Monday, November 26, 2007

How to Read a Japanese Crochet Pattern


In a recent post I mentioned how I tried a japanese crochet pattern for the first time. It took a little bit of time for me to figure it out, but I did it! In case anyone's interested, I wanted to share my experience with other new japanese crochet pattern chart users :)

First things first, I should mention that I'm not an expert in japanese crochet patterns, and I'm not an expert crochet-er either! I learned to crochet from my grandmother when I was very little, and then recently picked it up again. I would say I'm at a novice/intermediate level. But if you have any questions or comments I will try my best to help. I welcome any corrections or tips too (just tell me in a nice way so you don't hurt my feelings! LOL)

Until I discovered Japanese craft books, I've always seen crochet patterns written out, like this:

Rnd 1 Chain 2, work 7 sc in 2nd ch from hook, sl st in first sc to join.
Rnd 2 Ch 1, 2 sc in ea sc around, sl st in first sc to join.


I've always had a hard time following those traditional (non-charted) crochet patterns. One reason is because every time I look away from the book to look at the stitch I'm making, I lose my place.

Japanese craft books use international chart patterns, which look like the picture at the top left of this post.

I've always been a visual learner. For me, what's great about chart patterns is that if I lose my place, I can look at my stitches and compare it to the diagram to figure out where I am. So much easier (for me anyway!). Are you ready to get started? Let's go!

The hat pattern I'm going to use in my example is the picture at the top of this post. (The second picture is what the finished project would look like!)

SYMBOLS

The first thing I recommend is familiarize yourself with the different symbols in the japanese crochet pattern and what stitch each symbol represents. I found the Haas Design website was very help -- it has a stitch legend, instructions and even video clips for basic crochet stitches. Here are a few basic stitches (just visit Haas Design to view the full chart):



ROUND 1

This is a circular pattern, so we need to work our way from the center starting with the first round:



Each symbol is a stitch. Starting from the symbol in the center (circled in red) go in the direction of the blue arrows:



The symbol in the middle is basically saying create 2 loops. Here's a 3-step illustration of how to create the 2 loops and then how to start the first stitch after you create the loop:
(I've also recorded a short video clip demonstrating this. I'm having problems posting the video right now, but once I get it posted I will link to it from here!)




After you make those 2 loops you would chain 4, then [2 dc in the ring, ch 1] 5 times, dc, then join the circle with a slip stitch to the 3rd chain of the beginning chain 4:



ROUND 2

After you make that slip stitch to join the round you are now ready to start Round 2. Remember, follow the pattern going counter-clockwise!



You probably got the hang of this already, but just humor me :) Let's read the pattern together -- Round 2 would go something like this:

chain 3, dc, [2 dc, ch 1] 11 times, slip stitch to the 3rd chain of the chain 3 that started round 2

That's basically it. Now you just keep following the pattern round by round until you finish. And your completed hat would look something like this (but probably better!):



After writing this post, I realize I'm not a technical writer. But still, I hope what I wrote made sense and that the diagrams and screenshots were helpful! If you decide to give it a try, the pattern I used in my example is from this book (ISBN 978-4-02-190419-6):



Would love to see pictures of your finished hat!

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85 Comments:

At 12/27/2007 11:31 AM, Blogger Paula said...

WHAT A BLESSING TO FIND THIS!!! Thank you SO MUCH! I was curious if you had gotten the video up of how to make the two loops? I tried by following the pictures, but something is not happening right because it just pulls right through. THANKS again!!! :D

 
At 12/28/2007 10:20 AM, Blogger purlyshells said...

Hi Paula, I'm glad you found this useful :) I haven't tried uploading the video again since I wrote this post. I did find a good article that explains how to make the adjustable ring you were having problems with. I hope that helps!

 
At 2/12/2008 3:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so glad that you put this up. I'm new to Japanese style patterns and finding this helped so much. Thanks!!

 
At 3/14/2008 7:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi paula : i'm sumaia from doha qatar , i used to use the japanees patterns from 10 year ago , i found that they used the patterns in drweing , cos i'm deppending on my eyes all the time i found the drqwing is too good and easy for me , so i've got more than 30 books of japanees crochet patterns .

