How to read crochet diagrams

A crochet diagram consists of symbols, 1 symbol = 1 stitch (or a group of stitches) - the symbol definition explains what kind of stitch it is/how it is worked. The diagram shows all stitches seen from the right side (unless otherwise specified).

A typical crochet diagram looks like this:

1: 1. A.1 is the name of the diagram and refers to the entire diagram - inside the square brackets. Everything inside the square brackets is 1 repeat of the diagram.
2: 2. This is the symbol definition, which explains how each symbol is worked.
Blue arrows: The symbol is worked in or around the stitch directly below itself in the diagram. Sometimes multiple stitches are worked in/around the same stitch.
Purple ovals and arrows: Not all stitches are worked in, for example: sometimes you work a chain stitch and the stitch below is skipped.

A crochet diagram is read opposite to how you would normally read: from right to left, from bottom to top. In other words: you start with the symbol in the bottom right corner, and work your way leftwards and upwards (see RED in diagram below).

If you are supposed to work several repeats of a diagram (ie: if it is to be repeated several times on the row/round), work until the end of the row of the diagram and begin again with the first symbol on the row.

Back and forth:

When you’re working back and forth every other row is worked from the right side and every other row is worked from the wrong side. When working from the wrong side the diagram has to be read the opposite way: from left to right (see red arrow from right side, and blue arrow from wrong side below).

The row typically starts with a given number of chain stitches - the number equals the height of the following stitch, and are included to ensure you are starting from the top of the following stitch (see green circles below). If the chain stitches are included in the diagram (as in this example) all stitches are worked exactly as they appear. Sometimes the pattern includes CROCHET INFORMATION at the top of the instructions, which tells you how many chain stitches to work at the beginning of every row, and whether these chain stitches are replacing the first stitch on row (or in addition). If the chain stitches are NOT included in the diagram: follow instructions under CROCHET INFORMATION.

In the round:

When working in the round, all rounds are worked from the right side: from right to left (see red arrows below). How the round begins and ends are often displayed in a diagram of its own (see A.2 below - green square). Similar to when working back and forth, the round starts with a given number of chain stitches, equal to the height of the following stitch. At the end of the round you typically join the beginning and end of the round with a slip stitch in the last of the chain stitches at the beginning (see blue square below). In other words: the chain stitches in A.2 = the beginning of the round, while the slip stitch in A.2 = the end of the round.

If you are supposed to work several repeats of the diagram (A.1) (ie, it is repeated several times on the round) you work until the last stitch, and then begin again with the first stitch on the same row in A.1. NOTE: in this example it is ONLY A.1 that is repeated, A.2 shows how the beginning and end of the entire round is worked.

Several different diagrams worked consecutively on the row/round:

If you’re working several different diagrams after each other on the same row/round, work as follows: Work 1st row in diagram 1, continue with 1st row in diagram 2, then 1st row in diagram 3 etc. REMEMBER: if you’re working back and forth, the diagrams will have to be worked in the opposite order from the wrong side - ie: start with diagram 3, then diagram 2 and lastly diagram 1. They are also worked the opposite way, as usual.

Circular diagrams:

When working in a circle, ie you start in the middle and work your way outwards, this will often be displayed in a circular diagram. The diagram can either display the entire circle - in this case every symbol is worked exactly as it appears, or the diagram can display a fraction of a circle which is then repeated a given number of times to make a full circle.

Full circle:

In a full circle diagram you begin with the symbol in the middle of the circle: typically a small circle representing a given number of chain stitches, made into a ring with a slip stitch (see red circle below). Similar to when working in the round, the round begins with a given number of chain stitches (equal to the height of the next symbol) and ends with a slip stitch in the last of these chain stitches - ie: equivalent to A.2 in our previous example (see blue square) - NOTE: when the chain stitches are displayed in the diagram these do NOT replace any of the other symbols, and every symbol is worked exactly as they appear. If the chain stitches ARE replacing any stitch, this will have been removed from the diagram.

You work counter-clockwise: from right to left, 1 symbol after the other (see red arrow below). The stitches on the first round are typically worked AROUND the chain stitch ring, meaning you put the crochet hook THROUGH the middle of the chain stitch ring, pick up the strand and pull it back through the ring (working the stitch as usual) - You are not working the stitch IN any of the chain stitches, but rather AROUND the chain stitch ring. At the end of the round, join the beginning and end with a slip stitch, and start with the second round in the diagram: the second closest to the middle (se green arrow).

Fraction of a circle:

If the diagram is only a fraction of a circle, this is because the fraction is repeated a given number of times in the round, to make a full circle. You begin with the symbol at the bottom (see red circle) and work the same way as for FULL CIRCLE, but A.2 will be repeated a given number of times in the round. Similar to when working in the round there is typically a separate diagram illustrating how the round begins and ends (see A.1, blue square below). You begin with the diagram row closest to the chain stitch ring at the bottom, work the chain stitch(es) in A.1, then work the symbol(s) in A.2 (in the first round it is only 1 symbol) and repeat the symbol(s) in A.2 the number of times stated in the pattern.

