How to read my patterns

Hi folks 🙂

I thought it was time I explained how and why I write my patterns the way I do.  I’m not talking about my designs here, I’m talking about the format – the way they’re set out and why it is like it is.

How I write my patterns by Shelley Husband

When I first started to design myself, I had experienced a few different styles of pattern writing. I had tried all sorts – long, brief, complex, wrong, confusing and clear.

When it came to me explaining what to do for my seamless way of crochet design (you can read about that here) I needed to come up with my own way that would make sense for all of my patterns from simple to complex and give you and me consistency.  I wanted you to be able to pick up any of my patterns and be confident enough with my style to do it.  I wanted them to be not too wordy, but have everything in them you need to succeed – no guesswork needed.  If there’s a stitch to be skipped I’ll tell you.

And so after a while of trial and error and a lot of testing, I have settled on the way I’ll explain today.

How to Read My Patterns

All my patterns will have at the bare minimum

  • yarn and hook recommendation
  • yardage
  • list of stitches used and their abbreviations
  • clear written instructions
  • stitch counts
  • clear photo/s of the finished pattern

Sometimes they also have (I won’t be explaining these today)

  • a chart
  • round by round photos
  • link to video tutorial
  • notes and photos of interesting parts

Let’s look at all of them one by one

Yarn and Hook recommendation & yardage

The yarn and hook stated is a recommendation and not what you MUST use.  Go with what suits you – stash yarn, hook size you know works best for you.  If a pattern calls for 8 ply cotton yarn, you don’t have to use that!  Use wool, acrylic, use super chunky, use lace – it’s all good.  You know the size will be different as will the yardage, but as most of my patterns are squares not clothing it’s not an issue unless you are mixing and matching patterns from different designers.  What I recommend will give you a pattern the size stated, but you don’t have to be bound by that. Really. It’s ok.

hook and yarn

Stitches and abbreviations

Now some of my patterns are quite complex and use a lot of stitches and techniques. I list the stitches and techniques separately and assume you know what putting a fp in front of a st abbreviation means. This saves a lot of space!

Here is a mock up of a fictional abbreviations list using a few different stitches and techniques.

ss = slip stitch
sp/s = space/s
st/s = stitch/es
ch = chain
st ch = starting chain
dc = double crochet
htr = half treble crochet
tr = treble crochet
dtr = double treble crochet
dtr5tog = double treble 5 sts together
fp = front post
bp = back post
blo= back loop only
pc = popcorn stitch

Quite long isn’t it?  Now image I listed every stitch combined with the technique as well?  So this list would be almost twice the size with fptr, fpdc, fphtr, fptr in blo fpdtr54tog if those stitch and technique combinations were included and explained as well.   You’re smart! You don’t need me to spell it out.

Written pattern

Let’s start with a pattern everyone knows – a simple granny square.  This is the first 2 rounds from the written pattern for a traditional granny square, made my seamless way :

Round 1
ch 3 (st ch), 2 tr, *ch 2, 3 tr*, repeat from * to * twice, ch 1, join with dc to 3rd ch of st ch.
{3 sts along each side and 4 x 2 ch sps}

Round 2
ch 3 (st ch), 2 tr over joining dc, *ch 1**, (3 tr, ch 2, 3 tr) in 2 ch sp*, repeat from * to * twice and from * to ** once, 3 tr in same sp as first sts, ch 1, join with dc to 3rd ch of st ch.
{6 sts & 1 x 1 ch sp along each side and 4 x 2 ch corner sps}

At the start, I tell you how to begin the round, then you’ll see an asterisk.  This * indicates the beginning of a repeat.  Ignore it for now and keep working along until you get to the words “repeat from…”.  That is your cue to go back to the first * and repeat as instructed.  After the repeats are done, then I will instruct you to finish off the round.

The instructions between * and ** equal one side only.  The instructions between ** and * equal one corner.  So that means the instructions between * and * equal one side and the following corner.  This is true of a square pattern but it also works for round patterns.

Granny Square by Shelley Husband

Here’s the first few rounds of a standard circle pattern :

Round 1
ch 3, (st ch), 11 tr, join with ss to 3rd ch of st ch.
{12 sts}

Round 2
ch 3 (st ch), tr in same st as ss, 2 tr in next 11 sts, join with ss to 3rd ch of st ch.
{24 sts}

Round 3
ch 3 (st ch), tr in same st as ss, *tr in next st**, 2 tr in next st*, repeat from * to * 10 times and from * to ** once, join with ss to 3rd ch of st ch.
{36 sts}

In this case the instructions between the * and * are a full pattern repeat and those from * to ** are a partial repeat.  There are 12 full repeats in this example per round.

rainbow circle by Shelley Husband

Sometimes folks on first go think the repeats should be a higher number or tell me that it should say “repeat again” but to me, repeat means “do again what you just did” and so the numbers and words are as they are.


Stitch counts

The words and numbers in the curly brackets { } are the stitch count for the round.  I quite often design large patterns to me the thought of counting all those stitches is just a no, so if a pattern is square or other shape with corners,  I will state how many stitches are along each side between the corners and also describe the corners.  So taking the example from the basic granny Round 2 :

{6 sts & 1 x 1 ch sp along each side and 4 x 2 ch corner sps}

If it’s round or other shaped pattern with no corners, then I will say how many sts in total.  If it’s a flower I may say 6 petals or similar if it’s clear what you should have.