 
At 6/04/2008 5:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi I love the international charted pattern, can't understand the english was, give me a pattern and I can do anything, ebay sell some japanese books . There are a few book in english and magic crochet was a wonderful magazine at one time. Practice make perfect and it will all fall into place

 
At 6/24/2008 8:27 AM, Blogger Agustina said...

Thanks Paula, I've been all day looking for this kind of explanation. I love japanese crochet, but I could'nt find out how to start. You gave me hope ;)
Best regards from Argentina, Agustina

 
At 6/24/2008 10:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been looking at my Japanese patterns for a while, but haven't made anything yet. I wonder of the center symbol for "make two loops" is the same as making a "magic ring" (see http://www.crochetme.com/Dec_Jan_0405/reads_round.html for a tutorial on how to make the magic ring, which is pretty much started on two loops.

 
At 7/28/2008 12:37 AM, Anonymous Monique said...

Hi!

You did such a great job writing this blog thank you for taking the time to show us. I did the hat today and I'm ok with how it came out, however there is always room for improvement. I was wondering what kind of yarn you used and what size hook.

Thank you so much!

 
At 8/06/2008 6:41 PM, Blogger My 1st Bambina ! said...

Ohhh... I Thank You sooo much for this explanation !!! I've being trying to figure out this, with not much progress. I think I got it and I am bookmarking this post for future reference. Thanks for taking the time to put this together and share it with the world !

 
At 8/06/2008 6:52 PM, Blogger purlyshells said...

monique, thanks for the note. I'm glad you were able to make the hat! It's been a long time but if I remember correctly yarn I used was "Vanna's Choice" and I think I just used the hook specified on the wrapper (J-10).

myfirstbambina, you're so welcome! I hope you find the tutorial useful.

 
At 8/20/2008 9:27 PM, Anonymous Patty said...

Thanks for explaining this! I must have the same book series as you, because they are the same illustrations. I just wanted to add one thing: for this particular adjustable ring, they show (in the next diagram after these) that you are to pull one string tight before you pull the loose end closed. Otherwise, you get a loose loop hanging loopily... I hope this helps somebody! :-)

 
At 9/22/2008 4:50 PM, Blogger Dana said...

great job you did! :) thank you for posting the tutorial. DAna

 
At 9/22/2008 5:19 PM, Blogger purlyshells said...

patty, thanks for the explanation -- that does help!

dana, thanks so much I'm glad you liked the tutorial :)

 
At 10/25/2008 8:52 PM, Anonymous jane Connelly said...

Thank you so much for writing such a helpful and thorough article. I recently moved to Japan, and the library is full of wonderful crochet books...but of course they all use charts, which I'm not used to as an American. Now that you've explained it, it seems so easy. I can't wait to dive into a huge stack of books!! You are wonderful!

 
At 10/25/2008 10:23 PM, Blogger purlyshells said...

Hi Jane, thanks for your note. You are welcome! I'm glad that you found my tutorial helpful. There is a small book store near me called Kinokuniya where I can buy japanese crochet and other craft books. How nice that you can just go to the library and check out as many japanese crochet books you want!

-Buffy

 
At 11/22/2008 8:46 PM, Anonymous Ashwini said...

Hi... Thanks for the post, its been really helpful for me... I have some amigurumi patterns and found them to have an entirely different pattern style than the one mentoned in your post.... The link mentioned here tells u how to read a japanese amigurumi pattern with an example... enjoyyy..
http://www5a.biglobe.ne.jp/~mite/diagram/crochetedCat.html

 
At 11/24/2008 3:56 PM, Anonymous Lisa said...

Thanks so much for sharing this! My friend just got me some magic scrubber books from Japan and so excited to try it out. Funny, I never tried crocheting by chart!

Ok, I had followed you until round 2 and I'm wondering if maybe it was just a typo. Now, you wrote

"chain 3, dc, [2 dc, ch 1] 11 times, slip stitch to the 3rd chain of the chain 3 that started round 2"

but if I'm following correctly, shouldn't it be "chain 3, dc (ch1, 2 dc) 11 times..."

