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!)
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):
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:
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!