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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Technical Thursday: Hints on reading a pattern

Hello hookers!

Hopefully we're all warming back up by the time this posts, it's really cold today!(Yes, I try to get this written a bit a head of time ;) )

Today, I thought we'd go over some basics and helpful hints on how to read a print pattern. Some people can watch videos and do it, I'm not one of them. I have trouble with charted patterns, but I can, and do, read printed patterns on a daily basis.

So today, we'll be using a pattern by Crochet by Jennifer called Adult Chunky Slippers- download the entire pattern here, on ravelry.com. Visit Jen at http://www.crochetbyjennifer.com to see all of her most awesome patterns.

First, you need to decide if you want to try a pattern. Look at the difficulty level(easy). Do you have the suggested hook size(K), and the suggested yarn(Bulky, or 2 strands of worsted weight)? And then, what crochet language is it in? I can't tell you the amount of times patterns are abandoned and disparaged because someone used their US terminology to try and make a UK terminology pattern. If it's not listed on the pattern or the pattern hosting site(Jen writes in US terms), then you may have to do a little sleuthing- if they're based in the US or Canada, it's most likely US terms, if it's UK or Australia, then it's usually UK terms. But don't assume. You can also determine the terminology by looking at stitch definitions. 

So, while we're looking at the beginning of the pattern, you should read through all abbreviations, and a special stitch section(if there is one). If you know how to do everything on the list in a competent manner, then you can start working on the pattern. If there's something that appears difficult, you should go find a tutorial of your choosing(in the same terminology!) and review the methodology before you begin. 

Designers use different abbreviations by their own preferences, and the language is always evolving. 20 years ago, a MC meant "Main Color". Nowadays, it usually means magic circle (I've got a picture tutorial here). 

Jen's definitions are as follows:
Abbreviations Used:
st or sts - stitch or stitches
ch - chain stitch
dc - double crochet
fpdc - front post double crochet
bpdc - back post double crochet
sl st - slip stitch
rnd(s) - round(s)
sp - space
ea - each
beg - beginning
prev - previous
YO - Yarn Over

Pretty basic, right? The only ones that might be difficult are the front and back post dcs, so then we look down a little more and find the special stitch definitions- Jen's an awesome designer, so she provides links to tutorials:
Special Stitches Definitions:
Front Post Double Crochet (fpdc): Working from the front, YO and insert the hook from right to left
under the post of the double crochet indicated from the previous round. YO and complete the stitch as a
double crochet.
Back Post Double Crochet (bpdc): Working from the back, YO and insert the hook from right to left
over the post of the double crochet indicated from the previous round. YO and complete the stitch as a
double crochet.
FPDC and BPDC Video: You can find a great video for learning fpdc and bpdc here: http://
Magic Ring: You can find directions for the “magic ring” here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?
v=FHYVutk2iYY. You do not have to use this method; alternate directions are also given.
Invisible Join: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsHggQGFq3A

So we've read all definitions, we know the stitches, now to start. Since we're making slippers for an adult, there are large size charts included in the pattern. I won't copy/paste those charts, but they're not hard to read. For our purposes, I'll be making a woman's wide width, size 8.5 (US sizes). So I'll find it on the woman's size chart and know that the slipper measurement from heel to ankle is 7 inches for all widths. Then I'll chose my width using the following directions:

How to choose the width:
Three different widths are given for this pattern. Most sizes will fit into regular width because
there is a lot of stretch to these slippers. However, directions for “wide” width are given, as well
as extra-wide. Men with larger shoe sizes should use the wide width. Only extremely wide
widths (EE or wider, up to EEEE) should use the extra-wide width, it is very large!
Select width and go to that section, after rnd 5, all sizes will continue on to Part 2.
Regular width: 10-11” circumference, start on page 4.
Wide width: 11-12” circumference, start on page 5.
Extra-wide width: 12-13” circumference, start on page 6.
*Note: circumference of slipper is measured on the outside, inside measurement is much smaller.

So I'll then scroll down to page 5. As I start reading, I see:
Select a size from either the first or second column of the chart (menʼs or womenʼs), this
will tell you which measurement to use from the third column after rnd 5.
Note: ʻch 2ʼ is counted in stitch count until otherwise noted. When pattern says “dc in
very next available st”, make the dc in the top of the same post that was just used for
the fpdc.
Remember, I'm making an 8.5, so I know the measurement to use is 7".

