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Must-Know Crochet Terms and Abbreviations

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In this article, we’ll define 60+ of the most common crochet terms and abbreviations. You’ll learn the difference between a slip stitch (sl st) and a single crochet (sc), and why it matters how many times you yarn over (yo). We’ll even discuss how to read a crochet pattern (which, trust me, is not as scary as it sounds!)

variety of aluminum crochet hooks on a gray background

As a crochet teacher and pattern designer, I know that learning to read crochet abbreviations is like learning a new language. It can be overwhelming at first – like deciphering some secret code! But I promise, with a little practice, these abbreviations will become second nature.

So let’s press on together and walk through all the terms and abbreviations you need to know to read and understand crochet patterns.

Basic Crochet Stitch Abbreviations

Let’s start with the abbreviations for the six basic crochet stitches. These terms form the backbone of nearly all crochet patterns you’ll encounter. 

Chain (ch): This is the foundation of most crochet projects. You create a chain by yarning over and pulling through to create new chain stitches.

Slip Stitch (sl st): A slip stitch often used to join work when working in rounds, or to move your yarn across stitches without adding height. To make a slip stitch, insert your hook, yarn over, and pull through both loops on the hook in one go. It’s as simple as that!

Single Crochet (sc): The single crochet is incredibly versatile and forms the basis for many patterns and textures. To make a single crochet, insert your hook into the stitch, yarn over, pull through, yarn over again, and pull through both loops on your hook.

Half Double Crochet (hdc): The half double crochet is, as the name suggests, a stitch that’s in between a single crochet and a double crochet. It’s slightly taller than a single crochet, with a bit more texture. To make a half double crochet, yarn over before inserting your hook into the stitch, then yarn over and pull through. You should have three loops on your hook. Yarn over again and pull through all three loops.

Double Crochet (dc): The double crochet is a taller stitch. To make a double crochet, yarn over, insert your hook into the stitch, yarn over and pull through. You’ll have three loops on your hook. Yarn over and pull through the first two loops, then yarn over and pull through the remaining two loops.

Treble Crochet (tr): Also known as triple crochet, the treble crochet is an even taller stitch that’s great for creating loose, drapey fabrics. To make a treble crochet, yarn over twice before inserting your hook into the stitch. Yarn over and pull through, yarn over and pull through two loops, yarn over and pull through two loops again, and finally, yarn over and pull through the remaining two loops.

More Stitch Abbreviations

After you’ve learned the six basic stitches, you’re ready to learn the abbreviations for more advanced crochet stitches. Don’t stress about memorizing every single abbreviation – you can always come back to look them up when you need them.

Back Loop/Front Loop Only (BLO/FLO): Usually, stitches are worked under both loops at the top of a stitch. But sometimes, a pattern will instruct you to work into the back loop only (BLO) or the front loop only (FLO) to create a ribbed texture. Usually, you’ll see BLO or FLO combined with a stitch like SC, to create the abbreviation SC-BLO, or “single crochet in the back loops only.”

Bobble (bo): Similar to the popcorn stitch, the bobble stitch also creates a raised 3D effect. It’s typically made by partially completing several double crochets into the same stitch and then joining them together. The number of stitches in a bobble can vary from pattern to pattern, so make sure to double-check the pattern notes.

Cluster (Cl): The “cl” abbreviation generally refers to clusters. But keep in mind that there are many different types of cluster stitches, and your pattern should specify the type being used. For example, a 3-dc cluster would be a cluster of three double crochet stitches. 

Double Treble Crochet (dtr): This is one of the taller crochet stitches, slightly taller than the standard treble crochet.

Front/Back Post (Fp/Bp): Front post and back post stitches are made around the post of the stitch from the previous row, rather than under the top two loops of the stitch. These stitches create a textured, raised pattern on the fabric. Usually, you’ll see FP or BP combined with a stitch like DC, to create the abbreviation Fpdc – aka a “Front post double crochet.”

