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Banish The Overwhelm: Essential Crochet Abbreviations Made Simple

Banish The Overwhelm: Essential Crochet Abbreviations Made Simple

If you’ve fallen in love with crochet, but are finding moving on from learning with tutorials to completing patterns a bit of a challenge, then you’re in the right place. Here we seek to simplify crochet patterns by providing a helpful explanation of the UK crochet abbreviations, to provide you with a better understanding of the stitches that feature in your pattern, as well as the instructions being given, and the techniques being suggested.


US and UK Crochet Abbreviations - What’s The Difference?


Crochet patterns can be complex to digest for a few reasons, the first being that crochet terminology differs slightly between UK crochet techniques, and US crochet techniques. If you compare the two, you’ll find that the same crochet abbreviation can refer to one stitch in a UK pattern, and an entirely different stitch in a US pattern. The reason for this? The term which the UK and the US give to the first and simplest crochet stitch differs. Whilst the US calls this stitch a single crochet (sc) the UK refers to it as a double crochet (dc)... and this differentiator unfortunately  throws the rest of the terminology off-kilter as the stitch complexity increases. The next step up (in terms of stitches) is referred to as double crochet (dc) in US patterns, but in UK patterns will be labelled as treble crochet (tc). 


Understandably, this means that whilst UK  and US crochet patterns might feature the same abbreviations, they can actually stand for different things. Generally speaking, you’ll find the UK stitch names are always one number above the US stitch names; this is because the US terms originate from the number of times the yarn is pulled over when fulfilling your first stitch, whilst the UK terms are based on the number of loops on your crochet hook.


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Crochet Symbols - What Are they Used For?


Not only will you find the written instructions within your crochet pattern listed as a long set of abbreviations you’ve likely never encountered before, but you might also come across a symbol-filled diagram too, designed to help provide a visual representation of how your finished work should look, in terms of stitch layout. 


Guest blogger, Mary Beth Temple provides a fantastic guide to understanding these symbols and interpreting the crochet pattern diagrams right here


These can be incredibly helpful, alongside an abbreviated pattern, in helping you to understand how your rows of crochet stitches should come together to produce the finished project, and making it easier for you to visualise where you are, as you work through the written pattern.


In this article, we’ll seek to demystify the crochet abbreviations you’ll find in your UK crochet patterns, so that you can dive into your next crochet project with confidence.


Most Common UK Crochet Abbreviations Explained: 


alt: This is short for ‘alternate’ or ‘alternative’ and is usually used when you are being instructed to perform two or more different stitches, actions or techniques alternately to one another.


beg: In a crochet pattern this abbreviation represents the word ‘begin’ or ‘beginning.’ You’ll see it either as part of an instruction telling you to start or ‘begin,’ or as a reference to the ‘beginning’ of your pattern piece or row, if this is to be used as a marker point.


ch: This is an abbreviation of ‘chain’ which is a fundamental crochet stitch. Nearly all crochet patterns begin with chains; if you are working in the round you will likely begin with either a magic circle, or a few chain stitches joined together to form a loop. If you are starting a new crochet row, your first action will be to ‘chain’ a string of stitches which you can then work your next row into.


chsp: This abbreviation stands for ‘chain space’ and refers to the space left when you are working one or more chains in a row. You may see it written with a number, i.e. ‘ch 1 sp.’ When crocheting a chain, you will skip a stitch and work into the next stitch in the chain to create the space. If the instruction reads ‘dc in ch 1 sp,’ then in the next row, you will work a double crochet stitch into that space.


dec: This is short for ‘decrease’ and refers to decreasing the number of stitches in a row by working two or more stitches together. You may also see this written out more literally, e.g. ‘dc2tog’ which is an abbreviation of ‘double crochet 2 together.’ See ‘dc2tog’ below, for a more detailed explanation. 


dc: This is an abbreviation of the UK crochet stitch: double crochet. Always check whether the pattern you are using features UK or US abbreviations however, as the stitch referred to as double crochet by the UK, differs from that which the US refers to as double crochet.


dc2tog: This is an abbreviation detailing how you are to decrease the number of stitches in the row. This tells you what stitch to use (double crochet) and what you are doing with it (working two stitches together into one to decrease).


dtr: This is an abbreviation of the UK crochet stitch: double treble crochet.


htr: This is an abbreviation of the UK crochet stitch: half treble crochet.


inc: This is short for ‘increase’ or ‘increasing,’ and is the opposite of decreasing. In order to increase the number of stitches in the row, you will be asked to work more than once into a single stitch. 


lpst: An abbreviation for ‘loop stitch,’ this is used to create long loose loops as you work a stitch, to add texture and interest to the project in question.


p: This stands for ‘picot’ which refers to a small decorative loop, commonly used to add detailing to the edges of a piece of work, that the crocheter creates by using the chain stitch. 


rtrb:  This crochet pattern abbreviation stands for ‘raised treble back’. This is a raised variation of a standard crochet stitch designed to add texture to the piece. Raised stitches are created by working the stitch around the stitch below, rather than into the top of the stitch. To work a ‘rtrb’, the hook is inserted from the back of the work.


rtrf: This crochet pattern abbreviation stands for ‘raised treble front’. This is a raised variation of a standard crochet stitch designed to add texture to the piece. It is exactly the same as the ‘rtrb’ above - apart from one difference.  To work ‘rtrf’ the hook is inserted from the front of the work.


rs: This is short for the ‘right side’ of the piece of fabric you are crocheting, and refers to the face of the fabric, or the side that will be visible/on the outside. The ws - or ‘wrong side’ of your fabric is the back, or the side which will be on the inside/unseen.


sk: This abbreviation stands for the word ‘skip’, and will be used when the pattern requires you to skip a stitch, instead of working into it. The pattern may specify with a number how many stitches you are to skip, before you commence working into the row once more.


ss: This is the abbreviation for ‘slip stitch’ -  an essential crochet stitch that is commonly used for joining stitches, either joining the beginning and the end of your work, when working in rounds, or to join a yarn to your piece and start crocheting from a new location in the project.


st(s): this an abbreviation for the term stitch(es).


tog: An abbreviation for ‘together,’ this is used when the pattern requires you to work two or more stitches together at the same time; e.g. ‘dc2tog’ instructs that two stitches should be crocheted together using the double crochet stitch, as a means of decreasing. 


tch: This refers to the turning chain which is crocheted when you reach the end of a row of stitches, and enables you to turn the work and begin crocheting the next row.


tr: This is an abbreviation of the UK crochet stitch: treble crochet. Always check whether the pattern you are using features UK or US abbreviations however, as the stitch referred to as treble crochet by the UK, differs from that which the US refers to as treble crochet.


yoh or yo: This is an abbreviation of ‘yarn over hook’ or simply ‘yarn over’, both of which refer to the action of wrapping the yarn over the hook as part of the process of forming a crochet stitch.


ws: This is short for the ‘wrong side’ of your crochet piece, and refers to the back of your fabric, or the side which will be hidden/on the inside, as opposed to ‘rs’ which refers to the face of the fabric you are crocheting.


Now that you’ve become acquainted with some of the most commonly used UK crochet abbreviations, you can put your translation skills to the test and practise working through this pattern with our step-by-step guidance. Ultimately, the best way to get to grips with understanding crochet patterns and turning that page full of crochet abbreviations into a beautiful finished project… is to keep crocheting! 


For more information on choosing the perfect crochet hooks for the job, explore our in-depth guide to crochet hooks right here.

We can’t wait to see what you create.


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