So I've got my K hook, and my 2 strands of teal worsted weight yarn.
Now, we go back to our basic order of operations. Much like math class, you do things in order. Having completed round one, I've got 12 DCs in a circle, and am ready for round 2:

Rnd 2: ch 2, [fpdc around st directly below, dc in very next available st] to end of rnd,
beg ʻch 2ʼ counts as last dc, join with sl st in top of ʻch 2ʼ. (24)

So I chain 2. Now there are brackets. The brackets tell me I should complete every instruction inside of them before trying anything else. These brackets can be interchangeable with parenthesis ( ) as well, depending on designer. So it's telling me to FPDC, then DC in the top of it, to the end of round. Going back to our lesson on making things in the round, we're putting 2 stitches into 1, 12 times. 12 x 2 is 24. So before moving onto round 3, we're going to count them. With this particular pattern, we're going to have 12 ridges, and 12 "valleys" alternating. If you've got 2 ridges side by side with no vally between them, then you need to redo round 2.

Although not every designer puts a stitch count at the end of their rows/rounds, while you're learning, it's always better to do the math yourself if not provided and COUNT EACH STITCH on EVERY ROW/ROUND. This prevents the dreaded ripping out(frog- rip it, rip it) to the beginning of the pattern. 

So we've got round 2 complete, and there are 24 stitches(12 valleys and 12 ridges). Time for round 3:

Rnd 3: ch 2, [fpdc around next 3 sts, dc in very next available st] to end of rnd, last st
will be around ʻch 2 from prev rnd, beg ʻch 2ʼ counts as last dc, join with sl st in top of ʻch
2ʼ. (32)

And, repeat. Ch 2. Do the brackets. Read the entire line of instructions before beginning the round, and count your stitches. The pattern has changed now, so it'll be 3 ridges, and a valley. 24 ridges, 8 valleys= 32 stitches.

Now we get a gauge check:
Gauge check: Diameter of circle should measure approximately 3.75 to 4.25” here.

So we pull out our handy dandy measuring device and lay it across the entire circle. Center it, and see if you hit gauge. If you didn't, you need to fix it. Frog it all and start over- change one thing: hook size, or tension. Some designers like you to swatch it out before beginning, then make sure you keep your tension exact as you work, while some build it into the pattern like Jen has.

And hey, you're doing it- you're reading the pattern! Now keep going. With our slippers, we're going to work round 4 once, and move on to 5. After you finish your first rnd 5, it says:

Repeat rnd 5 until length reaches measurement in 3rd column of either menʼs or
womenʼs chart. Continue on to part 2.
Notes on final length of slipper: The total FINAL length should be either the same as
the measurement of the foot, or smaller. These slippers will stretch a LOT once they
are worn, do not make them longer than the actual foot measurement or they will end
up too big!

Remember that 7" from earlier? This is where it comes into play. I'm going to repeat rnd 5 until I can measure 7" from the start to the row I just worked. Your slipper is now vaguely torpedo shaped ;)

So now we continue on to part 2, or page 7 if you printed:

Hey, there's something bold- better read it!
Note: This next section is now worked in ROWS instead of RNDS. When pattern says
“dc in very next available st”, make the dc in the top of the same post that was just used
for the fpdc. Use the number color-coded for the size you are making.

This means that instead of crocheting the entire way around, we'll stop at a certain place and turn our work. I'm doing a wide width, remember, so I'm using the pink color coding. It's not going to show up on this blog, that's why you went and got the pattern yourself ;)

Row 1: ch 2, dc in same st as ch 2, fpdc around next (22, 26, 30) post sts from prev
rnd, dc in very next available st, leave remaining 6 fpdc unworked. (22, 26, 30 fpdc plus
the ch 2 and 2 dc)

So with Jen's pattern, the parenthesis means it's a stitch count- and they're color coded for easy use, I'm using pink, which is 26. If you're doing a regular width, you'd use the yellow 22, and for an extra wide, the blue 30. So as we work the row, you follow the instruction and repeat as many times as it says in the parenthesis. So a ch 2, dc in same stitch, then 26 FPDCs, and a final dc for a total of 29 stitches.

At this point, you can complete the pattern. Just take it slow and follow the instructions as presented. I hope this helps you gain the confidence and knowledge that you can read a written pattern, and don't hesitate to ask if you need a little clarification. You can do it. Takes practice, just like all other aspects of crochet ;)

You can doooo eeeeetttttttt! :D

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