Making Sense of Crochet Terminology- with Beth Major

Try as we might, we just don’t talk about crochet on this blog as much as we would like to. Admittedly, our lack of crochet chatter would be because none of us are really all that well versed in crochet around the Estelle Yarns offices. (Embarrassing- but true!) Fortunately for us however, we recently met up with Beth Major, a prolific crochet designer who can be found on Ravelry and other social media outlets as TheCrochetGypsy. 

Having been an avid crocheter for over forty years, and a certified crochet instructor through the Craft Yarn Council of America for over ten years, Beth is someone we felt confident in asking for a little crochet help. Wouldn’t you?

Beth has also been publishing crochet designs for over eight years now, and we are excited to announce that she will be launching a few designs for Estelle Yarns in the coming months, so be sure to stay tuned for that!

Beth has been kind enough to write a blog post for us today, explaining the difference between North American and UK crochet terminology, as it can certainly be confusing for newbie crocheters out there- especially since there is some overlap between the terms. (Same term- different stitch!)

We hope that by the end of this post, any uncertainties that you may have will be cleared up- and you can finally get to hooking!

But before we get startd, we would like to extend a big Thank You to you Beth for clearing up some of our crocheting queries. We look forward to getting started with our hooks!

What’s in a Stitch?

If you are anything like me, you have found the PERFECT yarn, scoured Ravelry for the PERFECT pattern and have excitedly dove into your new project, only to realize about halfway through that something isn’t quite right. Your work doesn’t look anything like the picture, or the size is just wrong- very wrong. Unless you are one of the very few of us that diligently work up the gauge swatch for EVERY pattern, you have likely been caught in this situation. What the heck is going on? The pattern is saying DC (double crochet) why is your work HUGE compared to the pic?

Congratulations/condolences! You have fallen into the UK/US terminology trap.

Just a few of Beth’s designs

Okay. Admittedly, talking about crochet stitches is boring for most people. A real snooze-fest in fact! I mean really, unless you are an avid crochet geek like me, who cares? Well, download one pattern written in English … but not English … at least not the English you understand, and it might as well be in Russian.

In crochet terms, depending on which side of the pond you hail from, different crochet stitches have the same term and abbreviation and it is wonderfully confusing especially for the novice crocheter.

In the chart below, I have illustrated the comparisons.

Type of stitch Name of Stitch US Name of stitch UK Number or wraps on hook before starting the stitch
Foundation Chain (CH) Chain (CH) 0
Smallest Slip Stitch (SL ST) Slip Stitch (SL ST) 0
Shortest Single Crochet (SC) Double Crochet (DC) 0
Medium Half Double Crochet (HDC) Half Treble Crochet (HTR) 1
Tall Double Crochet (DC) Treble Crochet (TR) 1
Tallest Treble Crochet (TR) Double Treble 2

In UK terms, there is no such thing as a ‘single crochet’. They do create that stitch but they call it ‘double crochet’. This stitch is where the divergence begins. I have thought often about why that may be and I have realized that there are simply different ways to describe how to create the shortest of the crochet stitches.

To create the shortest stitch, the steps are as follows:
Step 1: Insert your hook into the stitch
Step 2: Yarn over
Step 3: Pull up that loop through the stitch
Step 4: Yarn over again
Step 5: Pull yarn through two loops on the hook.

For the taller stitches: you repeat steps 4 and 5 until there is one loop left on the hook.

The difference comes from where you start counting the creation of the stitch.
In US terms, the stitch name comes from the number of ‘yarn overs’ you do AFTER you pull the loop up through the stitch (step 3). So, in US terms, for single crochet there is only one ‘yarn over’ after step 3 therefore the term single crochet. For double crochet, there are two ‘yarn overs’ after step 3 therefore the term double crochet.

In UK terms, ALL ‘yarn overs’ are considered in the naming of the stitch. So, because the
shortest stitch has a yarn over in step 2 and one in step 4, the stitch is called ‘double crochet’.

Clear as mud? I thought so! So … now what? You know why, but the question remains “How do I fix it?”

Tip #1: Be diligent with making sure the pattern you want is in the terms you understand! Ravelry has become quite good with labeling crochet patterns with UK or US terms. (Thanks Ravelry!! You Rock!)

Tip #2: If you are finding patterns on a yarn website (ex. Estelle, King Cole, etc.) try to determine where the company is located as this will determine which terms are used. Same thing goes for magazines! Try to figure out where they are published.

Tip #3: Email the pattern designer and ask!! They always love to hear from people who love their patterns and are usually quite happy to help if they can.

Tip #4: When you already have a pattern and need it translated, try this trick in your word processor.

  • Copy and paste the pattern into a word processing program.
  • Then perform the “Find and Replace” function to quickly change all the terms from one method of terminology to another.
  • For example, for a UK pattern to US terms, ‘find’ the ‘DC’ and ‘replace’ with ‘SC’ and select ‘Replace All’ to quickly convert it to a US pattern so that you can crochet it.

So there you have it. Easy Peasy! Now you know how to get out of the US/UK term trap. Or, at least avoid it in the first place!

Happy crocheting everyone!

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