Tutorial how to read a crochet chart – diagram

Tutorial how to read Symbols in a Crochet Chart/Diagram

Row by Row Chart

 tutorial read crochet charts

Some crocheters are not familiar with reading crochet charts. Here is a tutorial that takes you by the hand and shows you how to read a crochet diagram with a crocheted example.

Following a crochet chart is not complicated once you understand what the crochet symbols stand for. The chart will often show you a few rows of the stitch pattern and not the whole pattern. In my opinion charted patterns are much easier to follow than written patterns, since you are taught visually, where you have to place the next stitch.

Each symbol refers to a specific crochet stitch. Crochet symbols are universal, that means they refer to the same stitches everywhere around the globe. That way one can use Japanese crochet patterns without being able to understand a single word Japanese.

On top of the page I placed a photo of a crocheted swatch.

Below you see the crochet chart for that swatch and below that a stitch guide for the different crochet symbols that are included in the stitch chart. In this example chains, single crochets and double crochets were used.

tutorial how to read a crochet chart diagram

stitch guide for crochet chart tut

Now I will take you by the hand and explain how you read the above crochet chart/diagram.

You start reading the chart from the bottom and work up row by row.

At the bottom you see the foundation chain.

The pattern starts with 22 chains.

Row 1   The first row shown in blue is worked from the right to the left. Chain 1, skip 1.

21 times: 1 single crochet in next stitch.

Row 2   The second row shown in red is worked from the left to the right. Chain 3, skip 3, 1 single crochet, *skip 4, chain 5, 1 single crochet*, repeat between ** 2 more times, skip 2, chain 2, 1 single crochet.

Row 3  The third green row is worked from the right to the left. Chain 3, work 2 double crochets into previous rows chains, chain 3, 1 single crochet into next chains from previous row, chain 3, 5 double crochets into next chains from previous row,  chain 3, 1 single crochet into next chains from previous row, 3 chains, 3 double crochets into next chains from previous row.

Row 4  The 4th purple row is worked from the left to the right. Chain 3, 1 single crochet into chains of previous row, *chain 5, 1 single crochet into chains of previous row*, repeat between ** 2 more times, chain 2, 1 single crochet into previous rows 3rd chain stitch.

Row 5  The 5th brown row is worked from the right to the left. Chain 4, skip 3, 5 double crochets into next chains from previous row, chain 3, 1 single crochet into next chains from previous row, chain 3, 5 double crochets into next chains from previous row, 3 chains, 1 single crochet into previous rows first chain.

Row 6  This blue row is worked from the left to the right. Chain 5, 1 single crochet into previous rows chains, chain 5, skip 5, 1 single crochet into previous rows chains, chain 5,1 single crochet into previous rows chains, chain 5, skip 5, 1 single crochet into previous rows chains, chain 2, 1 double crochet into previous rows first chain.

I hope this instruction helps you, if you want to work my chart only crochet patterns. You are welcome to send me a comment, if anything is unclear to you.

I have also written a tutorial how to read a motif chart.

US crochet terms were used for this tutorial. If you are not familiar with these, see my translation infographic about Crochet terms in US, UK, German and Danish.

For the crochet charts  I used the font stitchincrochet by Adriprints.

66 thoughts on “Tutorial how to read a crochet chart – diagram

  1. I was able to understand most of your chart / diagram. I’ve always crocheted by written instructions, so this is very new to me. I previously made a poncho which has a back and front from a chart and I’m at a complete lost with the chart on how to put it together. After viewing your instructions I’m going to give it one more try.

  2. I’ve been crocheting for 59 years, and diagrams are a lot more confusing to me than following a written pattern. I don’t think I could ever understand diagrams, let alone be able to see those tiny figures.

  3. Pingback: Crochet Tutorial: Reading Crochet Charts - review.daylinow.com

    I understand all the symbols and where to put them. But First you got to work from the right to the left. And then in row 2 you have to work from the left to the right.. But when I turn my work over it’s again from the right to the left. And the beginning is never right, because I turned it over. This is getting me so mad. I tried many many charts but not one teaches me how to go from left to right. Please HELP ME!