At the end of the round you join the round with the slip stitch in A.1. When the first round is completed, continue with the next round: second closest to the chain stitch ring (see green arrow below).

Square diagrams / color diagrams:

Some crochet diagrams are displayed in a square diagram, where 1 square = 1 stitch. What type of stitch is worked will typically be explained in the pattern instructions, while the purpose of the diagram is to display what colors the stitches are worked in (see red circle below = symbol definition).

You work as explained above, depending on whether you work BACK AND FORTH, IN THE ROUND or a CIRCULAR DIAGRAM.

Comments (33)

Nikki 16.08.2020 - 10:13:

Hi I have a crochet pattern here which I believe is one of your older ones as couldn’t find it on your site, but I need help following the diagram. I have horizontal lines in different lengths with no meaning, apart from the small one meaning a chain stitch. I say its your pattern as Drops Alpaca and Drops cotton viscose is used from the garn studios. I need help with this please. I can’t see a way of using photos to show you.. Thank you Nikki

DROPS Design 17.08.2020 - 10:25:

Dear Nikki, could you please ask your question in the "question" section of this pattern? It would be much easier for us to help you when we also can see the diagram and the diagram key. Thanks for your comprehension. Happy crocheting!

Angela Jane Charles 02.08.2020 - 16:32:

You have a diagram of crochet stitches at the top, but in the pattern I am doing, I have 1) a stitch that appears in the diagram for the Fraction of a circle above: an upright line with a solid circle near the top. 2) two stitches that appear in the Full circle diagram: a solid oval and an outline oval with two solid dots in it. I can't find any step-by-step instruction on how to make these stitches, and the description in my pattern is not clear enough. Could you help me please?

DROPS Design 03.08.2020 - 09:03:

Dear Mrs Charles, could you please post your question under the pattern you are working on? It would be much easier for us to explain you. Thanks for your comprehension. Happy knitting!

Mary 28.07.2020 - 01:42:

Thank you for the comprehensive explanations of different types of diagrams.

Samantha 26.06.2020 - 07:41:

I brought this pattern because it states it has a tutorial video. Cant find it. Not very happy

DROPS Design 26.06.2020 - 07:58:

Dear Samantha, all our patterns are free - you are not supposed to buy them. There are videos for every patterns showing the different techniques used - but not all patterns do have their single videos - this page explains how to read a diagram. Feel free to ask your question in the pattern page or contact directly the store where you bought the yarn for any individual assistance. Happy crocheting!

Kloe 21.06.2020 - 23:50:

Hi! Is it me or the pattern is weirdly written? At the end of a row, I'm used to do a slip stitch followed by a single crochet stitch, turn my work and start the next row. Now, you just turn and turn in the anticlockwise all the time? Is it because of the pattern at the beginning? Thanks in advance!

DROPS Design 22.06.2020 - 09:19:

Dear Kloe, this is the method how to work diagrams - there might be some difference from a pattern to another, these would then be explained in the pattern - feel free to ask your question on the pattern you are working on to be sure. Happy crocheting!

Claire Menyuk 12.06.2020 - 20:55:

This is the first Drops pattern I am trying, and I feel completely confused by your diagrams. I am making 177-24. You say to work A.1b, then A.3 over the next 45 treble crochets, but they both not only go across, but up as well. Does this mean, I repeat the pattern for 6 rows up? You offer no videos of how to work these patterns. I'm so frustrated, I'm ready to give up before even starting.

DROPS Design 15.06.2020 - 10:44:

Dear Mrs Menyuk, A.1b shows how to start the rows, then you repeat 5 times the 9 sts in diagram A.3 in width (9 sts x 5 = over the next 45 sts). Happy crocheting!

Connie 06.06.2020 - 21:45:

It would be nice if your video's had sound, explaining as she/he went along

DROPS Design 08.06.2020 - 09:45:

Dear Connie, Our videos do not have sound because we are a worldwide company and our videos are watched by people around the world, speaking different languages, many of whom do not understand English. We have therefore written instructions to accompany our videos, Happy crocheting!

Cynthia 03.06.2020 - 07:25:

I bought DROPS pattern 190-21 (CA Dream top), and I’m really struggling with the diagrams. Do you offer them written out in English anywhere, or have some helpful resources I can use? I watched the linked video, and still have a lot of questions.

DROPS Design 03.06.2020 - 07:42:

Dear Cynthia, there is only diagrams to this pattern, with the help of this lesson you should be able to understand how to follow the diagrams, please feel free to ask your question in the pattern or request individual assistance from the store where you bought the yarn and remember our patterns are free, you were not supposed to buy it. Happy crocheting!

Guadalupe 26.05.2020 - 00:09:

Por favor, me encantaría hacer este poncho serena, pero me cuesta entender el paso a paso. Tendrán otra forma de poder estudiarlo?? Muchas gracias. Espero su respuesta

Maria De Rose 25.05.2020 - 17:46:

I am working a crochet pattern from a UK magazine. The written instruction tells me to continue the pattern using the chart for rows 3-61, however the chart rows shown begin at row 56. (The first 2 rows are completed using treble crochets). I consider myself an experienced crocheter but these instructions have somewhat stumped me. I also checked other pages and the back of the magazine but there are no other instructions.

