Instructions Overwhelm Me: Crochet Patterns

Crochet Crowd Challenge Overview

Mikey, The Crochet Crowd

One of my personal barriers in life is the ability to read and comprehend instructions. I share this information freely because I know I am not alone.

I would describe myself as ‘monkey see, monkey do’, in my case, ‘Mike see, Mikey do!’ I’m a very visual person, I have to see how to do something by watching and listening to a live example being done first.

I struggle with instructions because I tend to read things that make me struggle. To put it simply, this is a real life example from when I was about 10 years old.

My dad turns to us kids in the back and asks us to look for cars as he’s about to go onto the main road.

I said, “No Cars”. My sister says “NO CARS” with a louder voice. My dad flipped out and immediately braked yelling “Where!” and proceeded to give my sister a hard time because she freaked him out.

Though my sister and I had said the exact same two words, the meanings were interpreted differently. My sister’s louder voice implied NO! Cars! which suggested there was on coming traffic and he was about to hit them.

I find the same with crochet patterns. I read things that aren’t there by somehow skipping over commas, grammar and much more. You would be astounded how much I have frogged as a result of missing to comprehend a comma, period or instructional line. I am so mad at myself when I have to frog but I’m really not sure how to solve my problem of instruction comprehension.

For pattern books, I always get books that have diagrams in the books to accompany the instructions. I need it for visual aids because I struggle with the written words to show me the way.

I will admit, sometimes people come up to me to help them do a pattern on the instructions. For me, sometimes I need to grab the yarn and hook out to follow along to see where the error is. I wish I had the gift to problem solve everything without doing that, but for me, this is who I am and I have to work to my limitations.

If anyone else has a limitation like… would you like to share with us on how to overcome and help yourself. I would love to know, even for me on a personal level. Share with me in a comment below.


About Mikey, The Crochet Crowd

I am Mikey, owner of The Crochet Crowd Blog. I'm a 'hooker' at heart with the passion to crochet. I am from Ontario Canada and teach how to crochet online through YouTube Video Tutorials. From a simple idea and being at the right place and time in my life back in 2008, the concept of The Crochet Crowd was developed. I'm here to hook and share. Come follow my crochet journey and share yours with comments here and you are most welcome to share your creativity within our Facebook page.
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107 Responses to Instructions Overwhelm Me: Crochet Patterns

  1. delila says:

    The problem is not you, the problem is the patterns are written in Crochettish . LOL They are impossible. I say, there HAS to be a better way of telling me what to do. Thus, I listen to your videos.

  2. Robyn says:

    I have the same problem, but I think you have found how to over come your problem and don’t realize it. What do ya think?

  3. Loretta Burnham says:

    When it comes to reading patterns and getting it, I would just do a quick look. I would always,then get stuck or it don’t look right. Then, I get MAD at myself. I have learn to look over the pattern, be sure. Even, make remarks near each step. If I don’t get it, I keep trying. After, a few try’s, I get it. I don’t like to give up. Mikey, you’re not alone.

  4. I hate to nitpick, but I think the headline should read “Written instructions overwhelm me”, cuz the first thing I thought was “she can’t follow instructions, so she goes her own way? How can Mikey help, then?”

  5. I’m 50/50 on my ability to read patterns. Some are easy but thank goodness we’re in the internet age as I can just watch quick videos for those stitches that don’t make any sense to me. I’ll have to check out yours for crochet. I used to be able to crochet but I’ve forgotten how! Shame.

  6. mary says:

    Hey Mikey, I think there are more of us out there than we think! I am a knitter and part time crocheter. As a young girl, my mother taught me how to knit by watching her knit. Pattern? what pattern? I continued to do so into my adult years without ever looking at a pattern. Well, I shouldn’t say I didn’t look because I looked plenty, with tears. Why couldn’t I decipher a silly pattern? Was this a form of Dyslexia? Sometimes the words looked all mixed up or I would put one word ahead of the other…or was it anxiety? Then I thought I was lazy and didn’t want to bother with the patterns. I thought why should I if all I had to do was make up my own or just look at the photos? Years went by and patterns were getting more intricate and sophisticated and I still didn’t know how to read and work a pattern. It wasn’t until a few years ago where I literally forced myself to sit down, open a book and try to decipher a pattern, st by st. I went with a sock pattern…COULD I HAVE PICKED ANYTHING HARDER? I was so FRUSTRATED to say the least. It did get easier with time and with lots of practice.