Magic Ring/Circle (MR): A magic ring or circle is a technique used to start crocheting in the round, resulting in a tightly closed center. This technique is especially useful for projects like amigurumi or top-down hats.

Popcorn (pc): The popcorn stitch is a crochet technique that creates a puffy, 3D texture. It’s usually made by working multiple double crochets into the same stitch and then joining them at the top. The number of stitches in a popcorn can vary from pattern to pattern, so make sure to double-check the pattern notes.

puff stitch (puff): The puff stitch is a decorative stitch that creates a puffy texture on the fabric. It’s similar to the popcorn and bobble stitches.

Triple Treble Crochet (Trtr): This is one of the tallest crochet stitches, even taller than the double treble crochet.

small granny square in blue yarn with a pink and gray crochet hook

Crochet Pattern Terms and Abbreviations

Now that you know the stitches and their abbreviations, it’s time to learn the language of crochet patterns. Patterns often include additional terms and instructions that are crucial to follow for your project to turn out correctly. 

The more terms you learn, the more comfortable you’ll become with reading and understanding crochet patterns. Let’s get to know them!

Alternate (alt): “Alternate” is a term used when you need to do different stitches or sequences in a repeating pattern.

Approximate (approx): “Approximate” is often used to give a rough estimate of the size or quantity of something. For instance, a pattern might say, “approx 200 yards of yarn needed.”

Beginning (beg): “Beginning” usually refers to the start of a row or round. A pattern might tell you to join a round “at the beg,” meaning where you first started that round.

Between (bet): “Between” is usually used to specify that a stitch should be made between two stitches from the previous row or round, rather than into a stitch.

Continue (cont): “Continue” is a term used in patterns to tell you to keep going with the pattern or sequence that’s been established.

Contrasting Color (CC): If a pattern uses multiple colors, it will specify the “main color” (MC) and the “contrasting color” (CC). The MC is the primary color in the project, while the CC is a secondary color.

Decreasing (dec): Decreasing is the method of reducing the number of stitches in work. This is typically done by working two or more stitches together.

Fasten Off: “Fasten off” is the term used when you’ve completed your project, or you’re changing colors. To fasten off, you’ll cut your yarn, leaving a tail, and pull the tail through the last loop on your hook to secure it.

Increasing (inc): Increasing is the process of adding stitches to your work. This is usually done by working more than one stitch into a single stitch from the previous row.

Join: “Join” is a term used in crochet patterns to indicate that you need to connect two parts of your work, usually the end of a round to its beginning. This is usually done using a slip stitch. 

Loop (lp): This is the loop of yarn on your hook at any given time. It could be the starting loop, the loop left after completing a stitch, or the loop you’ve just pulled up in the current stitch.

Main Color (MC): As mentioned above, the main color is the primary color used in the project. This is the color you’ll typically use the most.

Place Marker (pm): This term is used when you need to mark a certain stitch to reference later. You can use a locking stitch marker, a piece of different color yarn, or even a safety pin to mark the stitch. 

Repeat (rep): This is an abbreviation for “repeat.” It’s used in patterns to indicate that a set of instructions should be repeated a certain number of times.

Right Side (RS): The “right side” of a crochet project is the side that is meant to be visible or facing out when the project is used or worn. Depending on the pattern, the right side may have a different texture or appearance compared to the wrong side.

Round (rnd): This is an abbreviation for “round .”A round is a sequence of stitches that are worked in a circular fashion. Rounds can be worked in a spiral or in joined rounds. Crocheting in rounds is common for projects like hats, amigurumi, and doilies. 

Row: A row in crochet is a horizontal sequence of stitches. When you reach the end of a row, you’ll often “turn” your work to start the next one. Most patterns number each Row to help you keep track of your progress.

Skip (sk): To skip means to miss one or more stitches in the row below. This is often used to create spaces in a pattern or to decrease the number of stitches. When a pattern tells you to skip, you simply move to the next stitch as indicated without working into the skipped stitch.