DROPS Design 26.05.2020 - 09:19:

Dear Mrs De Rose, exept if this pattern is a DROPS pattern published on our website, I'm afraid we will not be able to help you there since we might not know the pattern. You are welcome to contact your yarn store for any individual asssitance, they will be able to assist you with the pattern. Happy crocheting!

Patrizia 13.05.2020 - 09:32:

Buongiorno posso chiedere perche il lavoro mi si sposta e sembra inclinato verso destra cioe le righe non sono perfettamente dritte in verticale ?graie per l'aiuto

DROPS Design 04.06.2020 - 10:32:

Buongiorno Patrizia, all'inizio del giro lavora le catenelle indicate per girare? Buon lavoro!

Leyla 08.05.2020 - 08:02:

Jag ska nu virka filten \\\"Sleepy times\\\" Drops baby 29-15 och tittar på diagrammet den är i A1, A2, A3 och A4 men mellan varje sektion så finns det en tjock linje som skiljevägg. Är det för att man ska veta när A1 slutar och A2 börjar? I vilket fall: är det så att i denna beskrivning så är rad 1-3 endast stolpar varvet ut i 3 varv? Det som förvirrar mig är att stolparna i A1 och A4 sitter täta däremot stolparna i A3 sitter isär. Betyder detta något?

DROPS Design 08.05.2020 - 13:43:

Hej Leyla, ja det er for at vise hvor du starter med de forskellige diagrammer. Det kan være en god ide at sætte en markør i hver overgang, til du er inde i mønsteret. God fornøjelse!

Ursula Clifton 30.04.2020 - 14:09:

I find the instructions quite difficult but have worked it out eventually. There are inconsistencies however. In your instructions on how to read crochet diagrammes you write that 'x' is a double crochet around stitch and 'T' a double crochet in stitch. But in your pattern DROPS 177-24 it reads that 'x' is a double crochet in stitch and 'T' a double crochet around the chain. Also, having chosen UK English (and German) it's not a double crochet but a single crochet.

DROPS Design 04.05.2020 - 15:46:

Dear Mrs Clifton, most important is the diagram key to the pattern you are working on - and remember a UK-Double crochet is a US-single crochet due to the crochet terminology. Happy crocheting!

Eliana Valenzuela 27.04.2020 - 10:22:

Muchas gracias, por mostrar sus tejidos son muy hermosos y muy explicativos, soy principiante cen tejido a crochet y me encanta. En esta cuarentena por el covil 19, estoy tejiendo y sobre todo a mi nieta de 4 años, un abrazó a la distancia.

Mary Kselman 17.04.2020 - 00:50:

Is there a step-by-step step pattern for drops pattern 171-21? Or a video? I love this jacket, but al finding it difficult to follow the diagram. Please help.

Marcy 24.03.2020 - 23:25:

Sad fact that due to visual learning disabilities suffered by millions of us, ALL your patterns are completely UNACCESSIBLE. Thank you for this "tutorial" but it is like GIBBERISH when people such as myself, cannot possibly make sense of the charts. I've tried reading your tutorial, watched videos, even paid to attend a class in a local yarn shop. I'm no closer to being able to use them. I paid someone to "translate" a pattern. There are other sources for patterns and yarn I'll use.

Mrs Blair 14.03.2020 - 21:37:

Do I build the diagram up or around?

DROPS Design 16.03.2020 - 10:40:

Dear Mrs Blair, diagrams are usually worked bottom up, and repeated in the round - to get a more detailed answer please ask your question on the pattern you are working on. Thanks for your comprehension!

Pamela Goulden 29.02.2020 - 02:57:

Please have the lady crocheted on HGTV crochet the Flair for Spring # 632 demonstrate how to crochet this sweater. Thank you.

Pamela Goulden 26.02.2020 - 10:43:

Please give me row by row crochet instructions for pattern #w- 632. I’ve watched the video but still get confused with the symbols. I know how to crochet but not good at following diagrams. Help!

DROPS Design 27.02.2020 - 10:10:

Dear Mrs Goulden, we are unfortunately not able to re-write all diagrams used in that pattern, this lesson should be able to help you to understand how to crochet a diagram - please contact your DROPS store - even per mail or telephone - or any crochet forum for any individual assistance. Thanks for your comprehension. Happy crocheting!

Linda Harding 08.01.2020 - 18:39:

Please could you print your patterns with UK written instructions - I have tried to understand the diagrams but just can’t understand them despite repeated attempts. Do you have a video that shows step by step how to follow a diagram?

DROPS Design 09.01.2020 - 10:30:

Dear Mrs Harding, The DROPS patterns are knitted and crocheted by thousands and thousands of people  around the world. We understand however that in certain countries, with different knitting/crochet traditions than Scandinavia, our patterns might be written in a way that differs from what some are used to. But of course we want everyone to understand our patterns, so that’s why we have created an extensive library of tutorial videos as well as step by step lessons that explain how to follow the techniques we use and how to read the diagrams in our patterns. If you have a doubt about how to read a specific pattern make sure to leave a comment in that pattern so that we can help you.

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