How to Read Crochet Symbols

Crochet instructions use symbols, such as parentheses, brackets, and bullets, to represent certain actions. After you decipher these crochet symbols, you'll be able to read a crochet pattern like a pro.

  • Parentheses: Instruction writers use parentheses to designate a repeated set of actions and stitches or to sum up a row. Here’s a list of the different reasons instruction writers use these handy little arcs:

    • To isolate a set of 2 or more stitches that you work all in 1 stitch.

    • To enclose a set of stitches that you repeat a number of times in succession.

    • To sum up a completed row or round.

    • To distinguish different sizes in a garment pattern.

      If a garment pattern is written for three sizes, it includes separate instructions for the two larger sizes in parentheses.

  • Brackets: Crochet instructions use brackets in the following ways:

    • Some patterns use brackets interchangeably with parentheses to isolate repeated phrases of stitches. They may also appear as a set or phrase within another.

    • Patterns use brackets within parentheses to sum up the number of stitches for different sizes.

  • Bullets and other special symbols: Patterns use symbols such as bullets (), asterisks (*), plus signs (+), and crosses (†) in instructions to show the repetition of a series of crochet stitches:

    • Some patterns use only one symbol at the beginning of a phrase and then direct you to repeat from that symbol a designated number of times.

    • You may also see bullet symbols marking both the beginning and end of a repeated phrase.

      The instructions may reference this repeat again if the phrase within the bullets is used at a different section of the row or round.

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