Dear “Wooly Wendy”
I’m a a crotchety crocheter indeed. I’ve been looking round the interweb and have found lots of crochet lessons and patterns but they don’t make much sense to me. My crochet skills might be a tad…. well ok quite a bit….. rusty but since when has a treble stitch been worked like a double crochet? And my local knitting shop say they don’t sell sportweight or fingering yarn… well its actually the wool section of the local sell it all shop, but you’d think they’d have a bit of a clue. After all the wools are sorted into 4ply, DK and chunky and they do buy the stuff in after all… but even the manageress had no idea whatsoever!
So I’m sat at home with a beautiful pattern and no idea what to do with it! And don’t get me started on hooks – that blooming common market taking over meant our lovely size 8’s became 4mm whatever that is when its at home! And now it looks like they’ve changed it all again!!! Letters my dear! I’ve been through all Mother’s old hooks and she never had ones with letters on in her day either. So I have no idea what to do!
Of course the video lesson thing was taught by an American – and they have some daft ideas, but I like them as they still knit in feet and inches, instead of all them cms things. I know we’re meant to be metric and all that but knitting and crochet were around long before all this metric nonsense….
Can you help please!!
Whilst the letter above is entirely fictitious, its based on many things I’ve heard said at knitting groups, crochet classes, on buses and in shops.As a tutor my ears are finely tuned to the “confusions” of all yarn lovers, all I need to do is hear the words “wool” needles” hook” “pattern” “knitting” or “crochet” and I start sureptitiously eavesdropping…. naughty I know but it helps me to plan lessons and workshops!
The key things that come from Mrs B’s letter as sources of confusion are:
- Yarn Weights
- Hook Size
- Terminology and Stitch Types
So I’ve designed the charts to below for my students to help them along, and have shared them in PDF form too: UK and US Crochet Terms.
To avoid confusion totally, it is possible to choose a UK only search on Google when looking for tutorial and free patterns, but whycut yourself off from a wealth of beautiful crochet patterns when using them takes a bit of translation.When teaching total beginners, however I do strongly suggest they stick to UK only sites until they feel confident in working the stitches and reading patterns. However there are many who come along to beginners classes having tried to follow online tutorials and learned American stitches. Whilst its not a major problem, it does take a bit of “unlearning” to get to grips with the UK terms.
And as Mrs B says, many people do not have a dedicated yarn shop on their local high street but might have a yarn section in a local hardware or discount buys shop. It really depends on whether the staff have an interest in knitting and crochet as to the level of help they can give you, so taking a US pattern in, might not get you the help you need, whether you want to purchase a specific yarn weight or hook size.
But don’t let this put you off! Once you understand the differences, its possible to pick up a pattern from “over the pond” and go for it!
UK and US Crochet Terms
It is possible to use US crochet patterns but in order to do so, its important to understand the differences in terminology and abbreviations
|UK Term||UK Abbreviation||US Term||US Abbreviation|
|Single Crochet / Slip Stitch||Sc / ss||Slip stitch||ss|
|Double Crochet||dc||Single crochet||sc|
|Half treble||Htr||Half double crochet||hdc|
|UK / Australian Term||US Term|
|1 ply / lace weight||Lace weight|
|2 / 3ply||Baby / fingering|
|DK / 8ply||Worsted weight|
|Aran / 10ply||Fisherman / medium|
|Chunky / 12ply||bulky|
|2.00 mm||1||14||5.00 mm||8/ H||6|
|2.25 mm||1 / B||13||5.50 mm||9 / I||5|
|2.50 mm||0||12||6.00 mm||10 / J||4|
|2.75 mm||C||11||6.50 mm||101/2 / K||3|
|3.00 mm –||00||11||7.00 mm||No equiv size||2|
|3.25 mm||D||10||8.00 mm||No equiv size||0|
|3.50 mm||4/ E||9||9.00 mm||15 / N||00|
|3.75 mm||F||9||10.00 mm||P||000|
|4.00 mm||6||8||12.00mm||No equiv size||No equiv size|
|4.25 mm||G||8||15mm||No equiv size||No equiv size|
|4.50 mm||7||7||15.75 /16 mm||Q||No equiv size|
Other Hints and Tips
1. Copy – Write – Read!
When I first started working from US patterns, I used to sit down with a pen a paper and write the pattern out again using UK terms. Then I would read it back to myself aloud. This is a learning method that helps us retain information far more efficiently than simply reading in our heads or making notes.
2. Keep Checking
Try and use patterns with a picture on the front! Not all internet pattern writers have a photo of the finished article. But with a picture you can check back and make sure your work looks the same as the original.
3. Always check your tension
US pattern writers refer to tension as “gauge”. There are slight differences in yarn weights and hook sizes, so its beneficial to check the tension, just to make sure that the closest UK equivalent will still be at the right size when you’ve completed your work.
When you first start using US patterns, mistakes can and probably will happen, don’t get too stressed about it! Remember you’re learning a new skill, just like you are when you learn a new stitch, so be gentle with yourself and make it an enjoyable experience!