Is that right? Thank you again so much for sharing!

 
At 11/24/2008 5:32 PM, Blogger purlyshells said...

Hi Lisa, you're so welcome. Thanks for following along.

I just realized I missed one 'ch1' when I wrote it out. It should be:
"chain 3, dc, ch1, [2 dc, ch 1] 11 times, slip stitch to the 3rd chain of the chain 3 that started round 2"

What you have is also right but you would just need to add a ch1 after the last dc.

But I think you have the gist of it :)

 
At 11/26/2008 6:37 AM, Anonymous Lisa said...

ahh, that makes sense! I just wrote out all the stitches for each symbol and except for about 2 of them that I couldn't figure out, I should be good to go! ;-)

Thank you again!

 
At 12/17/2008 6:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been looking for some Japanese crochet patterns to crochet,as I can follow the pictures better than I can read a pattern...this was very nice to find...I had some crochet books I had purchased while over in Guam, however my sister will not give them back to me...are you able to tell me where to find books?

 
At 2/06/2009 9:15 PM, Anonymous Honduras said...

to see pictures and explanations now everything looks so easy! Thanx for that!! I try to make the hat, but I have problems with the size, because what I get it´s so small :( what can be the problem ? regards!

 
At 2/19/2009 4:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

where can i order this book

 
At 3/31/2009 6:22 PM, Blogger YUZIE AMIR said...

Thank u so much..u'r blog really help..i've just bought a few book of japanese crochet..i also find out it very easy to follow.
hope u can post more your crochet project.i love to see it.

 
At 5/13/2009 1:42 PM, Blogger janet said...

Thank you so much for your wonderful description and instructions as to how to follow a japanese crochet pattern. I have just discovered these lovely patterns but have not know quite how to proceed. I am thrilled!
Janet

 
At 7/29/2009 1:32 PM, Blogger darlly said...

alas I found someone who has taken the time to translate all those charts & symbols- thank you so much- I have a decent chance now!

 
At 7/30/2009 9:05 AM, Blogger Carlien said...

Thanks so much! This is really helpful. You are a star!

 
At 7/30/2009 9:05 AM, Blogger Carlien said...

Thanks so much! This is really helpful. You are a star!

 
At 8/19/2009 10:25 AM, Blogger nima said...

thank you so much for sharing this idea

 
At 9/02/2009 12:10 AM, Blogger Jinky said...

hi,too have several japs/chinese magazine full of crochet and knitting patterns, and my question is, how would I know what yarn to use or if it's a thread?
I have this bolero I want to make, and not sure if material used is thread or yarn...
can you tell where I can find some translation on this one,I look for some and found a few, but when I tried to compare, the writings are just different.
Hope you can help me. Thanks!

 
At 9/02/2009 12:10 AM, Blogger Jinky said...

hi,too have several japs/chinese magazine full of crochet and knitting patterns, and my question is, how would I know what yarn to use or if it's a thread?
I have this bolero I want to make, and not sure if material used is thread or yarn...
can you tell where I can find some translation on this one,I look for some and found a few, but when I tried to compare, the writings are just different.
Hope you can help me. Thanks!

 
At 10/07/2009 11:52 PM, Anonymous Toruu said...

OH GAWD I LOVE YOU!!!!! You are my saviour, I've been trying to figure out how to read these things for ages. There are loads of books on ebay which I want but could never get because I didn't know this!

 
At 1/23/2010 11:37 PM, Anonymous Tarana said...

I am looking for Japanese books.They are hard to find in US.
1. Does anyone know of a Japanese Website that I can download patterns?
2. What should I search for in Google?
I don't read Japanese but can follow the charts well.

 
At 1/26/2010 11:16 AM, Blogger Shesky Rose said...

Thank you for posting this!!! It's a help just knowing I'm not the only one who likes Japanese crochet but doesn't totally understand it --- Yet! But I am well on my way now, thanks to you!

