern. Rather, always read the pattern anti-clockwise.
Tip: Most of the rows end with a slip stitch. This is shown as a full-stop-type symbol. The next row is then started by making a beginning turning chain.
Just as for the other crochet charts that we discussed above, each of the symbols of this in-the-round pattern corresponds to one crocheted stitch.
When you reach the rows that are not shown in full, you simply need to keep repeating the stitches that are shown until you reach the end of the row. Link the first and last stitch with a slip stitch, and you’re ready for the next round – it really is this simple!
Now that you’ve learned how to read crochet charts, it’s just a matter of deciding which of your new skills you want to try first!