Let's Talk About Crochet Patterns
There was a time when the though of reading a crochet pattern looked like some foreign language I would never understand. It looked complicated, but I never realized how easy they are to read until much later. To put it simply, crochet patterns are simple abbreviations.
WHAT IS A PATTERN?
A crochet pattern is way for a designer to communicate their finished design with the person re-creating their piece. Usually things are broken down in rows or rounds and worked step by step.
HOW CAN I LEARN?
The best way to learn is to grab your hook and yarn and get started. Know that you're going to mess up, and that's okay. Even experienced crocheters like myself usually end up frogging the first few rows a couple of times before we get the hang of it. The other thing you will need is a good pattern.
WHERE DO I FIND A PATTERN?
I recommend using a commercial or paid pattern specifically for beginners. The internet is full of free crochet patterns, but they are not all created equally. Free patterns that are not made by a designer can be full of technical errors that will complicate the learning process. It wouldn't be good to waste all your time learning the wrong way.
HOW DO I KNOW IF IT'S A BEGINNER PATTERN?
Crochet patterns are broken up into 4 categories: beginner, intermediate, advanced and experienced. You'll also find all of the supplies needed such as yarn, hook size and necessary finishing tools such as a tapestry needle. Some more advanced patterns will also include multiple sizes, with different directions for each.
READY TO START?
Before starting a pattern, read it throughly to get a feel for it. Understanding how it Is made is important before you make that first stitch. I find that using a printed copy to work is best. I keep it on a clipboard with a pen nearby to make notes and cross off rows I have completed. Also study the different stitches in the pattern. You can find a complete list of crochet abbreviations here - I recommend printing a copy. Areas of the pattern that require you to repeat a set of instructions are usually divided by ** () or  followed by a rep "x (repeat " times).
READING AND CROCHETING
Work each section of the pattern individually. Instructions are broken up with rows or rounds (rds) and further with commas. At the end of a row/round count your stitches to make sure you're getting everything. Skipped stitches will affect your final finished piece so it's important you don't miss any. The first and last stitch are usually the easiest to miss.