 
At 3/04/2010 1:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi guys,

I know this might be a bit off topic but seeing that a bunch of you own websites, where would the best place be to host. Someone recommended I use [url=http://bit.ly/aTAtZb]Blue Host[//url] for $6.95 a month which seems like a great deal. Anyone here on www.blogger.com using them?

 
At 3/11/2010 10:16 AM, Blogger jayashree venkat said...

Thanks so much for the article.Me too have been following Ondori books since 1982, for patterns and its easier to follow the illustration than the write up.Nice to be in your blog.

 
At 4/01/2010 7:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi all

I figured it would be a good idea to introduce myself to everyone!

Can't wait to start some good conversations!

-Marshall

Thanks again!

 
At 4/11/2010 6:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey


great forum lots of lovely people just what i need


hopefully this is just what im looking for looks like i have a lot to read.

 
At 5/28/2010 6:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Purly Shells,
thanks so much for this tutorial - it was really helpful. One question though, about the start of the pattern, ie the magic ring. Do you know, if the character わ is omitted, is it still a magic ring? thanks again!!

 
At 7/04/2010 10:46 AM, Blogger Judi Watson said...

I too found Japanses Crochet
why can't we get these beautiful book printed in English?
I started with the flower motifs and I am loving the mystery of the key in the back and the pattern.
happy crocheting

 
At 9/09/2010 5:57 AM, Blogger Sheene said...

thanks for sharing! really a great help! im beginning a dress for my baby and the pattern is in charts and in Japanese! hehe thanks so much!

 
At 9/28/2010 9:02 AM, Blogger Tania said...

Just a little question, is this an adult size hat? Because I want to make one for my mother, but I'm not certain about gauge... This is immensely helpful though, thank you!

 
At 11/10/2010 8:35 AM, Blogger Sia said...

thanks for writing this up! i love japanese crochet patterns too. i'm writing up a post and will list your link as a great step-by-step example of how to start.
http://siatex.blogspot.com/

 
At 11/12/2010 11:28 PM, Anonymous rhr-ozgrkdn said...

Thank you for sharing,I worked for me too..

 
At 11/16/2010 11:56 PM, Blogger 42 said...

Hi Purly,
I am so thankful I found you! :) You are a blessing to my handmade handcraft life. Hope you do not mind a little bit of history here:
I used to love the written one, until my mom in law told me the set backs in having the written format. (language proficiency, human error, etc) But, I never dare to give it a try for the fear of not understanding japanese nor mandarin. Now that I found all these great websites,.... allelujah!!!! Thank you. Diagram format made crafter's life so much easier. Tribute to the Japanese, truly.

 
At 11/16/2010 11:57 PM, Blogger 42 said...

Awesome work on your blog. I love how you took time to reply to everyone. Enjoy your blog so much

 
At 11/28/2010 6:57 AM, Blogger nima said...

wow..thank you for sharing this...

 
At 11/28/2010 9:07 PM, Blogger uma srinivasan said...

Thank you so much for sharing this article.It is really helpful to me,Iam the beginner of crochet.

 
At 2/07/2011 9:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say you are a GOD for posting the link to the symbol chart. It's been months of me trying to figure out how to read these things and you help out a lot. Thank you sooooooooooooo much!!

 
At 4/26/2011 1:15 AM, Blogger citysuz said...

hi if there are a few of you looking for free japanese patterns why dont you join facebook at www.facebook.com once joined put into search japanese patterns and a group will come up where there are 100s of free pattern books and a link to get them to download i love the group they have lots of people that have joined plz look for me iam suz beddoes of newport south wales uk have fun all xxx

 
At 6/12/2011 11:31 PM, Anonymous Mizubi said...

THANKYOUUUU SOOOOO MUCH! for this! :D I was really dizzy when I looked at the pattern(circle).Oh by the way, We didn't get the same book but almost the same!! I have ISBN978-4-8347-2679-4. I really don't understand any words written inside the book! HAHAHA! My mom really wants me to make one of those stuffs,that is why she bought me the book! even though we don't understand Japanese.HAHAHA! soo thankyouuu! :P

 
At 6/15/2011 3:41 AM, Anonymous Thuy Duong said...

