Monday, April 1, 2013

How to Read Amigurumi Patterns

I used to work with a woman who was a very skilled crocheter- she made embellished girl's socks with crocheted cuffs, kitchen towels, scarves, etc, but she always said, "I can't read patterns!" I'm here to tell you that reading patterns is very easy, once you take a few moments to decipher crochet pattern terms.

Basically, all crochet patterns have shorthand that attempt to explain how to make a finished piece. Unfortunately, some patterns are better-written than others.

I'm going to walk you through one of my free patterns, explain what all the terms mean, and hopefully, by the end, you will have a better understanding of patterns!

Let's start by going over the materials list, stitches and techniques. Most patterns will provide this information before you purchase the pattern- it's important to know what you need to make the piece and if it's beyond your skill level.

Most of my patterns are beginner or beginner-intermediate level, using mainly single crochet stitches and whipstitching to finish the piece. Basically, great for beginners!

This is what my materials list and stitches and techniques look like on all my patterns (obviously, they are unique to each pattern, but this is what you can expect). For more of my thoughts on materials you need to get started in amigurumi, read this.

I spell out what abbreviations are going to be used in the pattern- think of this as a key on a map. Every time you see "sc" you will know it means to single crochet. You know how to single crochet, right? (If not, here's a link to a youtube video- not mine, really good!)

Now, let's take a look at what the actual pattern looks like:

We'll go through the first few rounds together and break down what each means.

Rnd (Round) 1: 
Make magic ring (mr), 6 sc in ring (6 sts).
Okay, deep breath, this is easy, you can do this. If you haven't mastered the magic ring yet, I'd encourage you to keep trying- it creates a really nice beginning to your amigurumi pieces that you just can't get with a [ch 2, 6 sc in 2nd ch from hook] start. Here's a great video (again, not mine) about the magic ring.

6 sc in ring: All this means is you make 6 single crochets in your ring. Most amigurumis are worked in circles, so the next round will start in the top of your first stitch of this round.

(6 sts) tells you how many stitches there are in this particular round. This becomes more important when you start adding and subtracting stitches- helps you keep track and make sure you're doing the pattern correctly.

I have a note in my pattern to move the marker at the start of each new round- basically, you take the marker out of the stitch you were marking, make your stitch to start the next round, and put the marker into that stitch. Stitch markers are essential for amigurumi!!

(Sidenote: I HATE patterns that do not tell you where to make your increases/decreases or how many stitches are in each round. I bought the pattern because I wanted somebody to tell me how to do it, not to have to sit down and figure it out before I make it. Urgh!)

Rnd 2:
2 sc in each st around (12 sts). All this means is you work 2 single crochets into each stitch of round 1. This is an increase round. You will have 12 stitches at the end of this round. You can even count them if you don't believe me!

Rnd 3: 
*2 sc in next st, sc in next st; rep from * around (18 sts). Okay, deep breath. This looks like a lot going on, but if you read it out loud, it's not all that complicated.

The * means there is a series of steps to be followed. So... you are going to make 2 single crochet in the next stitch, just like you did in round 2. Then, in the next stitch, you are going to make only one single crochet. You will repeat this pattern of 2 single crochets, then 1 single crochet for the entire round. At the end of the round, you will have 18 stitches. See, easy!

Rnd 4:
*2 sc in next st, sc in next 2 sts; rep from * around (24 sts). This is just like round 3, except that you will be working 2 single crochets in your first stitch of the round, then single crocheting in the next 2 stitches. Is the pattern starting to make sense to you?

Let's skip ahead to Round 16.

Rnd 16: *Invdc over next 2 sts; sc in next 3 sts; rep from * around (24 sts). The invisible decrease is a pretty easy stitch to master, and it makes a very clean/invisible decrease between two stitches. (Here's a video showing how to do it...not mine, again!) The invisible decrease uses 2 stitches, so that's why it says "invdc over next 2 sts." Then, you single crochet in the next 3 stitches before you repeat the decrease.

You will decrease the number of stitches in your round by 6 (according to this pattern- sometimes it's more, sometimes less- that's why it's important to know how many stitches you will have at the end of the round!!).

And that, in a nutshell, is how to read a crochet pattern. Don't let yourself get overwhelmed by complicated terminology or abbreviations. There are really only a handful of crochet stitches in the world, and how they get combined is what creates a pattern. Just break it down into it's individual components. And don't be afraid to email your pattern writer if something doesn't make sense or if you notice a mistake. I'm not perfect, and occasionally there is a typo in a pattern, believe it or not. (gasp!!)