Space (sp): The term “space” or “sp” in a pattern refers to the gap or hole created by a chain stitch in the previous row or round. Instead of inserting your hook into a stitch, you’ll insert it into this space.

Stitch/es (st/s): In a pattern, you’ll often see instructions telling you to work a certain number of stitches. You’ll also see it used at the end of the row or round to indicate the correct stitch count.

Together (tog): The term “together” is used when you’re instructed to crochet two or more stitches together. This is a common method of decreasing. For example, “dc2tog” means to double crochet two stitches together.

Turn: “Turn” is an instruction you’ll often see at the end of a row in a crochet pattern. It simply means to flip your work around so you can start the next row. 

Wrong Side (WS): The “wrong side” is the side of the work that faces inward or isn’t meant to be visible in the finished project.

Yarn Over (yo): Yarn over is the act of wrapping the yarn from back to front over your crochet hook. This is a fundamental part of creating stitches. You might also see this action called “yarn over hook” or “yoh.”

a swatch of crochet shell stitch in gold yarn on a gray background

Understanding Repeats: Parentheses, Brackets, and Asterisks

Here’s where patterns really start to look like code – but don’t worry, we’ll try to break it down for you. Using abbreviations and symbols instead of full terms allows patterns to be more concise and easier to follow once you know the language. You can do this!

Symbols like [ ], ( ), or * * are used to indicate stitch instructions and repeats. Let’s go through them one by one.

Parentheses

Parentheses ( ) are used in two ways. The first way is to define a group of stitches that will all be worked in the same stitch or space. For example, a pattern might say:

(dc, ch 2, dc) in the next ch-2 space

That means you’ll make a double crochet, two chains, and another double crochet, all in the same space.

The second way is to indicate a set of stitches that you’ll need to repeat a specified number of times. The number following the instruction for repeats tells you how many times to repeat the specified set of stitches. For example:

(sc, hdc) 4 times

This means you’ll make a set of a single crochet and a half double crochet four times.

Brackets

Similarly, brackets [ ] can be used to indicate repeats. For example, a pattern might say:

[3dc, ch 2] 3 times

This means you should repeat the set of three double crochets and two chains for a total of 3 times.

Asterisks

Last but not least, asterisks * * can also be used to indicate repeats. For example, a pattern might say:

*2 dc into next sp, ch 1;  rep from * 5 more times.

Translated, that means to make two double crochets into the next space, then chain 1. Then, repeat that group of instructions five more times, for a total of six times.

*
Repeat the instructions following the single asterisk as directed.
* *Repeat instructions between asterisks as many times as directed.
{ }Work instructions within brackets as many times as directed.
[ ]Work instructions within brackets as many times as directed.
( )Work instructions within parentheses as many times as directed or work a group of stitches all in the same stitch or space.

Glossary of Other Useful Terms

We’ve covered a lot of ground so far, but there are still a few more useful terms that you might come across in your crochet journey. Let’s explore these:

Blocking: Blocking is a finishing technique that involves wetting or steaming your finished crochet piece and then shaping it to the correct dimensions as it dries. This can help even out stitches, straighten edges, and help your project achieve its final shape. It’s especially helpful for projects like lace doilies or garments where fit and shape are essential.

Darning: Darning refers to a method of mending holes or worn areas in fabric using needle and thread. In the context of crochet, a darning needle, often called a yarn needle, is a large blunt-ended needle used to sew pieces together or weave in yarn ends.

Finished Object (Fo): This term is a common slang abbreviation used among crafters when talking about their work online.

Frogging: Frogging is a term used in the crochet world to describe the process of ripping out stitches when you’ve made a mistake (think “rip it, rip it,” like a frog’s sound).

Gauge: Gauge is the number of stitches and rows per inch in a crochet or knitting project. It’s important to match the pattern’s gauge to ensure your project turns out the correct size.

Hook Size: Crochet hooks come in various sizes to match the weight of the yarn you’re using. They can be labeled in metric (mm), US, or UK sizes, and it’s essential to use the size recommended in your pattern to achieve the correct gauge.