Thank you so much! I believe you were absolutely successful in guiding us to read japanese charts. Now I think I can start some beautiful projects. Thank you very much. It's was very useful and easy to go up with:)

 
At 6/20/2011 8:35 PM, Blogger holly b said...

thanks for posting this
any idea where i can find free japanese patterns that are in chart form?
i'm also very visual and like the charts way more than the written english directions
:)

 
At 6/24/2011 7:10 PM, Blogger Patsy said...

I have some of these patterns, I dont find them so easy to follow.
Im trying to do a butterfly now that every time i get to row 4 i get stumped.I dont know of any one that can read the patterns or I would show it to them to get help.

 
At 6/25/2011 6:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot. What you wrote makes a lot of sense. I am trying to crochet a sleeveless vest from Ravelry.com but it has a Japanese diagram and i couldn't make out head or tail until i read your post. Will try it now. Thanks.

 
At 7/11/2011 6:02 AM, Blogger Catie said...

This is such a fabulous tutorial!! I will be linking to this to help show people how to read a diagram in the round. Great job! And thank you, thank you!!

~Catie

 
At 7/26/2011 1:19 PM, Blogger Rose and Notes said...

this is a great blog..thanks for posting..this is very helpful.. now i can buy a japanese crochet pattern.. i've always wanted to buy one coz the finished project are really cute but i could not decide coz i could not read the pattern..thank you so much for this very detailed and easy to follow steps

 
At 9/04/2011 4:34 PM, Blogger Mary said...

I am so glad you still have this up. Found a Japanese pattern that I fell in love with, and now I feel like I can start tackling it! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

 
At 1/04/2012 9:55 AM, Blogger Lee Ann said...

Thank you for your blog post concerning this. I have several Japanese books and this will help a lot. :)


_______
Lee Ann

My new blog: Crochetgottaloveit
*********
My website: Crochet...Gotta Love It!

 
At 1/04/2012 11:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

great translation for the newbies :) love working with graphs :) so much more fun than reading all the words :)

 
At 1/04/2012 3:48 PM, Blogger etessam said...

Wow , Thanks for sharing but how about to it as a video ? it will be more illustrative and stick in mind

 
At 1/04/2012 3:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow , Thanks for sharing but how about to it as a video ? it will be more illustrative and stick in mind

 
At 1/07/2012 4:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank u so much, this has been very helpful

http://blmn.wordpress.com

 
At 1/08/2012 7:30 PM, Blogger Kindred Cottage said...

hey look at you STILL getting comments and thank you's and its now 2012!!! thank you for posting this short and sweet tutorial--it all helped tremendously to just give me that push to try that i was putting off! LOL just think its neat that youre still getting comments 5 years later!

you done good girl!!!
:-)

 
At 1/15/2012 8:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much ...as everyone else I am so grateful to you for posting this ...now off to see if I can make something from one of the Japanese picture patterns :)

 
At 1/15/2012 10:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are an Angel!! The pattern i wanted to make was a japanese chart. I had no idea where to even start. Thank you sooooooo much!

 
At 1/26/2012 8:32 AM, Anonymous Shirley from Funchkins said...

Hi there, thank you so much for doing this tutorial. My mom prefers to read charted patterns but doesn't speak Japanese, so all the Japanese patterns I was getting her were a bit frustrating. But with your tute, there is going to be no stopping her.

 
At 1/28/2012 7:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been crocheting since I was 11 and I already knew how to read japanese patterns because they are just like patterns in spanish. But I was glad to find out that you can oreder the books from Japan!!! I'm so doing that.

 
At 1/29/2012 9:36 AM, Blogger Marysia Carroll said...

I just found this through Google. Very useful! Thank you. I'm now going to have a go at a Japanese pattern because they make the prettiest things :-)
There are some lovely free patterns that can be found on Ravelry...

 
At 2/02/2012 10:38 PM, Blogger rini. said...

Thank you so much! This was extremely helpful and very clear.

 
At 2/09/2012 2:51 PM, Blogger Darlene said...

