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Friday, March 27, 2015

Reading Patterns - Tips for Beginners - Part 1

Helpful Tips on How to Read Crochet Patterns
by Mary Jane Hall

Today I received an email from someone on Ravelry who is making one of my patterns in the new Crochet Noro Book, and she had a question about something that she was having trouble figuring out. She did tell me she had been crocheting for only 6 months, so I can understand why it didn't make sense to her.  She sent me a picture of her work and we ended up talking on the phone, which helped me figure out the problem. There was not an error, it was just something she hadn't dealt with before which was super easy for her! There were some things I said to her in an email that I thought would help her as a beginner, which prompted me to write this blog. Read below some of the things I said to her as a beginner and it may help you too, whether you're a beginner or experienced in crocheting.
 I know for sure how frustrating it can be not to understand what a pattern is saying. I taught myself to crochet many yrs ago and would get SO frustrated if I didn’t understand what something meant! I’m glad that happened to me though, because it’s what helped me learn the terms and crochet language. I also had a group of older women who would help me understand. I could not have done it alone and would not be designing today if I hadn’t had their help way back then! I give them so much credit for my successes today. I’m the kind of person who would rather someone show me how to do it, rather than tell me or read it to me. Some tips I’ve learned since becoming a designer that I want to share are:

Sometimes there is a misprint or a pattern is wrong, so don’t fret! 
I always thought it was just me, but sometimes there are misprints or the person typing it up for the book copied it wrong. All publishers have tech editors now, and I’ve actually had tech editors change some of my wording & sometimes they have made mistakes. Not trying to scare you. Just please don’t give up! This can throw you way off, even if one little word or number is wrong. And sometimes designers aren’t good at trying to explain what they mean by something. It’s been one of my goals in life to explain my patterns as if I were a beginner! I have had many comments from people saying my patterns are so easy to understand. That is very important to me and makes me feel great. But sometimes it’s just a matter of not knowing the terms yet. So all those yrs ago, it may not have been me - just keep that in mind and check the internet for corrections or ask the designer (if they will answer-some don’t or won’t take the time).
I want to have a good relationship with people who buy my books or make my designs from magazines. It helps me feel a connection! I’m not just in this for money or to make a living :) I want to help! It does take up time to answer emails and check patterns but I think it’s very important as a designer. Some designers have told me they will say to crocheters who ask questions, “ask the publisher”, but the publisher would just have to ask me the question a reader asks, and I don’t want to bother the publisher since I’m the one who has the answer anyway.

  If you can't figure it out - do what looks right! 
Don’t be afraid to just do what looks right! Just make sure your work is lying flat and looks like the picture. If you think about it, you'll figure it out. It didn’t even cross my mind back when I was 18, or in my 20’s, 30’s and 40’s to just do what looked right. It’s such a simple thing and takes SO much pressure off you! In most cases, you want to do exactly what the pattern says, but if you can't get hold of the designer, publisher and can't find any corrections posted,  as long as it looks right your project should look great! 

I hope I have helped those of you who have never been told these things! Please let me know if you have any questions.
Mary Jane


  1. I think the "stitch count" at the end of each row is a wonderful indicator of well-written patterns; I find it very helpful if I'm crocheting something that is complex.Then, I can know immediately if I goofed--just count the stitches!

  2. I completely agree with you Kathy! I always put the stitch count at the end of a row because I know how much that helps me

  3. I completely agree with you Kathy! I always put the stitch count at the end of a row because I know how much that helps me