How to Read a Crochet Pattern – Part 2

This tutorial is written for the crocheter who knows how to crochet basic stitches and would like to explore patterns designed by Mary Maxim.  This tutorial does not show how to crochet each stitch from the beginning to end, but does show you one repeat of the stitches written in pattern and relies on you, the crocheter, to continue following the instructions in the pattern with some guidance to complete the project.  You may find it helpful to review Part 1 before moving forward on this tutorial.

The pattern we selected for this tutorial, the Crochet Dishcloth – Striped Dishcloth pattern was selected because it has a few elements that are typical in Mary Maxim patterns. This pattern shows how repeats are written in different ways both in a row and as a repeated row. It also uses mostly basic stitches and can be completed in one sitting.  However, this is just the beginning of the world of designed and written patterns.  Know that in each pattern designed by Mary Maxim, some basic information is assumed and the purpose of this tutorial is to inform on pattern reading and not crochet techniques.  We recommend if you have any questions, or need assistance with a technique please contact our Project Assistance Team.  They are available Monday through Friday 10am-4pm call (800) 962-9504 for assistance.

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Review the Instructions

The Striped Dishcloth is graded as an “Intermediate” pattern, but it may be simpler than what you think.  The center of the pattern consists mainly of rows 2 and 3 worked on repeat with 9 color changes and a simple single crochet border.  To crochet this pattern you will need to know how to make a beginning chain (ch), single crochet (sc), double crochet (dc), how to change color, and know how to join with a slip stitch (sl st).  Additional abbreviations you will need to review are remaining (rem), repeat (rep), and round (rnd).  You can find all stitches and abbreviations used in the pattern listed under the “Stitch Guide”.  Patterns are written using common abbreviations in order to make reading faster and easier.  

The next thing to notice when reviewing the pattern is that the repeat on Row 2 does not repeat a full 3rd time.  When crocheting Mary Maxim patterns, there are a few general rules on how to read repeats in a row.

[ Brackets ] indicate a repeat in a row

( Parentheses ) indicate something special in a bracket (repeat) or what should be worked in the same stitch

*  Asterisk indicates where to start repeats

**  Double Asterisk indicates where the repeat ends or indicates a repeat in a row

Make sure to read through the entire pattern completely before beginning.  We recommend that you read the pattern to yourself out loud before you begin.  Some find it helpful to have another person read the pattern to them.


Beginning Chain & Row 1

Read the pattern instructions, and follow the pictures (video available at the end of this post). After the pictures, there are more detailed written explanations available if you need further assistance. Please note that more details are often more confusing, which is why patterns are written in shorthand.  If you are doing well following the pattern, we recommend relying on pattern instructions to crochet your dishcloth and reviewing the explanation for additional information on pattern reading.

Row 1 pattern.jpgfoundation chainSc in second chain from hookRow1bRow 1 turn.jpg

Begin by chaining 31 to complete your beginning chain.

Row 1:  Single crochet in the second chain from the hook, and in each remaining chain then finish your row by turning your work.  This leaves you with 30 stitches since we skipped the first chain. The skipped chain helps keep your edges even, this functions similar to the chain 3 at the beginning of the next row, but on single crochet rows it rarely, if ever, counts as a stitch. Make sure to count your stitches at the end of each row. This is the only row that indicates a stitch count because it’s the only row where there is an increase or, in our case, a decrease of the total amount of stitches or chains.  Subsequent rows will all have a count of 30 stitches.  Counting your stitches at the end of each row is the easiest way to check that all of your stitches are placed in the correct spot.  Notice that each row ends with a period, then the number of stitches in the row are indicated with parentheses.


Row 2

Row 2 pattern.jpg

Row 2 ch 3row 2 dc in next scrow 2 skip next scrow 2 dc in skippedrow 2 skip next 2 scrow 2 arrows.jpgrow 2 dc in each of the next 4 sc.jpgRow 2 3 times b.jpgrow 2 ending at .jpgrow 2 dc in each of last 2 sc.jpgrow 2  b.jpg

Row 2:  Row 2 begins with “(right side)”, we indicate right and wrong side when writing patterns for in order to give further instructions later in the patter.  Often we indicate right or wrong side with joining other elements such as a border and because ends are woven in on wrong sides.  In this case, we have indicated the right side so you can see what is shown in the sample pictured on the pattern and for weaving in ends.

Start working Row 2 with a ch 3. In parentheses, it is indicated that the ch 3 counts as a double crochet, now and throughout the pattern. Anytime you see a ch 3 at the beginning of a row, know that it is the same as a double crochet. This is important when you get to Row 3 as you are instructed to “sc in each dc across” this ch 3 is included and you will sc in the last chain of the ch 3.  You will also notice that the Ch. 3 is capitalized, that is because we treat each row as a sentence, you will also notice that most words, even when abbreviated are spelled out when they begin a row.  A (Ch) Chain is an exception to this rule.

