Remember in the last lesson where I said that the simpler the pattern the better? Well how's this for simple? (hover your mouse over to see the difference between the square and the chart overlay)
Do you see how you could possibly not even need words to make a pattern if you knew what the symbols were? That's something that makes crochet awesome! Crochet has a system of symbols that is internationally known and accepted called the international crochet symbol system. In fact, many Japanese patterns (which are usually the cutest patterns in my opinion) only have charts so anyone can read them because this system was developed in Japan sometime around the 60s and people there have been using it longer.
Note: we have talked about US vs UK terms so far. Know that these symbols will still follow UK terms in UK patterns, but most other countries use the US terms, even Japanese patterns follow the US and not the UK terms at least that is what I have found. There could be some Japanese patterns written in charts that follow the UK terms. Again, usually Ravelry will help you out here if you have a question about which terms a pattern is following.
So what are these symbols? I'm going to show you the symbols for everything we have learned so far. There are many other symbols out there and I'll give you some resources at the end of the lesson to help you find other symbols if you run across one in a pattern that you don't understand.
I've found that some patterns will give written out directions along with a chart, which makes it a bit easier if you aren't sure what a symbol means. There are some varying symbols out there too which just makes everything more interesting. The librarian in me gets really annoyed with this... standardization is a must!!! haha
This first chart is of the general stitches that we have learned. It also shows how the stitch symbols were created.
The arrows on this image point to the parts of the stitch that make up the symbol. Then I drew the symbol on top of the stitch and then the actual symbol is on the right. Each one of these symbols would signify one stitch in a pattern. Isn't it cool how crochet language can evolve from Single Crochet to sc to X? I think it's pretty awesome! Do you see how these symbols make it easy to remember how many times you wrap the yarn around a hook before making a stitch? Even if you couldn't remember that a T with 3 diagonal lines meant a double treble stitch, you would still know to wrap your yarn around the hook 3 times and then make the stitch like you normally would.
I for one love to read charts because I'm a visual person and the more information I can get packed into a visual is better. See how the granny square pattern above looks just like the finished granny square? That is why charts are so great.
Here are the symbols for the other stitches and variations we have learned throughout crochet school:
See how most of these are the same as the stitches above but with little hooks or lines added to make the symbol tell a different technique? Like the symbols for the ordinary stitches look somewhat like the crocheted fabric, these other symbols do the same. See how the back loop and front loop stitches sit on either a u or a hump? Those signify the shape of the front loop (u because the front loops curves away from you) or the back loop ( a hump because the back loop curves toward you). The front post and back post stitches also signify going around the post with the hooks at the bottom. I usually have to double check on these when I see them because I forget which way they face for each stitch. The increases and decreases are the same way; Increase symbols show two stitches coming out of one stitch and decreases show two stitches turning into one stitch. And surprise, once you learn other stitches, their symbols will look a lot like their crocheted counterparts as well.
Now that you know the symbols, you probably should know how to read them. There are more "rules" for chart reading than you probably thought there would be but once you know these you'll be ready to go!
- Charts worked in rows start at the bottom and are worked from the bottom up in the directions that you would be crocheting. Left to right then right to left if you are right handed and Right to left then left to right if you are left handed. (see fig. 2 below). Sorry lefties, charts are written for the right handed folks, if you find this confusing you can digitally flip the charts or make a copy onto a transparency and flip it over to make it easier. You may find some designers that make charts for both left and right handed crocheters, but I usually only see them written in the one way to save time.
- Charts worked in rounds start in the center and are worked in to out (fig 3 and 4) counter clockwise for right handed crocheters, clockwise for left handed crocheters (again the charts will be written for right handed crocheters).
- The beginning place is often marked with a small arrow. (fig. 1 and 2). If the beginning is not marked, look for the 1st row and go backwards or just look at the common starting places (bottom left for rows, middle for rounds).
- Figure 1 shows common directional symbols that you could find in charts. Not all designers use these. I'm always thankful when they do!
- Rows and rounds are usually numbered so you can keep track (fig. 2-4). Some designers don't mark all of the rows. They may mark only odd rows, even rows, or every 5 rows. Some will also add the amount of stitches you should have at the end of a row after increases or decreases.
- Charts do not distinguish if you should crochet into the stitch or into a loop made by the stitch. You will have to have some knowledge of crochet to know this, like with the granny squares below (fig 2 and 3) it looks as if the stitches are supposed to be worked into the chains that make up the 2 chain corners, when in fact they should be stitched into the corner space made by the two chains.
- Sometimes color-work will be shown in the pattern (fig. 3) but not always. You can always add color to patterns that are written for one color anyway. I enjoy when the charts are in color because it gives you an idea of what the finished piece will look like.
My Picot Crochet Symbols and Terms - Probably the most exhaustive listing of symbols that I've found. They also have many patterns and charts to download as well.
We only have two more lessons left!!! I can't believe how far you all have come in a little over a month! Next time we'll be going over seaming. I haven't had a chance to film that lesson yet, but I hope to this week. Dash was neutered yesterday so I'm having to spend even more time watching him and trying to keep him from getting too rambunctious and hurting himself. Trying to tell a Jack Russell Terrier puppy not to jump, run, or play rough is almost impossible so forgive me if I don't have time to film until this weekend.
What I would like you to do is think up any questions you have -- something you've come across or something you're are worried about being a problem in the future -- and leave them in the comments section on this post and the next one and then I will compile answers for the final post on common mistakes and FAQs. Also,, if you haven't finished your granny squares or wrist warmers, get them ready to seam together in the next lesson!