Tension: Tension refers to how tightly or loosely you hold the yarn while you’re crocheting. Everyone’s tension is a little different, and it can change depending on the type of yarn you’re using. Consistent tension is important for creating even stitches and meeting the pattern’s gauge.

Unfinished Object (UFO): In crochet lingo, a UFO is an ‘UnFinished Object.’ It’s a project that you’ve started but haven’t completed. It’s common to have a few UFOs lying around as you hop from one exciting project to another.

WIP (Work In Progress): WIP stands for ‘Work In Progress.’ This term is often used in online crochet communities to refer to the projects you’re currently working on. It’s not uncommon to have multiple WIPs at once (trust me, I speak from experience!).

Weaving in Ends: Once you’ve finished your crochet project, you’ll usually have at least two loose ends of yarn – one from where you started and one from where you finished. You might also have additional ends if you’ve changed colors or added new balls of yarn during your project. “Weaving in the ends” is the process of using a yarn needle to tuck these loose ends back into your stitches to hide them and secure your work. This is a crucial step to give your project a neat, professional finish.

Yarn Weight: Yarn weight refers to the thickness of the yarn strand. From lace (super thin) to jumbo (super thick), the weight of the yarn can dramatically impact the look and feel of your project.

several bundles of blue and green yarn arranged from thinnest to thickest yarn weight

Common Measurements

Here are some common measurements that you may find in crochet patterns.

” or inin
cmcentimeter
mmeter
mmmilimeter
ozounce
ydyard

Differences in Crochet Terms

As you continue on your crochet journey, you’ll find that there can be inconsistencies in the way crochet terms and abbreviations are used. Different designers, and indeed different countries, can sometimes use different terminology or abbreviations for the same techniques. For instance, what is referred to as a single crochet (sc) in the US is called a double crochet (dc) in the UK.

This can be confusing, especially when you’re just starting out. But don’t worry – most patterns will include a list of abbreviations and terms used, so you’ll know what the designer means. When in doubt, don’t hesitate to reach out to the pattern designer or the crochet community. We’ve all been there!

US and UK Crochet terms

U.S.U.K.
slip stitch (sl st)slip stitch (ss)
single crochet (sc)double crochet (dc)
half double crochet (hdc)half treble (htr)
double crochet (dc)treble (tr)
treble (tr)double treble (dtr)
double treble (dtr)triple treble (trtr)
gaugetension
yarn over (yoyarn over hook (yoh)

Tammi

Friday 27th of October 2023

Hi Crochet pattern states Ssc1 in next stitch, ssc2 in next stitch, ssc3 in next stitch, ssc4 in next stitch,

Not understanding the # after ssc as total # of stitches are not increasing nor decreasing

Can you help me?

Sarah Stearns

Friday 27th of October 2023

Hi Tammi, Are the notes in the introduction to the pattern that explain those abbreviations?

catherine

Tuesday 22nd of August 2023

hi, i reciently ran in to a new term can you tell me what t c c means i am not sure its in a pattern i just bought it has 2 sets of instructions one is sc the 2nd pattern is in tsc no explanation for what it means i would appreciate your help . thankyou catherine

Sarah Stearns

Tuesday 22nd of August 2023

Hi Catherine, My first guess is that tsc means thermal single crochet. Would that make sense with your pattern? Usually patterns define all of thier abbreviations, so you might try to find a list of terms at the start of your pattern.

Meg Nicolson

Monday 22nd of May 2023

Hi Sarah, I would be interested in a workshop on reading crochet patterns if you do get one up and going. As I have aged, learning new skills becomes more difficult for me. Thank you for your cheat sheets they are most helpful.

Meg Nicolson

Lisa

Saturday 20th of May 2023

Thank you so muchhhh. Even though I was aware of some of them...it was very helpful to acquaint myself with a few unknowns. How can I share this for would be crocheters ☺️

Sarah Stearns

Saturday 20th of May 2023

I'm glad it was helpful! Here is the link that you can share: https://sarahmaker.com/crochet-terms/