    • Hi Milou,
      I understand from your comment, that you know, you have to turn your crochet work in row 2.
      A crochet chart will always show you the stitches from the right side, never from the back. And in row 2 the back side of the crochet work is facing you. So you have to imagine, that in row 2 you move from left to right, as if you would see the fabric from the right side.

      Perhaps you could imagine it like this: Work in front of a theater curtain and work at the back of it :-)

      Try to start with very easy crochet charts and then try harder ones as times go by.

      Good luck with it!

    • I saw a tutorial that suggests you have the chart printed onto a transparency, that way you turn the chart over at the end of your first row to start from right to left again, then turn the chart over each time you do a new row. I am very new at this.

      • Hi,
        That is a new idea and sounds great if you have access to a printer that can do that. But I think if you want to learn it, you have to take an easy pattern and work your way throught it, until you know how to read the pattern backwards.

  5. Pingback: Crochet Symbol Charts; Are They the New Thing? -


  7. Nice diagram chart explaining steps. It helps even people who are not familiar with crochet charts. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Pingback: Resources for Reading a Crochet Diagram — Crochet Concupiscence

  9. I read your whole tutorial on learning how to read crochet charts. I’m still confused about the part where you did the chart row by row. The second row shows ch 3 then you say to skip one or however many. How do you know to “skip” any?? Thanks

    • Hi Joanne,
      You can see on the chart how many stitches on the row beneath you are skipping.
      In crochet it is very common, that you crochet chains and skip stitches in the row you just made.

  10. Pingback: Claire Bacchi - Page 2

  11. I’m making an old-fashioned chair doilie and it’s flat with a picture of “Swans Swimming” and I’m wondering with my first row it’s right to left then my second row I read from the left of the pattern to the right and switch with each row, right to left, second row read and do from left to right and so on all the way through?

    • Hi Edie,
      That is also the way I would read it: You make a foundation chain with chains from left to right and move on as you describe: You switch working right to left, left to right, right to left…

      Good luck with the pattern :-)

      • Thank you so very much, Birgit. I was up to the swan and the lines were not working right is when I noticed I wasn’t doing something right. I have done the whole thing wrong by going right to left all the time but thank goodness, I know what I was doing wrong now. Thanks for your time and your answer.

  12. Thank you for this tutorial. I can use charts for filet crochet, but I have always resisted charts for other crochet projects. I think the reason is that I am not a visual person, but an aural learner. I read row by row instructions out loud and then I simply crochet what I hear. :) BUT your tutorial has made me want to try a project with a chart, and I thank you for your good instructions.

  13. Hello!

    I was taught with verbal/written directions, so reading charts is new and exciting. I’ll admit that I am a little confused between how something could be shown in the charts.

    For example, in Row 3, you wrote: “work 2 double crochets into previous rows chains”. Looking at the chart, I would interpret this as working a double crochet into the chain stitch. But in looking at the swatch that you made, the double crochets are clearly in the chain-spaces, not the individual chain stitches.

    My question, then, is how do you tell the difference between putting a stitch into a chain versus putting a stitch into a chain-space?


    • Hi Shelley,
      I checked with my Japanese stitch guides which don’t have any written instructions. In the charts there is no difference to see if you make a stitch into the chain space beneath or if you crochet it into a stitch. That means if you are in doubt about this you will have to check a photo of the finished work/swatch or you can check the written instructions for reference.
      In my experience charted projects a way much faster to work with, because you don’t have to read your way through stitch by stitch.

      If I had wanted you to crochet into a stitch in my swatch the instructions for that would have been much more specific, like: “4 times: 1 double crochet in next stitch”.

  14. Hey!

    So interesting! I never learned to read a chart, but, I think it should be more easier than it really is. Cause all the things we could make!! But, alas, I think you have to “born that way”!

    I STILL don’t get how you get a skip on the first row. I don’t see it…doesn’t even have a inkling of a skipped stitch. Just a row of single crochet! Wow… please show me again!

    I always wanted to know if there is anyone out there that will put these Russian and Japanese charts into step by step instructions. They could make a ton of money. In fact, I have never even seen a book of re-worked russian or Japanese patterns. If there are so many people who want to make that stuff, there should be folks out there willing to do a conversion. I’m wondering why that isn’t so.

