Crochet Pattern Essentials — Reading Crochet and Amigurumi Patterns

Posted by on Mar 20, 2011

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When you crochet, a quality pattern is just as important as great stitching when creating a well-done finished piece. Rita Taylor, author of "Crochet: 200 Q&A", gives us advice on the best resources for crochet patterns, decoding confusing instructions and how to work on the popular Japanese crochet style know as amigurumi.

Where's the best place to find free crochet patterns? Should you be cautious when using free patterns?
Crochet Pattern Central has lots of patterns, but crochet is such an easy craft to experiment with that you can design your own. When following a free pattern, remember that U.S. and U.K. terms for crochet are different, and it may not always be clear which terminology a pattern writer has used. For example, U.K. double crochet (DC) = U.S. single crochet (SC), U.K. treble crochet (TR) = U.S. double crochet (DC). Always do a swatch before you start and compare the result with the photo if there is one. People may avoid certain projects because they’re intimidated by the crochet pattern instructions.

Are there any common things that tend to be left out of instructions that people should watch out for? As I said, it's not always clear whether the instructions are in U.S. or U.K. terminology. It is also less common in crochet patterns to give the number of rows to the inch so take care if you decide to use a different stitch. Not all pattern instructions, especially the older ones, explain whether the turning chain is counted in the number of stitches, so watch out for this, too. If you feel intimidated by the written instructions try writing the International Crochet Symbols on a piece of graph paper until you understand how the pattern works. Crochet is great, but it seems like knitting patterns are more popular.

Do you have any tips for converting knitting patterns to crochet? While this can be done you will never get an exact copy of a knitted item if you make it in crochet. You can use the initial shape and then choose a crochet stitch that will work for that design, but remember that one row of single crochet is roughly equal to two rows of knitting. It's much more fun to start from scratch with a stitch you like and then design something that's entirely your own.

You have a section in your book on amigurumi (Japanese art of crocheting small toy animals). A few years ago, it was nearly impossible to find an amigurumi pattern in English, but now they're more popular than ever. What do you think caused its rise in popularity in the West?
There has been a rise in the popularity of crafts of all kinds over the last few years. The little pieces produced by amigurumi are easy for crochet newcomers to make as they are worked in the round with a simple stitch and there is no measuring involved.

Are there any special techniques that you need to know to make an amigurumi doll? The only special techniques that you need to know are to work with a smaller hook than you would usually use for the weight of yarn; and to learn how to embroider the features.

Want to make your own amigurumi doll?
Start with this free baby chick amigurumi pattern from Amigurumi By Knotty or the easy amigurumi owl from Robotrish.

cover of Crochet: 200 Q&A
Rita Tyalor is the author of Crochet: 200 Q&A, published by Barron's Educational Services.

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