    I think you should sit yourself down and bite the bullet Mikey. If I can do it, YOU CAN. Find a simple pattern…study it, and crochet it stitch by stitch and you will get over this horrible hump. The question is…do you want it bad enough? This is the only way you will over come the problem in my opinion, trust me. I wanted it so badly that I could taste the anger, humility and frustration in me. I wasn’t going to let it get the best of me. I feel really good about myself now because I allowed myself to take the plunge, make mistakes, lots of mistakes. Come on over to my side…step over the line, take the plunge!



  7. txdistancerider says:

    I have the same problem…thus why your videos are so helpful to me!
    Thanks for all you do!

  8. Amanda says:

    It was so reassuring to read about your problems with patterns and instructions!. I learned to crochet around a year ago from a picture book on granny squares, borrowed from my local library. The instructions literally were step by step pictures!. It sparked my passion for crochet, and my hunger to know more!. But the only way I knew how was by looking and learning. I watched youtube instructional videos and easily mastered all the stitches, and found I could then look at a picture of a crocheted item and easily make it without a pattern. I have bought various pattern books, but like you, need the diagram, and REALLY struggle with working from written patterns. I recently joined a group where members share pictures of their work, and I found time and time again I was being asked for the pattern for the items I had made. This is where I have the biggest problem. I would love to be able to share the patterns for my makes…but wouldn’t even know where to start in writing them!!. To me, crochet is an instinct.. Each project starts with an idea, some yarn, a hook, and my instincts do the rest. The results aren’t always how I expected, but they are always individual. If I get a request from someone to make something, I don’t have to struggle to find a specific pattern…it’s all at my finger tips, raring to be created. So I’ve gotten over the fact that I struggled with patterns.. I’m more than happy to let my instinct take over. I crochet from the heart…not from a pattern book💗

  9. Tami Pekera says:

    Mikey I sometimes have the same trouble. But then I also have problems with videos. I’m left handed and most video’s are done right handed. I know there are some tutorials but not as much as for right handed folks. Fortunately I’m able to turn it around in my head but it takes a little more effort to do it. Reading patterns has never been an issue as far as being left handed. No conversion is necessary. I just read it and follow the directions doing it left handed and I get the same results. Sometimes however there are some patterns that I miss read and do the same as you by reading it wrong with the commas and parenthesis. With those I have to go over the instructions again and again until I get it. I did a Kufi hat for the first time a few months ago and I had to rip that sucker out 4 times! But I gotter done! I’ve been making them to fill an order and after doing the first two he wanted 3 more. Cool huh?

  10. Maria Torres says:

    Thanks for sharing Mikey, I myself enjoy reading the patterns but I have to have a picture to show how certain stitches work up or how the actual project should be looking. . If I have no diagrams to follow I’ll get lost, there are many times that I too have frogged projects as a result of misinterpreting a pattern, I’m glad I’m not alone. I’m glad for the written patterns option is with the videos this does make it better for me since I don’t have the patience to sit and watch a video when I can sit and listen to a movie in the background while attempting a pattern.

  11. Deb says:

    I love the tutorial ,but would love to also have written pattern. I am 64 and have been crocheting since I was 9. I call it my therapy in my old age.

  12. Jacqui says:

    Definitely a visual learner, thank you Mikey, I copy, paste and break the steps into smaller steps and put instructions into ‘Jacqui’ language 🙂 I also highlight each step as i go

  13. Chris Vill says:

    I write the pattern out in bullet point steps. That helps me dissect the pattern, learn any new stitches and organize the pattern in my head. For new stitches I love your videos. I can start, stop and rewind as much as I need until I get it.

  14. Sherrill says:

    I crochet very well, as far as simple patterns, tension, speed, etc. but have a very hard time with increase, decrease, etc. Takes me a long time to catch on, but I am getting better with the use of YouTube. I did not like the look of the first booties I made for my granddaughter, so when my daughter asked me to make them for the twins’ christening, I went on YouTube and watched videos on increasing and decreasing. Apparently, all these years, I have been doing some of it wrong.

    I made four Christmas stockings, and although I made all the toes the same, they looked wrong. When I went back and separated each sentence and read the pattern, I couldn’t believe how wrong I had read it. I ripped out all the toes, redid them, and they turned out perfectly. Now, whenever possible, I double space instructions in paragraphs (even if it means copy and pasting into word) or I use a ruler to only follow one line.

    I cannot follow charts. I have tried and tried and my eyes just cannot feed my brain the proper information, I guess. I am just thankful for videos and am making use of them more and more. My next challenge is learning to use crochet cotton. I want an angel for the top of my tree, and I am starting with little ones. Wish me luck!!

