Tutorial | How to Read a Crochet Chart

With the Enchanted Wood Crochet Along starting later today (yippee!) I thought I’d just take a moment to talk a little bit about reading crochet charts for anyone that might not be so familiar with the technique.

Crochet charts shouldn’t be seen as scary! It’s a skill that is easy to learn once you’ve got the starting know-how and get a bit of practice. Being able to read a crochet chart (or diagram) can really expand your options for working with different types of crochet patterns – it can also be a helpful visual tool for using along side a written pattern.

Reading Crochet Charts Tips and Tricks Blog Post Banner Image

With my more recent patterns, where relevant, I try to add a chart as extra information – this is definitely the case with the Enchanted Wood blanket. So I thought a blog post before we start could prove useful.

What is a crochet chart?

A crochet chart is usually a visual representation of a crochet pattern using crochet symbols. I’m going to specifically be talking about crochet symbol charts in this post. These are a little different from filet, C2C or tapestry charts which might be shown in as blocks to show colour or groups of the same stitch (I have done posts about reading tapestry charts and reading filet charts if you want to check those out).

Crochet charts can be provided for projects in rows or in rounds (for things like motifs – think granny squares), it’s unusual to see charts for things like amigurumi (though it is more common in Japanese crochet).

Crochet Symbols

For pretty much every crochet stitch that exists there is a matching crochet symbol. Each crochet stitch has a standard symbol that most people use (making charts a great way to work a pattern that’s written in a different language). You will find that many people use the US Craft Yarn Council’s chart symbols, but there should always be a pattern key for symbols accompanying a chart that you can refer to.

Crochet Chart Symbols with symbols and terminology of 6 stitches in US and UK crochet terms

Many times the crochet symbol will look like the stitch you are going to create; the chain stitch, for example, is depicted as an oval that is basically the line representation of what a chain stitch looks like when worked in yarn.

Post stitches have a “hook” at the bottom representing that you hook it over the post and they will point in the direction that you would work that stitch.

Crochet Chart Symbols with another set of symbols and terminology of 5 stitches in US and UK crochet terms

Lines in the middle of a stitch symbol represent the yarn overs, so for a treble crochet (US double crochet) looks like a T with a single line across the bar – so there is one ‘yarn over’, a double treble (US treble) looks like a T with two lines across the bar – for two ‘yarn overs’.

Shell stitches or textured bobble, puff and popcorn stitches will be shown as being worked in one stitch by a complete symbol. Sometimes how symbols for stitches like bobbles, puffs and popcorns may look a little different so it’s always important to refer to the chart key to be sure.

Crochet Chart Symbols with another set of symbols and terminology of 4 stitches in US and UK crochet terms

Once you get familiar with the symbols that represent each stitch, it’s fairly easy to read crochet symbols and the subsequent charts. They are designed to read exactly like they look!

Reading a Chart

You will find, when it comes to reading charts, that most are written for right handed crocheters (unless specifically specified), basically that means that the chart should be reversed if you are left-handed. This can be done mentally or through a physical reproduction – try doing a reverse image on your computer with photo editing tools.

To work from a crochet chart in rows, start from the bottom left and work the foundation chain from left to right (if you’re right-handed). Then work Row 1, starting at the bottom right of the diagram and working each stitch towards the left. Then work Row 2 from the left side towards the right, and so on. The row numbers are usually placed at the start of each row, though rows can be depicted by dots or nothing at all if it’s clear where a row starts and ends – my top tip is to look for the starting chains.

The image below shows a section of my Shining Light wedding wrap (free pattern here on the blog):

Diagram with explanations of how to read a crochet chart with rows

Round-based symbol charts are worked from the inside out, starting in the centre and working counter clockwise (for right-handed crocheters). It’s a little harder to fit row numbers on patterns worked in the round so it can be useful to look for starting chains or slip stitches to give you a clue as you know from experience with crochet that that is where you will begin.

The image below shows a classic granny square pattern which is worked in the round:

Diagram with explanations of how to read a crochet chart in the round

Typically stitches are worked through both loops. However, there are exceptions where stitches are worked in the front or back loop only. Again there will be a symbol to represent this change in how you do the stitch.

If a chart is large, that would take up a lot of space in a pattern, then you might find information presented as a partial chart. It should still contain all the information you need, it’s most likely that the stitches are repeated which means it’s been able to be condensed.

Keeping Track

It can be helpful, as you work with charts, to mark of the rows as you go so you don’t lose track of where you are. This can be done with marks on the diagram, using a ruler, or by using a row counter. You also might find it useful to use stitch markers to track your rows and stitches.

And if you get lost in a crochet pattern that has a chart then looking at a diagram can help! Your crochet piece should be the same as the diagram so using a chart can be a great visible way to help you find your place quickly.

I hope you find that helpful before we begin our Enchanted Wood CAL journey where you will get plenty of opportunity to hone your new chart reading skills!

Good luck with your chart reading, feel free to drop any comments or any other helpful tips you’ve found with crochet charts below.

Until next time; keep calm and crochet on my friends xx


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