Hi,
I can't believe I finally found someone that can read japanese crochet patterns lol
I am trying to make my grandaughter the Hello Kitty blanket by crocheting with granny squares. I found the japanese pattern but I haven't a clue how to figure it out. Can you help me?? my email is cdnlooney49@hotmail.com
thank you
Darlene

 
At 2/17/2012 5:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The symbols are not my problem, in fact they are easier for me than written instructions. My problem is with the rest of the instructions: what yarn, what size needle, what gauge. Any ideas for that?

 
At 4/13/2012 5:04 AM, Blogger LINDA said...

You are amazing!! I have been looking all over for help in reading charts. i never dreamed I'd find something this good!! I cannot say enough about how wonderful this is!!!! You should do more of this type of tutorial. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!
Linda

 
At 4/27/2012 4:09 AM, Blogger Alina said...

Thank you very much! Your explanations are great and very helpful!

 
At 4/27/2012 5:36 PM, Anonymous Hamy said...

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! :DDD This has been really helpful! I used to come across Japanese crochet charts but I couldn't figure out how to decipher them for the life of me! It frustrated me so much as I had just gotten into crochet at the time and I thought I'd have to give up hopes of ever making these cute little amigurumi (and more). So, THANK YOU!

 
At 5/04/2012 3:32 AM, Blogger purpledragonfly said...

Chart make it easier for left handed crocheted , we can see how to crochet going clockwise in circle patterns, sometime it is hard follow written directions that are for right handed people.

 
At 5/06/2012 6:58 AM, Blogger VeganGem said...

Thank you for taking the time to do this. There are so many beautiful Japanese items and being able to read the charts is so helpful.

 
At 5/08/2012 9:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post! I have crocheted before but have been knitting for a while. Then found I a gorgeous cardigan that I wanted to make for my friend that crocheted. I downloaded the pattern, then looked at it and said "WTF??" lol So glad I found your post quickly! I'm sure there will be a few mistakes along the way but I love learning new stuff like this :-)

 
At 5/19/2012 4:41 PM, Blogger heidihill said...

It's so amazing to me that there are people like you in the world,who have no agenda other than to help others..I am grateful that I just found you,esp. since I just purchased a Japanese motif book(going nuts over THE Japanese flower everyone on the net seems to be doing!) It is a pleasure to meet you;and I look forward to future posts!
Regards,H

 
At 10/15/2012 7:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi
I'm new to Crochet and can't read diagram but you have shown me but still i'm having trouble reading http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/27-g741k-mini-basket this pattern.It's a Japanese pdf file. Can you please write this pattern for me. I'll be very glad...

Thanks
Aaina

 
At 10/26/2012 1:55 AM, Anonymous Belinda said...

I found you through Google and I have to say a very big THANK YOU for your simple instruction!! It is clear and makes thing so much easier!! Thank you again!!!

 
At 10/27/2012 10:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have the same problem! Just spent $300 buying all these Japanese crochet fashion books and now I'm stuck on this part...to get the gauge right! It's frustrating!

 
At 11/26/2012 4:34 PM, Blogger samita said...

Thanks for the explanation. I was perplexed when I saw the japanese instructions. Your tutorial made it so easy !!!!

 
At 11/26/2012 4:35 PM, Blogger samita said...

Thanks for the site. I have been perplexed by the Japanese instructions as I am used to English instructions. Your site made it real easy !!!!

 
At 4/02/2013 10:31 AM, Blogger seegwenrun said...

I'm so very happy to have stumbled on this blog. THank You! I have been searching for a specific sweater that I want to create and every time I find a pattern even close to what I'm looking for it happens to be a Japanese pattern. You have taken the fear out of it for me and by golly I'm going to try one of those patterns. Thanks again.

 
At 4/14/2013 9:08 AM, Blogger Hoda T said...

thank you soo much for this post and your explenationm I'm new to Japanese style patterns and i do have a pattern that shows some dotted line that are connecting to the a straight pattern on top of the circle i really dont understand what dose these line means apprecited if you could help me on it.

thanks

 

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