3 Rules for Starting a Crochet Pattern

When I am not working on my own design for classes, etc. I like to have a couple of seasonally appropriate moderately challenging projects by other designers to work on. One of my summer projects is the Water Lily Shawl by Lisa Naskrent in the Spring 2016 issue of Interweave Crochet.


This is a well written pattern, which is a good thing, as I would be lost if it wasn’t! I would also be having a hard time if I did not apply best practices in pattern reading. More than just comprehending the pattern, having a methodical approach to using the information provided when starting a new project from a pattern, makes for much less frustration and a happier experience all around. 
My first rule for begining a professionally published pattern, is to remember that there is no extraneous information. There is nothing written there that should be disregarded or ignored. Do something differently if you have a good reason, it’s your project, but know the rule before you break them and know why you are breaking them. If it’s well written and edited all of the info you need is there. You just have to read it and apply it. It’s quite a feat to deliver this kind of complex instruction in writing to perfect strangers. It’s an equally impressive feat for those strangers to sit down and interpret them successfully.
That brings me to my second rule, sit down and patiently read the whole pattern through before you do anything else. You don’t have to be able to visualize each step necessarily, but look for things you don’t understand and make some notes. If there are stitches or instructions you don’t recognize, get those figured out first. If there is something you really don’t like to do and you can’t see how to work around it, maybe it’s not the pattern you are looking for. Better to find out now, than half way through and after buying a bunch of yarn, that you have no idea how to 6tr cluster or remember how you really don’t care for holding two strands of yarn together while stitching. It’s also helpful to have a sense of what direction you are working the piece in, and if you will be working in sections that you join later. It’s generally easier to prevent a directional mistake than fix it.
The third rule is check for errata and other resources before you get started. If you are having trouble with a pattern that just isn’t working, it might not be you. Despite everyone’s best efforts, mistakes get published. Publisher’s websites generally have areas with errata. Look up the Ravelry page for the project; sometimes the designer will post corrections. Look also at other people’s notes on the project, they may note otherwise unpublished errata, as well as clarifications and photos of tricky parts. If the designer has a website or YouTube page, there may be links to videos for special stitches and techniques that will save you some time and trouble.

If you would like more information about understanding crochet patterns, I have a workshop in July, Better Crochet Pattern Reading. This two part workshop is designed to help crocheters with their approach to and working of crochet patterns. We’ll talk more about what you need to keep in mind when beginning a crochet project, what the pattern is really trying to tell you, as well as what to consider when selecting your materials. A frank discussion about gauge will illustrate the importance of understanding this important part of a pattern and why you do not need to fear or disregard it. Tips for reading patterns, organizing and finishing, and caring for your project will also be offered.

The second class includes time for consultation with students on their next crochet project, including help selecting hooks and yarn. Projects in need of revival are welcome.
Better Crochet Pattern Reading Date: Saturdays, 7/16, 7/23; 2016 Time: 10:30am–1:00pm Location: WEBs Yarn, Northampton, MA. Click here for additional details and to sign up.

If you have any questions about this or other classes, please feel free to be in touch.

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3 Rules for Starting a Crochet Pattern