Crocheting the Mark

The other day I was going through an old box and I stumbled across some “early to me” crochet. I recall, about the time I was learning to crochet at age 10, at school I received a crocheted bookmark. My teacher had a friend who crocheted and she had created a bookmark with a “curly q”. My teacher gave them as prizes to students that had met her reading goal, I cannot recall exactly what the goal was but I remember the prize.

Curly Q bookmark in use

I remember being in awe of how it was made. Being a new crocheter I had no idea how the twists were created. I used that bookmark for years, and several years later, after becoming more proficient in crochet, figuring out how it was made. I have since recreated this bookmark for teachers of my children. They have used them in much the same way as my teacher years ago, meeting a goal and getting a reward.

I am sharing this stitch pattern for this bookmark in the hopes that you might make a few and share them with teachers or your local library, helping sharing the gift of reading. I know that many think that all books are going digital, but there is something about holding a book and moving your bookmark through the pages that has a gratification that can’t be completely explained.

More of the Curly Q bookmark in use

This is a really loose pattern, I don’t know if I should even all it a pattern, I am basically sharing how I create mine, and none of the stitch counts are really important. The gauge does not matter, it doesn’t matter what yarn or hook your use. To begin you chain anywhere between 6 and 8, slip stitching to the first chain to create a ring. I then chain 1 and place about 12 single crochets in the ring, slip stitch to the beginning single crochet. Now create a chain of about 18” to 24”, then double crochet in the 4th chain from the hook, add 2 more double crochets to the same stitch as the last, work 3 double crochets in each of the next several chains, working until you feel the “curl” you are making is long enough. Finish off, and weave in all ends.

That is all there is to it. The chain section lays in between the pages while the “curly q” can slip through the ring to secure around the book binding. This is a simple scrap project, and one I find fun and fast.

The Touch of Crochet, Reading Stitches

ScannedImageMany people who believe that they can’t read a pattern, really just have a different learning style. This last pattern reading technique I want to discuss is probably the most difficult for most people to grasp, reading stitches. I don’t mean that is too difficult for people to understand, but it is not the most effective way for most people to read a pattern, but there are some that this is a needed style. It reminds me of playing music by ear; you know the melody and are finding the write notes. This is a tactical way of learning, by using your hands and touch, whereas traditionally written patterns are good for oral learners (reading it our loud and it makes perfect sense), and charts are great for visual learners. This doesn’t mean that you only have one learning style, most of use learn effectively from a combination, it is just that tactical instruction is a little less apparent and some people believe they can’t understand a pattern when really they haven’t given themselves permission to realize that they may understand the craft of crochet in a different way than others.

To begin with you won’t really find these patterns in any book, at least not formally. But close up photos lend to assisting in this style. Often this style is worked by directly copying an already completed project.

To read stitches, you have to recognize what your stitches really look like. If you’re like me, you probably never really look at how your stitches. I plug right along and only notice the special stitches like shells or bobbles, but never really pay a lot of attention to a double or single crochet stitch appearance. But there have been times when I have been presented with some old handmade item and asked if I knew the pattern. (Sometimes the item is not crocheted, so I attempt to decipher the creation manner, such as tatting or bobbin lace most often). To recreate this masterpieces, or for those that learn better from this example, you must know what the stitch looks like a know how to recreate it. So let’s take a look at some common stitches.

First you need to identify the top of the work, this can be a little challenging dependent upon the type of work, and you may need to pull out a hook and yarn to see if you can duplicate what you can to determine direction (but once you recognize various stitches you can easily discern the direction, it may take you a little practice).

Chains are usually obvious, but the slip stitch can be a little difficult to locate and recognize without some practice, (as it doesn’t photograph well for me, I recommend you play with some slip stitches and see how they look for yourself.


Right Side Single Crochet


Wrong Side Single Crochet

The Right Side(RS) of a single crochet (sc) row looks like a row of little “v”, while the Wrong Side(WS) look like upside down “v” wearing a flat hat, or maybe even a belt with two little legs.


Right Side Double Crochet


Wrong Side Double Crochet

For the RS of a  double crochet (dc), if you are right handed (left will be opposite)you will see two diagonal bars, one beginning in the upper left of the stitch and  continuing to the right  where it reaches the second diagonal bar that continues in the same direction appearing to wrap around to the back of the post. While the WS has one horizontal bar at the top and one diagonal bar from the upper right, just under the horizontal bar, down to the left ending at the middle of post and appearing to go between the base of the stitch (I love the description Vashti Braha uses for this part of the stitch as “feet” since they appear to be like ballet slippers at point).

This style of pattern reading is one that lends itself well to expanding your creative side, as it gives you a better understanding of stitch construction. Even if this is not the easiest method for you to follow or understand I recommend that you work up some sample and really look at you stitches, it is amazing how improving your techniques at this basic level can really improve the overall appearance of your work, not to mention help you greatly when you are approached with the question; “I love the doily my great-great grandmother made, can you show me how to make one like it?”



