How to read a crochet chart

If you are a visual learner easily confused by long blocks of written instruction, you'll love using crochet charts. A visual representation of a stitch pattern where each stitch has a corresponding symbol, charts are especially helpful when working lace patterns where many stitches are skipped and you need to see how rows fit together. Here are all our tips for reading and understanding crochet charts.

How to do it

Chart Example

1 Understand Your Legend or Key

Begin by finding your legend. This might also be referred to as a “Key” or “Stitch Key.” This will identify any stitch symbols, specific colors, or additional notations specific to the chart.

2 Find your Starting Place

A chart worked in rows will start at the bottom with the first row noted as “Row 1,” “Setup Row,” or “Foundation Row.” A stitch pattern worked in the round will begin at the center. Look for a circle of chains or the symbol for a magic circle as an indication for where to begin.

3 Identify Rows or Rounds

To see which stitch belongs with which row, Right Side (RS) rows are often in black while Wrong Side (WS) rows are often in blue. Projects worked in the round are typically all Right Side rounds, but you might see a chart alternate back and forth between black and blue rows to offer more stitch clarity.

4 Look for Repeats

Rather than charting the entire pattern, charts will indicate which stitches need to be repeated with a red outline or yellow highlighting. Rows that are repeated are often noted with a bracket along the edge of the chart.

5 Understand what Colors Mean

You already know that black is a RS row, blue is a WS row, and yellow or red are used to indicate a repeat. There might be additional colors on your chart that indicate rows overlapping one another (like with a charted mandala pattern) or stitches that are only needed for certain sizes (in some garments). Any additional color should have its meaning indicated in the legend.

6 Know Your Symbols

Stitch symbols can vary slightly from chart to chart, so it is always worth checking your legend. We’ve included a long list of common symbols you might encounter on the opposite page.

Common Stitch Symbols

slip stitch
slip stitch
(sl st)
chain
chain
(ch)
single crochet
single crochet
(SC)*
half double crochet
half double crochet
(HDC)
double crochet
double crochet
(DC)
treble crochet
treble crochet
(tr)
double treble crochet
double treble crochet
(Dtr)
front post double crochet
front post double crochet
(FPDC)
back post double crochet
back post double crochet
(BPDC)
Front post treble crochet
front post treble crochet
(FPtr)
back post treble crochet
back post treble crochet
(BPtr)
single crochet 2 together
single crochet 2 together
(SC2tog)
single crochet 3 together
single crochet 3 together
(SC3tog)
double crochet 2 together
double crochet 2 together
(DC2tog)
double crochet 3 together
double crochet 3 together
(DC3tog)
bobble
bobble
(bo)
puff stitch
puff stitch
(PS)
popcorn
popcorn
(PC)
shell
shell
(sh)
chain 3 picot
chain 3 picot
(ch-3 picot)
back loop only
back loop only
(Blp)**
front loop only
front loop only
(Flp)**

* both symbols are commonly used for single crochet

** symbol appears at base of stitch being worked

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