    • It’s a nice talent to have. Like playing the piano by ear or being able to read music without being taught. People ask me over and over how I do it. I have no idea. I can’t take credit for it, it’s just there.
      As far as reading patterns go sometimes to me they just look like a jumble of words. Then I did what Mary did and took the time to read ea. word, comma and period. That worked. I was impatient and wanted to get going. Another thing I did was to read part way through and then say to myself I know how to do it. I didn’t bother reading the pattern to the end and guess what? I didn’t know what I was doing, what a mess. Now I read the pattern thoroughly and finish it. Saves a lotta frogging. Mikey I think you want to get going. I look at the videos too just to be sure.

  15. Diane says:

    I have a problem learning from video tutorials…might be my age–back in the day, video was something that was part of the Audio/Visual club at school!

    With patterns, I often choose which one I want based solely on the photo of the finished item…I cannot do a quick read of the shorthand and have it make sense. My husband always knows when I’ve hit a tricky patch of a pattern because I’ll suddenly start saying the stitching out loud (i.e., 2 dc, ch 1, 2dctog, 1-2-3-4-make sure you don’t pull thru’ the 2nd part of each dc-5 dc and cluster).

  16. Pam Dow says:

    I am definitely a watch and learn , I too could read and not get it , so I will read allowed and if I still cant get it, I will have someone else read it to me , that helps a lot . so I use e-books a lot ,for crochet patterns ,Have Dan read them on recording for you to listen as you read and see if that helps . It has worked for me , Im even getting more by reading them myself lately .

  17. Sharon says:

    When I copy a pattern online, which is my preferred way of retaining a pattern, (not in pdf form), if a line has several directions in it, I tend to place each instruction on a different line. I also put a space between the last line of one row and the beginning of another row. That way i don’t get confused. When I print the pattern out to crochet it, I can lay the ruler under the line I am crocheting. Having old eyes sort of means I need to do things a little differently. Thank you for all your work on your videos as well as your patterns. I truly enjoy your website!!!

    • JCG1224 says:

      I love that we now have so many different ways of learning crochet. Sure wish it had been like that decades ago when I learned. Did an insane amount of frogging back then….lol
      I use a sticky not on each row to keep my place. It stays on the page and I can make any notes on I I may want added to the pattern.

  18. Martha says:

    I was just thinking that!! I learn better by watching. I just bought a pattern for a baseball hat. I’ve tried numerous times to crochet it but I gave up. It asking me for stitches that army normally done and in new places. I wish I could see what this person did. There’s one lady who has great patterns and the awesome part is that If there are new or difficult instructions, she’ll make a short video showing that one specific part. I tossed in the towel on the hat 😦

  19. Hey Mikey,
    I have a comprehension disability. I can read something 100 times but I may not always understand what I am reading. I personally love when I learn a new pattern because it shows me that I am able to overcome what I fear the most failure to understand. Some patterns take forever to learn but then I enjoy making them over and over because I understand what I am doing, Extra added bonus is overcoming my “I can’t ” mentality. I can when I keep trying.

  20. Janice S. says:

    I’m like many who have commented. I just took crocheting back up after many years (since I was teenage now 56). Had horrible time with written instructions. Found your videos and wa-la I could do it! I also got idea to handwrite out pattern with each stitch on separate line or a group of stitches that were inside parentheses on one line. That helped a lot. I like two ideas others said…
    1. read it out loud. I’m not a big talker…very quiet. I even pray “in my head”. But it’s hard for me to stay on track when I pray or just think inside my head. My mind keeps changing subjects/chases rabbits. So I’ve tried praying out loud (having a verbal conversation with God) and I can talk to Him and stay on track. I haven’t tried that with a pattern yet but will give it a try.

    2. figure out what story the pattern is telling. I love to read books and read everyday especially before bed. I learned to study the Bible by learning to look for the who, what, when, where, why and how of the chapter. Could do that with a pattern. Also remember what the punctuation mark means such as a comma. It means to pause so remember to pause and do what you just read. A period means to stop. So stop what you’re doing because you’re going to do something different. The parentheses tell you…now we’re going to do a group of things.

    We all learn different ways. I’m sticking with patterns that have videos for now. But I’m also going to try the suggestions given here to see if they’ll help.

    You taught me Tunisian crochet and I’m wowing myself and others with the Dr. Who scarf I’m making! And Mike, I had a lightbulb-lifechanging moment yesterday because of crochet. I now know I am creative. You are a part of the reason I was able to learn that! Thank you!

    Thank you too for being transparent about things you struggle with. When I hear that from a teacher/fellow human I am encouraged that I’m not alone in my struggle and helps me keep trying.

