Reading Crochet Graphs

Portrait of my parents, by Rae

A portrait crochet piece done in single crochet.

Crochet is wonderful, isn’t it? You get to create the most amazing things when you crochet! One of my favorite things to create are tapestry crochet pieces. Whether they’re small geek squares or bigger crochet portraits, creating a piece of art with my hook and yarn is so satisfying!

You can find patterns all over the internet. Many of these are published as graphs – so all you need to know is how to read them! Once you know how, even cross-stitch and perler bead patterns can be used to create your crochet art!

There’s no secret to reading graphs! And once you know how, your projects can be done in any number of styles. The sky’s the limit.

I’ve seen them in SC, HDC, DC, C2C, Waffle Stitch, Puff Stitch, Pixel Quilts using Granny Squares, and Tunisian Simple Stitch, and I know there are many more enterprising crocheters out there coming up with new styles every day.

In this post, we’ll use a SC project as an example.

Graphs vs. Charts

First of all, crochet graphs are very different from charts.

Happily Hooked Smile graph patternCharts use pictograms of each type of stitch to illustrate how a project should be worked up. They can be used for hats, scarves, shawls – practically anything you can create with a hook. We’ll write up a blog post with instructions on how to read charts and create a printable for you in the near future.

Graphs are used specifically for color work techniques (and sometimes filet crochet) and are very similar to the charts found in cross-stitch or perler bead patterns. They are typically an image of your piece with an overlay to help you count squares. One square equals one stitch.

You can print your chart out and mark off squares as you go, or count up all the squares per row up-front and create your own stitch instructions.

Reading Crochet Graphs

Start with a chain in your first color. It should have the same number of stitches as your graph. It’s up to you whether you use a turning chain or not.

Read your graph from the bottom right-hand corner. Remember, one square equals one stitch.

Work your first row (the last on the graph) from right to left. In the image above, you would work 5 single crochets for each large grid for a total of 50 stitches. Turn your work.

The next row is the second from the bottom and is read from left to right. The next row, third from the bottom, is read right to left, and the next, from left to right. Continue up the graph alternating your reading direction from side-to-side, until you’re finished. Check out our handy graphic below. Just right-click and save this image for printing.

Read Crochet Graph - HHM

Finish off by weaving in your ends for a reversible piece, or by backing your project to hide your ends and you’re done.

While there are many techniques for creating tapestry crochet pieces, now that you know how to read a graph, you’ve got a great start. We hope that you are excited by this type of crochet project, as we’ve got a surprise for you coming up this Friday!

Happy Hooking!

About The Author

Rae Redford

Rae has been a freelance writer, a video game producer, a crochet pattern designer, an eZine editor, and an international dog show planner. She’s worked for both LEGO and Disney and is a dyed-in-the-wool geek. And now she's lucky enough to work with the wonderful people at Happily Hooked Magazine, bringing you the best in crochet, and making sure that you're... well... happily hooked!