    Anyway.. would love to know how to read a skip in that pattern! :-) Very interesting piece here.. I learned a lot! Thanks. Pat at the NJ Shore.

    • Hi Patricia,
      A skip means that you skip a stitch in the row below and insert your hook in the stitch after the skipped stitch. Since skipping a stitch is a non action you cannot show this in a crochet chart. And you don’t need to show this in a chart, since the chart clearly shows you where to skip and where to insert your hook. In a written instruction you need this information where you skip a stitch.
      The first chains you read from the left to the right. The first row you read that from the right to the left. You can see that the first single crochet is not made in the last chain of the foundation chain. I skip the last chain made in the foundation chain and make a single crochet in the next chain.
      Hope everything is clear now.

  15. Pingback: Papillon Scarf - IndusLadies

  16. Thank you for this lesson! I follow everything except where you say “skip”. As in row two, you say “chain 3 ,Skip 3, then single crochet. Im seeing: Chain 3, single crochet. Im not seeing what is suppose to be telling me to skip 3. then you go on to skip 4. What symbol is telling me to skip stitches? I’m not seeing it.
    Also , When you say to read the even numbered rows from left to right. I would still turn my work and actually be working right to left. Am I understanding this?
    Thanks so much for your help. I’ve got alot to learn yet, but I’m getting there!

    • Hi Cyndi,
      When the pattern says skip 3, you will not crochet anything in the next 3 stitches of the pattern. In row 2 you do not crochet a stitch in one of the first 3 single crochets from row 1. The first stitch in row 2 is crocheted into the 4th single crochet from the left. There is no symbol for a skip, because the command skip tells you to skip/omit working into the next stitch/stitches.
      The crochet pattern is alway seen from one side. So you mention correctly, that you will turn your work and have to visualize, that you are working on the back of the project.

      You’ll get there. Once you understand it all those great, free Japanese patterns can be mastered :-)

      • Thank you for geting back to me so fast! I guess Im still a little confused. When you said this: There is no symbol for a skip, because the command skip tells you to skip/omit working into the next stitch/stitches. Are you saying there will always be written instructions with a chart?
        Thanks Again! I really appreciate your help!

        • Hi Cindy,
          It depends, if there are written instructions for a chart. In the US tradition you will always have a written instruction, that may be accompanied by a chart.(Interweave Crochet has many good charts nowadays). In the European tradition the written instruction can be a bit vague and then the chart is used as a guidance. The chart in Europe will often be a smaller stitch guide and you have to repeat the stitchguide more times to make the whole pattern. In Japan the charts are very elaborate and there are few written Japanese instructions. I taught myself how to crochet with the help of Japanese crochet books without knowing a single Japanese word. Their patterns are mostly fabulous and well edited.
          Skips: Imagine you are crocheting on a row 2 and make 4 chains. Maybe you don’t want to crochet into the next 2 stitches of row 1. If there is no chart available, you will need an instruction for how many stitches to skip to know in what stitch of row 1 you’ll place your next stitch.

          • I’m still confused.

            I believe you are saying that the chart and the written instructions may not always match.

            But if we do not have written instructions (or complete ones) for your chart, let’s say, then how would we know where on your chart to “skip 2” or “skip 1” since your chart does not show where that “non action” action happens. It just sows the circle and the X where you are saying those happen 2 chains apart… I understand that you can’t chart or graph a non-stitch…(a non action), but then, if skips are ever required anywhere, you’d either need a great photo of the pattern, or have some written instructions that point out the skips. ???

            Do I have that correctly? So, in the end, we may or may not be able to read a foreign language chart and description well enough to figure out the pattern (unless there is a great photo). I am working on a french one right now, and it is pretty basic… and babelfish helped me to translate most of the written instructions. I have found though, that the chart actually is a better guide, as even the translated instructions are a bit word definition-“challenged” , so to speak.

            I guess, for me, I’d like to know how to take a chart and be able to write instructions for the chart. If not for that pesky “skip x” aspect, I guess there is not really a way to do that unless you have a good photo of the pattern.

            Thanks! I’m a graphic person too, so I’m now going to take my next step forward in crocheting by attempting harder stitch patterns by locating patterns specifically if they have diagrams/charts. A new skill! Love it.

