If pattern makers wrote every crochet pattern out in regular English, they’d turn into small books. Instead, they use a set of standardized abbreviations to convey the same information in much less space.
Basic stitches like the chain, single crochet and double crochet are the heart of any crochet project. You’ll see at least a few of these abbreviations in every single pattern you do.
- ch: Chain stitch. Used to create the foundation chain at the beginning of a crochet project, to create turning chains at the end of each row, and as part of lacework.
- sl st: Slip stitch. Used to join yarn to an existing project, for seaming pieces of work together or for carrying yarn unobtrusively across a row.
- sc: Single crochet. The shortest of the standard crochet stitches, it creates a dense, solid fabric.
- hdc: Half double crochet. Twice as tall as a single crochet stitch. Works up faster, but still creates a dense, solid fabric.
- dc: Double crochet. Three times as tall as a single crochet stitch, so it works up much faster.
- tr: Treble crochet. Four times as tall as a single crochet. Works up quite fast, but can leave some gapping on either side of the vertical “post” that makes the stitch so tall.
You’ll probably see quite a few of these general terms in any project as well.
- inc, dec: Increase and decrease, respectively. Adding or subtracting from the number of stitches in a row.
- yo: Yarn over. Wrapping the yarn around the crochet hook to create a new loop.
- lp(s): Loops. May refer to a loop of yarn on the hook, or to a loop created by a specialty stitch.
- RS, WS: Right side and wrong side, respectively, or the front and back of the crocheted fabric.
- sp(s): Space(s) or the gaps left in a previous row of work, usually because of extra chain stitches.
- tch or t-ch: The turning chain, a series of chain stitches done at the end of each row to keep the following row level and the edge even.
These specialized stitches won’t show up in every project. When they do, pay close attention because it’s these small details that bring the pattern maker’s vision to life.
- FPdc: Front post double crochet. Crocheting around the vertical part or “post” of a stitch from the previous row, leaving the post on the front of the work.
- BPdc: Back post double crochet. Same as above, leaving the post on the back of the work.
- sc2tog: Single crochet two together. A very common way of decreasing by one stitch.
- FL, BL: The front loop and back loop, respectively, of the chain atop a previous stitch.
You may also see asterisks, parentheses or brackets used to set aside a series of instructions that should be repeated. The pattern will include specific directions on how many times to repeat that series.
Most UK crochet patterns use the same abbreviations as American patterns. However, the same stitches are given different names in U.S. and U.K. patterns. What a U.S. pattern would describe as a single crochet becomes a double crochet in U.K. parlance, the U.S. double crochet becomes a treble crochet in the U.K., and so it logically follows that the U.S. half double crochet becomes a half treble in the U.K., abbreviated "htr."
Getting Used to Abbreviations
As you come across abbreviations in a crochet pattern, just read what they stand for out loud. So if your pattern says to “ch 20,” you’d read “chain 20 stitches.” If the pattern later directs you to “dc in 4th ch from hook” it means to work a double crochet in the 4th chain from the hook, and so on. Once you get used to the abbreviations, reading them becomes second nature, and you won’t have to repeat their meanings out loud.
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