Stitch Diagrams: Map and Key for Crochet Success
The act of crocheting something for someone always gives me warm fuzziess in my soul. This effect is increased exponentially when that someone is a tiny, new someone. Crocheting for babies is always rewarding: The projects are small and quick, they’re a great way to learn new techniques, and you can use all those fabulous colors that your teenager refuses to acknowledge.
Robyn Chachula’s soon-to-be-released book Baby Blueprint Crochet is full of adorable, engaging projects that are sure to delight both the stitcher and the receiver. If you like making things for babies and kids, I can pretty much guarantee that you will want this book. If you like those projects and you’re a fan of stitch diagrams, you really need to see this book. Robyn designs and creates her own diagrams, and each one is fit to be its own piece of wall-art. Apart from making great decorations, they are an extremely useful way to read a pattern. However, for those not used to reading them, they can look more like cryptic crop circles than a project map.
So, to get you all ready for the release of this book, let’s do a quick review of how to read a stitch diagram. A stitch diagram is essentially a picture of the project, with special symbols used to represent individual stitches. Each diagram is accompanied by a key, like the one at left, that tells you what stitch each symbol stands for. Robyn’s book starts out with a section on reading these diagrams. Below is one of her sample diagrams from that beginning section. It may look confusing at first, but let’s break it down.
The little ovals along the bottom are chain stitches, as we can see from the key. The way that they go up the side of the first row of the work shows that the last few chains worked will count as a turning chain or stitch. We see then two double crochets worked into the same chain, several chains that are not worked into, then a single crochet, chain 3, skip a chain, and another single crochet. Then we see 2 double crochet, chain 2, 2 double crochet all worked into the same chain, and then those stitches repeated across the chain. We then see our turning chain (shown in blue to differentiate the rows), a single crochet, and the same stitch pattern as the previous row, worked into the chain spaces created in Row 1.
Working with a written pattern alongside a stitch diagram is a good way to practice reading the diagrams intuitively. Before long, you’ll be able to read a pattern directly from its diagram, using the pattern only when clarification is needed, and you may even find yourself drawing your own stitch diagrams for instructions that don’t have them!
Here’s a picture of what the above diagram looks like when it is crocheted (and just wait until you see the whole garment in the book!):
So, if you haven’t tried working from stitch diagrams before, go ahead and give it a go! It’s a great skill to have for working with patterns. It will also be great practice for all of the adorable patterns in Robyn’s book. I know I’m going to be making quite a few of them. My BFF is expecting her first child in January. I have visions of myself as the odd auntie who cozies the child for life in yarn-wear. I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to it!