          • Hi Lisa,

            There are different kind of charts depending on which kind of crochet culture patterns comes from. In Germany you can find patterns where you will have a pattern repeat shown on a chart and then you’ll have to figure out to repeat that pattern more times. For example the chart shows 2 pattern repeats, but the written pattern tells you to to crochet 9 pattern repeats. Publishers do this to make the patterns fill less in books. Customers prefer many patterns in crochet books when they flip through them in bookstores, that’s why the patterns come with all those abbreviations and small charts.
            In Japanese patterns there is very little text and everything for a sweater or cardigan is charted. If the pattern is not fully charted there are some visually hints where you have to do the pattern repeats.
            See a PDF file for a Japanese pattern. There is an English text, but you could easily make this little bag only with the charts and the drawings where they show you the width and height of the bottom, sides etc.

            As you say a skip is a non-action and cannot be shown as a crochet symbol. Imagine you build a bridge over a river with LEGO bricks. You make a chart for how the bricks are placed. The bricks over the river are not touching the river. Only on the outer sides the bridge will be grounded on the earth. In a crochet chart you will likewise see that you for example make a stitch in the the first rows first stitch. The you crochet 3 chains and skip 3 stitches in row 1. Then you make a stitch in the 4th stitch of row 1. As in the LEGO example some stitches are crocheted over other stitches, so you don’t crochet into all stitches of a prevoius row.

  17. Thanks for this. I am trying to find diagrams so I can practice, but there are no free diagrams out there that are easy that I can find UGH Lol

  18. Pingback: Art Deco Crochet Purse | By Number 19

  19. Pingback: Free Crochet Pattern: Aphrodite Wrap | By Number 19

  20. Pingback: Papillon Scarf: A Free Crochet Pattern | By Number 19

  21. Pingback: Noro Silk Garden Scarf: Free Crochet Pattern | By Number 19

  22. Pingback: Noro Silk Garden Scarf: Free Crochet Pattern | Number 19

  23. Pingback: Noro Silk Garden Häkelschal: Gratis Häkelvorlage | Number 19

  24. Great explanation. I’ve tried to learn these symbols before as I have some very complex-looking Russian patterns I’d like to give a go but with no lucky. Maybe with a bit of studying now I’ll be able to. ;D

  25. Thank you so much for this great explanation. I also love the pattern you chose to use as an example. I’m fairly new to crochet and this is very helpful!

  26. Pingback: Fingerless Mittens Gloves: Free Crochet Pattern | Number 19

  27. Pingback: Papillon Scarf: A Free Crochet Pattern | Number 19

  28. Pingback: Knitting and Crochet by lesliemendoza - Pearltrees

  29. Hi
    I want to know what is ” sdc “, i am trying to crochet a chair back set. how to do i?

    Another is : 2 dc closed together on next two dc ; (I dont understand how to go about this too !!); the pattern is : (dc on dc) 3 times, 2 dc closed together on next two dc, (dc on dc) twice, 3 ch, dc on single dc, 3 ch *. Repeat from * to * 9 times more; join with sl st in first st.



    • Hi Florie,
      I don’t know the crochet abbreviation sdc either.
      Please contact the designer of the pattern, so that she can clarify how to read her pattern.
      I would guess “2 dc closed together on next two dc” means, that she is making a decrease, where she crochets 2 double crochets together. But I haven’t read that way of decreasing double crochets anywhere before.
      Goood luck with the pattern:-)

  30. Pingback: Tutorial: How to read a crochet chart worked in the round | Number 19

  31. Wow, I like this! I only just started to crochet about a year ago, so I’m not too familiar with reading these charts, but this certainly helps, thank you for sharing!
    And thank you so much for visiting my blog and liking my post about coffee craft, too!

    • Hi Sabrina,
      Your coffee owl is cool! I’m kind off tired seeing owls in crochet and knitting, but your coffee owl is unique:-)
      Glad that the chart tutorial is helpful for you. They are very common in Europe and Japan, but many Americans are not familiar with them.

  32. Pingback: Free Crochet Pattern: Aphrodite Wrap | Number 19

Leave a Reply