Help Me, Help You (Reading Crochet Patterns)


About 3-4 times a week, a version of the following email lands in my inbox:

“Hi Kat, I’ve just bought your pattern/book and I am stuck. What does 2htr in htr/2 (3, 5, 6)/ [3 ch, 3 tr] three times mean?”

These are often emails from very experienced crocheters. People who have made beautiful blankets, home accessories, amigurimi, or even hats and baby items. They know how to crochet, but get stuck at the point of reading a pattern.

After some digging, thinking and talking, I have come to think that the problem is 2 fold: 1. The  lack of standardisation of crochet patterns and 2. The prevalence of crochet photo tutorials.

With regards to the first issue – the fact that crochet terms and style sheets vary so widely (not to mention the UK vs US divide), short of Joanne and I taking over the crochet world, its a pain in the backside that is probably going to continue. The chances of everyone in the world clubbing together and writing every increase in the same way is unlikely to happen. What I can say is that across my own patterns, my books, and The Crochet Project magazines, we work to a very clear stylesheet, so there is always consistency.  Joanne has worked tirelessly at getting these in shape and they are brilliant. They are also pretty consistent with both Inside Crochet and Simply Crochet (though a few differences are there), so that if you live in the UK, you should be comfortable wherever you are working from.

Problem 2 is a trickier one. Photo tutorials are great. As anyone who has ever written one knows, they are a TON of work.  Hours and hours, sometimes days, of photographing, making, writing and editing. They are awesome for teaching new skills and techniques and just a wonderful resource for makers.  If you know basic stitches, its very easy to follow along and see where you are going to make the project.  You can make beautiful things, without ever having read a pattern.


But, tutorials can only go so far in crochet…with space at a premium in printed books or printable patterns, and when garments are graded across multiple sizes, patterns are needed to tell people what to do in a way that makes as much sense as possible.

I have spent a lot of time trying to get to grips with bridging the gap between written patterns and photo tutorials. My kits include both written patterns and step by step photos where possible.  I have written a guide that I often refer people to when I get the initial emails about a pattern. A version of this is also included in my books to try and help as many people as possible access written patterns. We are also including a few stitch charts in my next book to help with a couple of the more complicated patterns. However, I am going to be honest here, I don’t know what else to do. I want to help people and I see no decrease in the number of pattern reading queries I get.

So my question to you all is – what else can I do to help? If you crochet and don’t read patterns – why? What would you like to see to get you over the bridge of pattern reading? If you do read patterns, what helped you get there? 

Thank you so much for your help!!

(photos are of gorgeous Manos Serena – Georgia is desperate for a cardigan and dug this out of my stash and chose buttons. How on earth does one say no to that?!?! The yarn is luscious cotton/alpaca blend as well…YUM!)

Love Is…


Doing an emergency stop on a country road, whilst yelling “WILD GARLIC!!!”, then waiting patiently so I could collect a bag full of my favourite Spring-time arrival. He’s a keeper, that Kevin.


Finding a Rhythm

20140328-IMG_1877 When I first started working with (almost) full-time childcare, I felt a certain sense of obligation to work 9-5, sat at my desk, getting shit done. I felt like it was irresponsible to do anything else because I paid for childcare and  that is what I would have done if I was employed by an employer. Slowly, I realised 2 things a) I don’t work in an office with a boss breathing down my neck and b) I am not particularly suited  to that kind of structure. My work and my life call for a more fluid approach to time. Sometimes, through the night work is called for, at others, a day off nursing little sickies is my occupation. Once I realised that it wasn’t about the time I worked, but what I got done that was important, a new, more natural rhythm arrived. 20140328-IMG_1889 With 3 small people around, there is no question that things change quickly, but on the whole I follow the same sort of pattern each day. Always having been an early riser, its not uncommon for me to be at my desk from 4 or 5am – it gets earlier as the days get lighter. I spend the few precious hours (if I am lucky) before the kids wake up answering emails and doing any writing I need. From about 7am until Ellis catches the bus at 8:30 – its a mad race of endless rounds of toast, finding socks, wrangling the smallest one into any clothes at all, walking the dog, letting the chickens out and general craziness. Once the house is quiet – either the little ones at nursery or in the care of Dalia, the German student who has been living with us since September, I head over to the studio for a morning of work. This is my most productive time of day and I use it for working on my top priorities – grading patterns, writing blog posts, editing and working on Blogtacular. Our rural internet is on the slow side, but its best in the morning, so I try to keep this for computer time. I work until lunch, when I head back over to the house for a bit to do laundry, eat and take the dog for a walk down the road. 20140328-IMG_1883 I tend to keep the time after lunch for creative work.  Even now, in my deadline free days, I ensure that I always have something to make. At the moment, I have prioritised knitting things from other designer’s patterns – both to give myself a much needed rest and to learn from others. Not having made many garments before writing Crochet at Play and then having to design them was a challenge. So far, its been a good learning experience, as well as an eye opening one (if I ever write “Work to correspond to left front, reversing all shaping and placement of pattern stitches” in a pattern, you have permission to kick me). It all has the added bonus of watching some good telly while I am legitimately working. Late afternoons and evenings are for the kids and after the walks and dinner and homework, I tend to edit and upload photos, so they can go into client dropboxes over night. 20140328-IMG_1879

And while this is the rough schedule, I also am trying to be gentle with myself after the stress of the last few months. If words aren’t flowing (and there isn’t something I HAVE to do that day), I don’t push it. I know that things will get done and I will be working over time again soon (with the final manuscript proof for book 2 arriving to coincide with the Easter Holidays and exactly 1 month before Blogtacular, for example).

(photo is of the puerperium cardigan. Made in Bowland Dk in Damselfly by Eden Cottage Yarns.  Photographed on the piece of rotten roof that was leaking water into the kitchen and causing everyone to get a shock when they turned on the light. It is pretty though, hey?)