If you are new to crochet, you are bound to be inspired by the thousands of beautiful patterns online and in books and magazines. Reading crochet patterns is one set of skills and picking up crochet techniques are quite another. Here are 10 tips to make your pattern reading journey more enjoyable.
1. Always read the pattern from beginning to end before starting the project.
2. Take note of any special stitch patterns or instructions. In high quality patterns, often designers will make special notation to help guide you through a tricky spot in a pattern.
3. If you are making a garment for yourself or someone else, make sure you know your body measurements.
4. There are many fine websites that offer information about crochet terminology, stitch abbreviations, chart symbols and video tutorials on various stitch techniques. Use these to fill in the blanks when you are not sure about a new technique. For example, if you see JAYG, that means Join As You Go, a joining method often done with granny squares. CraftFoxes also has a list of Crochet for Beginners videos to learn the basics.
5. Always swatch to meet gauge. No two hands can create exactly the same gauge the same way, so you may have to go up or down a hook size to meet the gauge called for in a pattern.
6. Make sure you are buying or using good quality patterns. It often is a case of “you get what you pay for.” Free patterns are not always the bargain they appear to be. High quality patterns have been tested, tech edited and formatted by professional designers to ensure that best practices have been followed. It’s worth paying for good patterns so you end up with good results.
7. Do not substitute a different yarn than called for in a pattern without swatching to match gauge first!
8. Use highlighter pens and sticky notes to keep track of special instructions, stitch patterns and to keep your place in longer patterns.
9. Need help with the pattern? Find an online community of crochet enthusiasts and ask questions or, better yet, search out local crochet teachers and take a class.
10. Be kind to yourself! Everyone makes mistakes; no one is automatically good at any skill without time and practice. If you are tired or frustrated with what you are doing, put the project down and take a break. If you keep crocheting and making mistakes or your tension gets too tight the odds of you finishing a project aren’t good.