How to Read a Knitting Pattern
When learning to knit or crochet it’s normal to put all of your attention into learning about the tools you need, the yarn, and the foundational techniques you’ll need for starting your very fist project. While these are arguably the most important parts of the craft to focus on, it is also important to learn the basics of reading a pattern. Below we break down the important sections that make up a pattern and how to read one.
Reading a Pattern
All of Yarnspirations’ patterns are laid out in a specific style (as shown above in the Crochet Granite Stitch Floor Cushion). This allows us to create consistency across all of our patterns so that it makes it easier for you to read them! Below we show you the best order to read a pattern in and what each section covers.
Craft & Skill Level
At the top of all of our patterns you’ll be able to find some basic information for each project like whether it’s a knit or crochet project and what skill level it is best suited for. These are important factors to consider before starting your next project. Below you’ll find the skill levels our patterns come in and the general skills needed for each of them.
Beginner Patterns: Includes the basic stitches and may include some basic increases or decreases.
Easy Patterns: Includes easy stitch patterns, simple color work, and some increases or decreases.
Intermediate Patterns: Includes more complex stitch patterns, using a combination of stitches. Can also include color work and/or shaping.
Experienced Patterns: These patterns include complex stitch pattern, color work, and/or shaping using a variety of techniques.
The materials section acts like a laundry list of what you’ll need to make your project and should be the first part of the pattern you look through. Here you’ll find the yarn required and the quantity. You’ll also find the knitting needles or crochet hook sizes needed to make the finished project and any other additional materials like a pillow form or buttons.
The abbreviations section, sometimes referred to as the key, lists all of the skills you’ll need to make the project. For each skill there is an abbreviation used throughout the pattern. When you first start reading patterns you will refer to the abbreviations key often until you start to memorize them. These abbreviations allow us to create clear instructions with little room for interpretation so that you can easily make the project. We recommend looking through the abbreviations key and taking inventory of the skills you’ll need to make the project. This will allow you to determine what skills may be new to you and give you the chance to look into those skills before attempting to learn them while in the middle of your project.
Gauge & Measurement
Once you’ve assessed the materials and skills you’ll need to make your pattern you should then look at the gauge and finished measurement of the project. This helps you have a better understanding of what the finished project will look like.
The gauge indicated in a pattern is very important. This lets you know how many stitches and rows you’ll need to make in a given measurement so that your finished project is to the correct measurements specified in the pattern. You will need to create a gauge swatch before starting your project so that you know what kind of tension you’ll need to obtain the proper gauge.
Lastly, you should take a quick look through the pattern and check for any special instructions. In our patterns you can find this in the Instructions section. Using the Crochet Granite Stitch Floor Cushion as an example you can see that there is a note in the instructions section before going into the first step in making the pattern. These types of notes are usually overarching instructions that apply throughout the pattern.
When working through a pattern it can be easy to lose track of where you are in the pattern, especially when you’re working with a pattern that has different sizes for you to choose from. Our knit and crochet designers recommend you highlight the amount of stitches required in each instruction for the specific size you are making the pattern in.
Don’t be afraid to make notes on your pattern! Mark it up, check off where you left off and what rows you’ve completed. Whatever helps you work through the pattern and help you feel confident in making your first project!