The Visual Pattern or Paint by Numbers

ScannedImageAs you probably already know we all have different ways of learning. That is very apparent in the next form of pattern writing I’d like to talk about, called Crochet Charts or Symbols depended upon who you ask. This form of writing will cause you to basically do one of two things either you will scratch you head and feel like you need lessons, or the light will go off and the whole world will make sense (granted you can have a little bit of both too.) The charts make it easy to see what the next step is and how the stitches go together, visually; almost like looking at a close up photo of the item you are crocheting. To me it kind of reminds me of “Paint by Numbers”, except that you methodically work each cell directly to the side of the one you are on, instead of filling in all the “twos”. But you recognize the picture you are painting, and simply following the steps, instead of a written pattern that sometime requires you to work a couple of rows before the pattern repeat makes sense.

This pattern reading option is not always as available as the written versions (as I am writing in North America), but it is gaining in popularity and opening up options for crocheters to use foreign patterns as well, since the charts are pretty much universal. The new found availability of these charts is also reflective of the use of illustration software by designers and publishers, as drawing the symbols by hand can often be more labor intensive then writing six pages of pattern. On the other hand, one graphic can show six pages of pattern in one that small space.

Like traditional written patterns you need to understand the abbreviations. This simply is knowing what the symbol represents. Samples of the most common symbols are below, as found on the Craft Yarn Council website:


The chart will usually indicate the starting point, and many change colors for the rows, making the pattern even more recognizable (and in some instances a piece of art unto itself). A small sample of what a piece might look like is this:

T=dc, x=sc, 0=chain, .=beginning

0 T T  x x x x T T T

0x x x  T T T T x x x

.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

This is read from the bottom left (at the period) across to the right, (as I don’t have any fancy software, bear with me here), traditionally you would see three ovals stacked on top of each other to the beginning of the second row (so imaging one between the two already there), and works across to the left. If you are left handed, you simply flip the graphic in the mirror direction and every row will work in the direction you are working.

If this was written out it would appear as:

Row 1: Ch 11, sc in second ch from hook, sc in next 2 ch, dc in next 4 ch, sc in next 3 ch, turn,

Ro w2 Ch 3, dc in next two sc sts, sc in next 4 dc sts, dc in next 3 sc sts.

To keep you place in a pattern like this, you may want a highlighter, or marker of some sort, to physically mark the pattern, or get creative with some office supplies and see what might work for you. Another thing to note about this pattern method is that often the entire pattern is not there; meaning that you are given the graph for the main portion of the repeat of the pattern and not the entire thing. This is one reason that it is most commonly used of motifs, since it is usually a few rows and you can see the entire square, where as is it was a pattern for a sweater it would be more involved with many rows of repeat for only subtle changes at shaping points (not to mention it would be difficult to write multiple sizes into one chart). But charting can be seen as an edging, and it will show you the repeat of the pattern. To successfully complete this you need to do only a little math, and that is only for the number of times that you need to repeat the pattern charted before you to fit desired area.

This is a very favorable pattern to read if you are very visual, to see some beautiful charts simply enter “crochet charts” in any search engine on the internet and find charts that you might even want to frame. It is also another form of pattern writing that you can easily master and might even enjoy if you give it the opportunity. However if this style still doesn’t suit your taste there is yet another method to discuss, more about that next time.



Read the Pattern or Recipes and Patterns One in the Same

ScannedImageOne of the statements I find many crocheters stating is that they do not know how to read a pattern. This isn’t surprising, nor is it uncommon. Many of us learned the stitches and techniques from friends or family members (and honestly, descriptions of crocheting can be difficult to write). It is a visual skill; those that are self taught probably used photos and maybe even videos; describing where to place a hook into a stitch without a visual cue could be quite daunting.

I’m hoping to add a little clarity in the world of reading patterns over the next couple of posts, beginning today with the most common; standard written.


The similarities are uncanny.

Standard written patterns are similar to cookbook recipes; the ingredients are listed out and then there is a paragraph giving you step by step directions on how to complete the dish. Patterns give you the materials needed and step by step directions to complete the project. Major difference, you probably learned to cook at the hip of someone else so you learned all the abbreviations and basic skills like sauté and chop while they showed you how to do it. Crochet is a little slower process and no one is probably how to decease then chain and skip a stitch while you were in the process of completing a pattern.

So where to start. First don’t expect that just because you know all the stitches that reading a pattern should come easy, it is like knowing all the basic cooking skills and now reading a pattern to make a soufflé; take baby steps. First we need to understand the abbreviations, almost every crochet magazine and book and even good patterns will have a list of all the abbreviations and what they mean (note: this will also include special stitches and techniques), and many will even have a tutorial or photo to demonstrate the stitch to assist you further. The most common abbreviations are:

ch- chain

dc- double crochet

rep- repeat

sc- single crochet

sk- skip

sl st- slip stitch

st(s)- stitch(es)

yo- yarn over hook

Note: This post is written in American crochet, short hand for other countries may (and often does) differ.


I sometimes use a wooden ruler to keep my place, but a nice sticky note works well too!

So now it is a step by step process of going line by line over the directions. This can seem daunting and slow, especially since if you’re like me crochet is something to relax you, but typically you can see the pattern in the stitches in the first couple of rows and you then use the pattern as a reference when you get to places that have some change. To make it a little less overwhelming (and assist in keeping your place), I have met several people that use highlighters when they complete a row, or place a check mark by the row, or others that use a sticky note just below the row they are on and move it down as they progress in the pattern.

Even if this doesn’t aide in your approach to patterns, not to fret, there are other ways to address reading patterns and we’ll get into some more of that next time……