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 (18)

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.

Nona Soft 23.12.2019 - 12:51:

I have a question in pattern number 205_4 it is a sweater I can't understand how to work A1 in two stitches and repeat A2 over 32 how can I work I can't understand how to follow the diagram is A2 has increase??? Or not I hope you help me

DROPS Design 02.01.2020 - 16:41:

Dear Mrs Soft, 205-4 is a knitting pattern; did you mean this one or any other one? You are welcome to ask your question in the comment sections of the pattern you are working on, it can be that way easier to help you. Happy crocheting!

Colleen 03.12.2019 - 04:02:

On my diagram for 195-14 on A1 two vertical dashes and I don’t know what stitch they are? Please help

DROPS Design 03.12.2019 - 13:05:

Dear Colleen, if you think of the 2 dashes at the beg of row with sc (US-crochet) in A.2 there you have to work 2 chains, then 1 sc (US-crochet) in next stitch. Happy crocheting!

Elaine 26.11.2019 - 18:31:

I would like to know if you can print the pattern for the Drops Design Lily Pad round crochet rug (152-25). I cannot follow diagrams and would love to crochet this beautiful rug......Thank you in advance for your help.....Elaine

DROPS Design 27.11.2019 - 08:59:

Dear Elaine, we only have diagram to this pattern, you will find above how to read them - see here. Happy crocheting!

Isidora Saldana 04.11.2019 - 15:51:

How can I get your videos to play. They\'re not working

DROPS Design 05.11.2019 - 10:53:

Dear Mrs Saldana, Please make sure you have installed the newest version of Adobe Flash Player. If the problem persists, please take a look at Vimeo's FAQ. You can also find our videos on our You Tube Channel. Happy crocheting!

NATASHA COLE 24.10.2019 - 18:25:

There are a lot of Drops patterns I have ready in my stash to crochet but each time I get started I abandon them because I really do not understand how to read your patterns with the diagrams. Can you please do a video tutorial to explain how to follow crochet patterns that have the additional diagrams. For example the Escapade cardigan has multiple diagrams.

DROPS Design 25.10.2019 - 10:14:

Dear Mrs Cole, when there are several diagrams to follow on a same row you can cut them and put them together in a montage so that you can follow them as explained under Several different diagrams worked consecutively on the row/round:. Your DROPS store will also be able to assist you reading diagrams, even per mail or telephone. Happy crocheting!

Aimee 19.10.2019 - 12:45:

Som total nybegynder i hækling søgte jeg info på 'Hvordan læses diagrammer'. Er det muligt at få symbolforklaringen på dansk, da jeg ikke har styr på de engelske navne for hæklemasker.

DROPS Design 21.10.2019 - 09:18:

Hei Aimee. Ja, du kan finne alt på dansk. Velg den engelske side til "How to read crochet diagrams" (må være på den engelske side ettersom du skal oversette fra engelsk til dansk) og velg "Dictionary" til høyre (eller helt nederst på siden). Skriv inn ordet du vil oversette, f.eks "chain stitch". Det vil da komme opp en forklaring på hva en chain stitch er, på engelsk, men scroll litt ned og du ser oversettelser på mange språk. Klikk på Dansk og "luftmaske" , du vil da få en forklaring på hva en luftmaske er på dansk. God Fornøyelse!

Judy Lane 05.09.2019 - 17:31:

Hi I think I have figured out the pattern for the tangy squares but am having difficulty with round 2!!!! I am not sure about the symbol for the treble crochet around ch st/ch sp/ch st ring - it is obvious in round one because you work in to the ring.

DROPS Design 06.09.2019 - 08:37:

Dear Mrs Lane, could you please ask your question under the pattern you are working on? It would be easier to help you when looking at the diagram you are working on. Thanks for your comprehension!

Heather 15.08.2019 - 09:44:

Could you please start giving written patterns also, I have a very hard time with the diagrams. I love all your crochet patterns and would love to make them but with my eyesight I have such a rough time.

DROPS Design 15.08.2019 - 10:56:

Dear Heather, 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. Give them a try!

Patricia Williams 18.06.2019 - 00:04:

The diagram, I have never followed a diagram. Is there a tutorial I can watch and do for the Sand Voyage Summer hat, please? I'm having a rough time trying to understand the diagram. Once I finished the sc rounds, what/where do i begin the vertical stitches?

DROPS Design 18.06.2019 - 08:53:

Dear Mrs Williams, in this pattern you will start reading the diagram A.1 at the bottom corner on the right side (the row after the star), then crochet every row from the right towards the left following the symbol explained in diagram key. Happy crocheting!

Marianne 16.05.2019 - 12:47:

Har virkelig ledt efter sådan en tutorial i lang tid. Tak for hjælpen! :)

Sandra McCarthy 16.04.2019 - 20:15:

Pattern # w-767. I have read the complete pattern. I understand the instructions for the bag. I don't understand the Work A.2 over each repeat of A.1. I did reread the crochet info and am still confused. Also in the diagram what is the arrow saying? Start on the second row (of the diagram) working up and the bottom row (below the arrow) is worked as the third row after the top row.

DROPS Design 23.04.2019 - 16:25:

Dear Mrs McCarthy, did you manage to work A.2 with the answer on your question you asked on the pattern? Remember also you can get individual assistance contacting your DROPS store, even per mail or telephone. Happy crocheting!

Inga 20.03.2019 - 19:18:

Gibt es diese Übersicht auch für Strickanleitungen?

DROPS Design 21.03.2019 - 10:08:

Liebe Inga, hier finden Sie, wie man Strickdiagram liest. Viel Spaß beim stricken!

Katarina Hahn Persson 18.03.2019 - 21:07:

Hej jag vet inte hur jag skall läsa diagrammet till mönster nr. Drops 187-2. Tacksam för hjälp. // Katarina

DROPS Design 06.05.2019 - 08:59:

Hej Katarina, första varvet i diagrammet består av stolpar och det har du redan virkat enligt mönstret. Varv 2 i diagrammet består av växelvis 1 lm och 1 stolpe i varannan stolpe varvet ut. Varv 3 består av 2 stolpar i varje lm från varvet innan. Fråga också gärna i butiken där du har köpt garnet. Lycka till :)

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