  21. Alethia Douglass says:

    I have a pattern that I figured out had a mistake. I had to rip out several times till it was finished on one particular row. I wrote down the change, so I thought. When I went to do the pattern again, I was in shock to find the changes I wrote did not come out. I tried again many times but could not fix the problem. I looked on line and even called the company with no success. I have put it away for the time being. I just can’t visualize what the stitches should be. So after I do other series of patterns I will pick it up again and try.. Imagination and trying again again will help to succeed.

    • Marsha Lipsius says:

      I find that a lot of people try to read through the whole pattern at once. That is way too much info. I find it much easier, if I just read each step at a time. I don’t try to figure out how it will work 5 steps ahead. Someone else mentioned a magnetic board and ruler. They work really well, to keep you in the right spot. Or, if you photocopy the pattern, mark off each step as you do it. It slows you down, but if it’s repetition, you’ll soon catch on and not need the pattern. Good luck to everyone, you all have great ideas.

  22. I find that a well written pattern is easy to follow. If the pattern isn’t understandable after a couple of attempts, I will give up on it. I am completely thrown when it comes to reading charts or diagrams. I will consult YouTube videos foe help on occasion.

  23. Joan K. Davis says:

    Highlight the commas…put a ruler (I use a magnet board with a long thin magnet) under the line your are working on. Or, read thru each row several times and then draw a pattern. You have many different super great suggestions above…I tried to simplify mine so it would be easier for you to read. Love that you shared this with all of us…

  24. Joy Abiog says:

    I prefer to follow instructions on my own first, and keep at it until I get it, or so, i think. My thought process is such that part of the project is reading and understanding the pattern, and I feel a sense of accomplishment if I am able to convert a bunch of words (or letters) into a finished product. But that’s just me.

    Do I use video tutorials? Of course! Life is complicated enough as it is… but if there’s none available, it wouldn’t stop me from trying.

  25. JCG1224 says:

    When I am having trouble figuring out a pattern I take the time to hand write it out, but I write it down the page and not across the page as we normally read. For some reason it is easier for me to keep up with that way. I also simplify the patterns, rather then it reading something like, dc in the next st, dc in the next st, and dc in the next st. I write dc in the next 3 sts. Means the same thing, but makes it easier to keep track of for me. What ever it takes.

    I love the tutorials however, they make learning a new pattern so much quicker. Thanks Mikey, please keep them coming.

  26. Mary Berdan says:

    You just gave me a great idea Mikey! Can’t say what out loud but I’ll whisper it to you! It’ll take a little research to start but WOW! Is it ever banging to get out of my head!!!

  27. Maurnice Ambrose says:

    I am a knitter, but love to crochet as it is much faster. I can’t crochet some of the things I see because it is hard for me to comprehend crochet patterns. I love the video tutorials because I can follow along. I don’t have a solution to Mikey’s problem but I understand!

  28. Angela says:

    Mikey, do you think that your mind may be getting ahead of your hands? Or your eyes are jumping ahead? I prefer to read a pattern while I have the hook and yarn in my hands and work as I read. Viewing a chart is also very helpful, but, wasn’t easy for me when I first started seeing them. When I started crocheting there were no charts, just written patterns.

  29. Elaine says:

    I usually have no problem with reading and understanding a pattern. I have found a few that I found mistakes(large) and so I became stuck.
    But now I usually can find a video on YouTube that gets me through the written mistake area on the pattern so I can finish a project
    I do have trouble following a diagram because I was never shown how. I guess I am a visual person. I do prefer your videos over others because you show the piece you are working as you go.

  30. Linda says:

    I read the instruction and then read them again
    and find new meaning in them. Strange how a set of words can
    Change in ones mind. I try one way and question myself
    And usually start over using second mind version. Sometimes
    The first was correct and other times its the second.
    So i try out the stiches using scrap yarn to see what i should do and
    Write it out in linda language that i understand
    Then i go to town on the item with the hood yarn
    Very time consuming so i like your videos so no questions in my
    Mind on how to do the project correctly

  31. jannetferanz says:

    There used to be two magazines that were really great for crocheters. One was called Magic of Crochet and the other Decorative Crochet. They showed a drawn diagram close up that was very clear on the stitches. I hate that they are no longer in production.

  32. Carla says:

    I can usually follow a pattern ok, though like you I find that the visuals really help and I too have had rip stuff out because I mis-interpreted the pattern. I try to read through the pattern first to ser if “get it”, cause sometimes things are overcomplicated in a pattern, like they’ll write out the stitches stitch for stitch longer than needed. When this is the case I “‘re-write” it in my own lingo!! LOL. My geometrically struggles with reading a pattern so she’ll always get me to have a look at it first and explain it to her or write it out for her. Like you Money, she picks up much quicker from watching someone

  33. That is why I LOVED the Magic of Crochet magazines and the World of Crochet (I think), that showed close ups of the drawn diagrams of doileys….sure made it easy to get through a project. Hate that they discontinued them.

