How to Read Crochet Abbreviations

3 of 12 in Series: The Essentials of Crocheting a Gauge Swatch

Most crochet stitches appear as abbreviations to save space on the written instructions. For example, you’ll see the abbreviation dc instead of double crochet stitch throughout a pattern.

Crochet abbreviations don’t have periods after them in order to keep the instructions as clutter-free as possible. If you do come across a period that isn’t at the end of the sentence or action, it’s probably attached to an abbreviation that's easily confused with another word, such as in. meaning inches as opposed to in — the word.

Common Crochet Abbreviations
Abbreviation Spelled-Out Term
approx approximately
beg begin(ning)
bet between
blp back loop only
BP back post
CC contrast color
ch chain
dc double crochet
dec decrease(s)(d)(ing)
dtr double triple crochet
flp front loop only
foll follow(ing)
FP front post
hdc half double crochet
inc increase(s)(d)(ing)
MC main color
pat pattern
rem remaining
rep repeat
rib ribbing
RS right side
sc single crochet
sl st slip stitch
st(s) stitch(es)
tog together
tr triple crochet
WS wrong side
yo yarn over hook

One notation that you see quite frequently in crocheting instructions is the hyphen. Instructions commonly use the hyphen when referring to a chain loop — the hyphen denotes the number of chains you work to create a particular loop. For example, a ch-5 loop is a loop made up of 5 chain stitches. Don’t confuse this instruction, however, with ch 5, which instructs you to make a chain of 5 chain stitches in a row.

Some patterns combine several basic stitches into a more complex stitch. For example, 5 double crochet stitches worked in the same stitch is called a shell because it resembles the shape of a clamshell. Besides having their own names, these special stitches may also have their own abbreviations.

Special stitches aren’t standardized and may have different definitions in each pattern that you encounter. For example, one pattern may define a shell as 5 double crochet stitches, but another pattern may define it as only 3 double crochet stitches. Before you begin, be sure to check the beginning of the pattern’s instructions for the definition of each special stitch.

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The Essentials of Crocheting a Gauge Swatch

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