Help me crochet and knit without patterns
August 19, 2013 2:09 PM   Subscribe

I want to find pattern books that aren't written in pattern shorthand.

I was taught to knit and crochet by my grandmother. She never taught me to read patterns. I really suck at reading patterns and the peculiar shorthand they are written in. I very much want to find books and other resources that can teach/show me a pattern that isn't written pattern shorthand, or uses stitch visualizations. I know stitch names, but I want to read the directions written out, avoiding all shorthand. Finding these things on my own is proving unsuccessful, and sure, I can hit up my local yarn shop, but I thought I would try here first.
Also, I am more interested in crochet than knitting at this time. Thanks folks.
posted by msali to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I don't crochet, so unfortunately can't offer advice on that front, but you might want to check out Elizabeth Zimmermann's knitting books, especially Knitting Workshop and The Knitter's Almanach.
posted by third word on a random page at 2:13 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Have you tried YouTube or do you want books?

I find that watching someone do the stitches is so much easier. Then you can also truly see how it's supposed to look. Crochet Geek seems pretty good, but there are literally millions of crochet videos and tons of channels, so you might find someone whose videos you like best.
posted by Crystalinne at 2:15 PM on August 19, 2013

Does it need to be a book?

Because I bet that you can find plenty of patterns on Ravelry that are written out in their entirety.

(And I feel your pain all too well - while I'm okay with most abbreviations and acronyms, my brain still locks up when I look at a lace or cable chart.)
posted by Katemonkey at 2:32 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

And, oh, okay, sorry, self-promotion and these patterns are pretty rubbish anyway, but I just remembered I write out my patterns without abbreviations.
posted by Katemonkey at 2:40 PM on August 19, 2013

I feel the same way you do about crochet pattern shorthand. When I can't avoid it -- like when there is a pattern I really, really want to make -- I usually end up "translating" all the pattern-speak to plain English. It takes awhile, but it makes the eventual pattern so much nicer for me to work with. Since you know stitch names, this might work for you, too.
posted by fiercecupcake at 2:40 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Have you ever tried knitting lace? Many lace items, like shawls or lace socks, have the pattern given in chart form (a visualization) instead of or sometimes in addition to written in "shorthand". You usually need to read a small amount of shorthand (e.g. the first few "setup rows") but after that can follow just the chart. A good example of this is the Haruni shawl (free pattern).
posted by telegraph at 2:54 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

The search term you're looking for is "written pattern", I think.
Here is a link to all of the written pattern instructions on Ravelry.
posted by estlin at 3:02 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

You mean that you want k2tog explained as knit two stitches together? Google-ing knitting abbreviations will give you definitions with some videos. If you want to see he stitches done, Google-ing knitting instructions will lead you to demonstrations.
posted by Cranberry at 3:04 PM on August 19, 2013

I believe you've got three options in print (as opposed to video instructions, which are kind of tedious to follow along with for anything beyond learning a single stitch or motif, IMO).

1) There are crochet patterns printed with no abbreviations. They're usually aimed at beginners, though, so if you're an experienced crocheter and want to make more complicated things, relying on these may be limiting. Lion Brand's beginner patterns don't seem to use abbreviations, so you could start there. Some of the crochet magazines often do beginner-oriented sections with no abbreviations as well, but I'm not sure which and on what schedule.

2) Stitch diagrams are often available to help interpret written patterns. Crochet Today magazine includes them with most or all its patterns, IIRC, and Robyn Chachula has two Blueprint Crochet books that rely on stitch diagrams heavily. They're also used heavily in non-English crochet patterns, such as for Japanese amigurumi. Lace patterns also use them frequently. They've got their own learning curve due to needing to know what each of the symbols means, though.

3) If you've got the pattern in an electronic format, you can do a search-and-replace on the abbreviations, replacing all instances of "sc" with "single crochet" and so on. This will probably require some tweaking to make sure you're not rendering the pattern unreadable. If you're not comfortable with the heavily-abbreviated assembly language of crochet now, but are open to learning to use it, I would recommend writing out patterns yourself in complete sentences, using instructions like these. Doing it yourself does help it stick with you better than simply looking up each abbreviation as you come to it, and it's not so frustrating to try to translate when you're not trying to crochet at the same time. This may be the best option if you see a specific pattern you'd really like to crochet and it's not available in English or diagram form.

Good luck!
posted by asperity at 3:26 PM on August 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

The other option is no pattern. Japanese knitting and crochet books often have diagrams with measurements and stitch charts, and very short instructions that you can ignore entirely and follow the diagrams only, working out for yourself how many stitches to cast on, increase etc to gt the right measurements.

Barbara Walkers' Knitting From The Top Down has no patterns but explains the processes of deciding how to knit various garments so that you can do your own. I knit a raglan from that and it helped enormously for understanding other patterns, having done one without.

I did the same as suggested above too when I first learned, writing out the full non-abbreviated instructions for patterns. I sometimes still do that for crochet where I'm not sure what's happening in a row. It is tedious but it helped hugely, and the idea of doing a copy+paste for an electronic pattern (ravelry has tons) would be much faster.

Stitch counts also help with fiddly patterns. Good written patterns sometimes include them, or I would go and count and pencil it in so I could check in a changing pattern.
posted by viggorlijah at 5:07 PM on August 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

Knitting In The Old Way has some graphed patterns and descriptions of constructions but no detailed K2tbl yo p2 eor type of stuff. It does require you to do a bit of your own leg work for sizing.

I second Japanese knitting patterns; they're written so that no language skills are required.
posted by tchemgrrl at 6:09 PM on August 19, 2013

Big thumbs up for Japanese patterns, too. Extremely easy once you learn the symbols. There are a few groups on Ravelry dedicated to interpreting Japanese patterns for English speakers if you run into problems.
posted by NoiselessPenguin at 4:58 AM on August 20, 2013

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