  34. Natishia Curry says:

    I’m sorry somany people have trouble with written instructions, I often help people with the instructions. It’s very easy for me. But there are plenty if patterns out there that have instructions that are not clear or are missing information.

  35. Kelly says:

    I have always had an issue with reading patterns. I would stick with the same old FEW stitches I knew. UNTIL I stumbled across The Crochet Crowd. What a blessing! I’ve been able to expand my repertoire, if you will. Because of your awesome-sauce videos I am learning new stitches/techniques. And am loving the challenge of trying new afghans. That being said, because of the videos I now understand a lot more pattern information and can, so far, get through one if it’s fairly basic.
    I also have to re-write the pattern so I “get it”. Breaking it down into bit by bit, section by section. I write down the segments. For example:
    14 dc, skip 2 st
    *15 dc, 2 dc in next stitch
    Each little part on their own line. I dunno, lol. It helps me.
    A HUGE thank you for the videos and your continuing support and assistance to all of us with our hooking habits. 🙂

  36. i like on your videos where you say yarn over, et al, see, thats as much as i remember off top of my head, i have issues like this, so i repeat what you say, when im doing it, and THAT really helps – thank you Mikey

  37. Mama Via says:

    I just cannot read a “pattern”…I’ve crocheted hundreds of items…ALL FILET…because I CAN read a “CHART”…I’ve tried, time and time again, and I feel like I’m reading a foreign language…(from another PLANET). While I DO recognize SC, DC, etc, I just can’t get straight in my mind what I’m supposed to do, where, how often and when to stop doing it!!! This just isn’t right!! How can this be? I was on the Dean’s List in college!!! I have the same mental challenge learning Spanish–I managed to FAIL 4 years of high school, 2 years of college AND I grew up in San Diego, a major Spanish-speaking region!!!..I’ve memorized enough Spanish to say “One more beer!” And “Where is the bathroom?” Just like I’ve memorized “Chain 142” (or was that “chain 412”?)anything more than that, and I’m LOST!!! So, I prefer a CHARTED design…I’m going to try one more time and let you all hold my hand…

  38. Patricia says:

    Hi Mikey, you are not alone, I get confused with the written instructions also, I need to see how the pattern works, maybe is because I am new to this, but you have help me a lot with your videos. I also check other bloggers like Moogly and Attic 24 who have great pics and detailed instructions on how to do patterns. I am a visual/do learner and I apply that concept to everything, in my job when I learn something new or teach someone I use screen shots to clarify.

  39. Robin Cooper says:

    I am 48 years old with Dyslexia and written patterns are a nightmare. For years I could only make Granny Squares because It was the only pattern that my Mother had taught me as a teenager. I gave up on Crochet until the last six months. I was up surfing You-Tube when I noticed that one of the video’s was on how to Crochet a hat. From there I have developed a new love for the art. Crochet to me is just that, Art! Every project that I have see is just amazing. I am learning new stitches and how to create new works of Art all on my own due to all the amazing people like Mikey that have posted video instructions! God bless each and every one of you for your time, effort and encouragements. I know that people thank you guys all the time but for someone like me who may never be able to really read a pattern I am especially thankful. Next to spell check and auto correct, You-Tube instructors are the best thing since sliced bread.( Yes I am a Good Ol’ Southerner).

  40. Becky says:

    I have crocheted for 45-50 years and patterns sometimes still confuse me. When it does I look at it as a puzzle until I can find and answer. I have greatly enlarged my stitch repertoire since discovering you, Mikey, on you tube. Thank-you, for teaching an old dog new tricks. 😉

  41. There are no “limitations” only different ways of doing things. I love videos because I have a degenerative brain disease that makes retention and learning impossible. With video I can go back over and over again. It’s how I taught myself how to crochet. I usually work from written patterns, but sometimes they are jabber-wok or I’ve forgotten a stitch and Yea! for video!

  42. Ashleigh says:

    My challenge is with picture tutorials. For some reason, my brain just can’t comprehend the pictures alongside the written words. Written patterns, I have no trouble with, but I do have to resort to YouTube if a stitch confuses me.

  43. Charlene Jennings says:

    My problem with patterns is that I do not crochet in the standard way. I work from the back instead of through the front. I have to modify some more complex stitches to get the same result. We all have our hang-ups and do what we can to work with them.

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