Next, double crochet in the next single crochet of Row 1, sometimes this is written as dc in next st.

The next group of stitches are enclosed in brackets “[  ]” meaning this is the beginning of the repeat.  The repeat starts by skipping the next single crochet, then double crocheting in each of the next two stitches.  Working in front of the stitches, double crochet in the skipped stitch that you passed.  By doing this, your yarn will wrap around the two previous stitches worked.  See the image below.

row 2 work in front.jpg

Then skip the next two stitches, and double crochet in the next stitch.  This would be the third stitch from the last single crochet of Row 1 that has a stitch worked in it. Now working behind that stitch, double crochet in the two stitches that were skipped.  In the images used to show the stitches step by step, we indicated this with two arrows behind the stitch.  The image below shows this stitch worked without the arrows.  Also, notice the two asterisks ( **) that end this group of stitches.  In reviewing the pattern, you should have noticed that this is the spot where the repeat ends on the third repeat in the row.

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Now that you have finished the repeat, dc in each of the last two stitches and turn to complete your row.  Check your work by counting your stitches and reviewing the row instructions.


Row 3

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Row 3 aRow 3 changing to white in last st.jpg

Row 3:  Start Row 3 with a chain 1, this helps to keep your edges straight.  Then crochet in each double crochet of Row 2 across the Row.  Notice that a chain 1 is not treated as a stitch, so at the end of the row you should have 30 single crochet and 1 ch. Make sure to change your yarn to White in the last stitch as indicated above.

To change color, continue your stitches as normal except pull through using the new color at the very end of the stitch.  In this part of our pattern, we are completing a single crochet.  To change color in the last single crochet, you will in insert your hook and draw up a loop, then draw the new color through both loops, see the second picture above.


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Row 4 and 5:  Row 4 and 5 repeats Rows 2 and 3 but in White, then changing into Blue cotton on the last stitch of Row 5.  Row 4 is worked as Row 2, and Row 5 is worked as Row 3.  If you need help working through the stitches, make sure to refer to the guides for Row 2 on this blog post and the video below as you work the 4th Row.  Pause after completing Row 5 and check your gauge.  We discussed this in the first part of this series and go into further discussion here.

Next repeat Rows 2-5 three more times, each one of these repeats is a Blue and White stripe.  This repeat is the bulk of your project so it’s important that you are able to understand the instructions written in Row 2 and Row 3.  Now repeat Rows 2-3 once (these are Blue rows) again changing to White in the last stitch of Row 3.  This finishes the center of your dishcloth.

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Border

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This border is fairly simple, and each stitch is written out for you as you complete the round.  Years ago these same rounds may have been written as just “2 rounds of single crochet border”, again because many instructions were considered to be understood.

Round 1:  We’ve already changed our color to White and turned our work in the last stitch of the Row 3 repeat. When crocheting the rounds, we will continue using White cotton. Start with a single crochet in each single crochet stitch of the previous row except working 3 single crochet in the corner, or the last stitch of the row. Now turn your work so you are working down the ends of each row. Crochet 2 single crochet at the end of each double crochet row and 1 single crochet at the end of each single crochet row (see the picture above).  Next work 3 single crochet in the corner.  Then, work into your beginning chain, work a single crochet in each of the unused loop or loops of your beginning chain depending on how you worked your first row.  If you look at the picture above there is only one loop to be worked into, making sure to work 3 single crochets in the last stitch of the row.  Turn your work again so you are working down the ends of each row and again complete 2 single crochet at the end of each double crochet row and 1 single crochet at the end of each single crochet row.  Crochet 3 single crochet in the corner and slip stitch in the first sc to join.

Round 2:  Begin this round with a chain 1 and single crochet in each single crochet of Round 1, crocheting 3 single crochets in each corner. Remember you crocheted 3 single crochet in each corner in the previous round so you will want to place the next group of 3 single crochet in the second or middle single crochet stitch of the 3 single crochet group from Round 1.  Join the first single crochet with a slip stitch.  Fasten off and weave in all ends.

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How to Read a Crochet Pattern – Part 2 – Video


How to Read a Crochet Pattern – Part 3

Stay tuned for How to Read a Crochet Pattern – Part 3.  In the last part of this series, we focus on troubleshooting common errors when crocheting from a pattern.  If you would like us to cover something specific, please leave us a suggestion in the comment section below.  Make sure to tag us when you post featuring a Mary Maxim project on your social media using the tag #sharewithmary.  We love admiring your work!


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Happy Crafting!

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Gwen Bautista

I was introduced to the fiber arts like many crafters by my great-grandmother. She was determined that if I ever needed to repair some socks or make myself a sweater then I would know how. Little did she know that it has led to a rather large yarn hoarding addiction and fascination with needles. As a life long crafter I am always learning new techniques and improving my skills.

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