It really does pay to check these every now and then, especially if you’re about to square off a circle!  It’s important then to have the right number of stitches!

Clear photos

You need to be able to see what your pattern will make so I endeavour to have at least a couple of photos in the patterns.  If it’s appropriate I’ll share some alternate colour ways too.

Lazarev by Shelley Husband f

What you won’t find in my patterns

Colour changed. Generally, I write my patterns as if they are being made in a single colour.  There are 2 reasons I do this.

  1. My seamless ways do mean a slight change to the way each round is finished to how it would be if you were changing colours and so I assume colour won’t be changed.  It’s easier to say “chain the same number of sts as other corners and join with a ss” if asked, as that will always be the way to end if you are changing colours. To explain my seamless ways each time as an alternative isn’t feasible as it frequently changes depending on the pattern. It would make the patterns so very much longer.
  2. Your colour choices are most likely different to mine. You can use any colours you like and you don’t have to change colours where I do. You can use 2 colours or 7 – it’s up to you. I don’t list my change points on purpose as I believe every pattern can look great in many many colour combos.  Your choices are as good as anyone’s.  Do what makes you happy.

Of course, as always there are exceptions. Kaboom for example and my Flowers Abound patterns all do state colour changes as they are integral to those patterns.  But, you are not bound by them at all. You can still mix them up as much as you like.

So that’s it!  The how and the why of my pattern format.  I hope I have covered everything, if not, please just ask and I’ll explain more.

Until next time…

xx Shelley


  1. Alison

    Hi Shelley, how refreshing to read this today. I often see CAL’s or patterns where everyone is doing exactly the same as the pattern, not really my thing. Love your patterns and thank you for all you do.

    • Shelley Husband

      That’s so lovely of you to say Alison 🙂 Thanks so much. I am glad you enjoy my patterns – I sure have a lot of fun designing them 🙂

  2. Samantha Taylor

    Great explainations. Your pattern writing is absolutely brilliant. I teach Crochet and te biggest struggle I find people have is trying to understand patterns. I have a few hard back resources I recommend and about 5 online recourses. You are in that 5. Your patterns and instructions give people the confidence to take that next step in their crochet journey and that’s just awesome – thanks ?

    • Shelley Husband

      Aww Samantha! Thank you so much! That means a lot to me to hear that my efforts are appreciated 🙂

  3. Lynn

    I purchased Granny Square Flair and then Shelley sent me a follow up email and showed me her other offerings!!! Wow.
    I think I might be very busy over the coming year as I love these patterns and can’t see anything that I’ m not going to “need” to make!!
    And yes, I purchased a bulk lot of yarn already!!! ???
    Love to carry on chatting but there’s yarn that needs my attention…
    Thanks so much Shelley ?

  4. Sharon

    Hi – I am working my way through your ‘g
    Granny Square Flair’ book. I am now on ‘Granny flower’, which I thought would be easy! However I cannot figure out R3. *ch3, skip (ss, 3-ch space, 3sts, 3-chsp and ss)
    1) ‘skip’ – what am I ‘skipping’?
    2) ‘ss’ – ss in where?
    3) ‘3 ch space’ – what am I doing with the three chain space?
    4) ‘3sts’ – what am I doing with ‘3 sts’? do you mean chain 3?
    … and so on for the remainder of the instructions. Maybe the commas in the instructions are in the wrong places? I am sure that I am being really stupid somewhere! But I would be grateful for your help.

    • Sharon

      … Ah, light bulb moment! – skip everything in brackets! doh!

      • Shelley Husband

        I’m glad you’ve had that light bulb moment 🙂 Everything is there for a reason!

  5. Sharon

    Hi – I have been crocheting the squares from ‘Granny Square Flair’ and I was looking at ‘Siren’s Atlas’ if I bought this book would the squares mix and match with the squares from ‘ Granny Square Flair? Same tension, and needle and yarn equals same size etc?
    Kind Regards

    • Shelley Husband

      Hi Sharon 🙂

      Yes all the patterns from both books are designed to be 6″ or the same size when you use the same yarn and hook.

  6. bonnie jeffrey

    please show me where I can see your instructions “sc in same st as ss” illustrated

    • Shelley Husband

      All that means is you are working a stitch in exactly the same stitch where you joined with a slip stitch at the end of the previous round. Usually, that is the first stitch of the previous round. I cover it in detail in Granny Square Academy.

  7. Maureen O'Neill

    Hi Shelley,
    I am enjoying the challenge of the granny square patchwork patterns.
    One I am a bit confused with is R5 in the Bellis pattern.
    I can’t get to 64 sts at the end.
    Thanks Maureen

    • Shelley Husband

      Hi Maureen! Glad you are enjoying the challenge!

      I assume it’s the between last and next instruction that is tripping you up. Every st in R4 has a stitch worked in or around it, but you also need to work a stitch between all the stitches. If that doesn’t help, head to my Facebook group or send me an email.

      • Maureen O'Neill

        Hi Shelley,
        Many thanks for your help with R5 on the Bellis pattern..
        I have redone it and it worked perfectly.
        I’m so happy with the finished square. Can’t wait to try the next one.


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