Reading Instructions & Other Basics

Trouble reading your instructions?

Before you panic and call for help:

  1. Read through the entire part of the pattern you are about to crochet or knit.
  2. Actually do what the pattern tells you to do. Often times, just reading it will not make sense.
  3. Have a friend read the pattern aloud as you work it.

Terms You Will See A Lot

Ball or skein
is a term used to describe how the yarn is wound. Usually, you can pull a thread from the center of a skein, which eliminates tangled yarn.
Fasten Off
refers to securing the last stitch so your work does not unravel. It is done by pulling the cut end of the yarn through the last remaining stitch and tightening.
is the single most important element in producing a successful crochet or knitted project. It is the number of stitches and rows in each inch. You must achieve the gauge specified in the pattern in order for the project to fit. It is always recommended that a gauge swatch be knitted or crocheted before beginning a project. Pattern instructions may vary, but it is recommended that your gauge swatch be a 4" square.

  • To make a gauge swatch, using the yarn, needles and pattern stitch called for at the beginning of the pattern, cast on four times the specified number of stitches per inch. For example, if 5 stitches and 7 rows = 1", cast on 20 stitches and work 28 rows in the pattern. The swatch should be 4" square.
  • If the swatch is larger than 4" square, switch to a smaller needle or hook and make another swatch. If the swatch is smaller than 4" square, switch to the next larger needle and make another swatch.
Knitwise or Purlwise
Frequently a pattern will say slip a stitch "knitwise (or purlwise)," which means you insert the right needle into the first stitch on the left needle as if you were going to knit (or purl) and transfer it to the right needle without making a new stitch. (See Slip Stitch in Knit 911).
Right Side
refers to the outer (visible) side of a project piece.
refers to the thickness of a yarn. There are seven standard yarn weights and each has a specific yarn symbol, which is usually pictured on the yarn band: Lace, Super Fine, Fine, Light, Medium, Bulky, and Super Bulky. For more details about each yarn weight and gauge ranges for each, visit:
six standard yarn weights
Work or Work Even
means to continue to crocheting or knitting in the pattern as established, without working any increase or decreases.
Wrong Side
refers to the inside (hidden) side of a project piece.