As bad as the knitting stitch?name problem is, crocheters have it much worse. Not only are there no crochet pattern books as authoritative and comprehensive as the Walker series on knitting (the Harmony series of paperbacks is nice, but doesn’t have Walker’s cachet), the basic vocabulary of written? crochet patterns is different depending on their place of origin.

Anyone in the US who has tried to crochet from a British Sirdar pattern has run into this problem; as have?UK/European?residents?who have picked up patterns issued in North America. Still, it’s amazing how many crocheters run afoul of the term problem, even though it’s widely known. Here’s the challenge. Terms that differ are shown in red below:

US/Canadian Term


Chain Chain
Slip Stitch Single Crochet
Single Crochet Double Crochet
Double Crochet Treble Crochet
Half-Double Crochet Half Treble Crochet
Treble/Triple Crochet Double Treble Crochet
Double Treble/Triple Crochet Triple Treble Crochet
Triple Treble/Triple Crochet Quadruble Treble Crochet
Quadruple Treble/Triple Crochet Quintuple Crochet
Quintuple Treble/Triple Crochet Sextuple Treble Crochet
Yarn Over Yarn On/Over Hook

Now. How can you tell which system of terms a pattern is using?

Clues abound. Aside from the obvious – looking for a copyright statement or publisher’s address, or just plain knowing that Sirdar uses UK notation, and Classic Elite uses US terms – you can look for these things:

  • Metric vs. Imperial units. If sizing and measurements?throughout?are given in Imperial only, unless the pattern dates from the ’50s, chances are that it’s using the US system of notation. If it’s metric only, it’s worth looking closer to make your determination because it well may be using the UK system. If both systems of measerement are used – it’s a toss-up. I’d suspect most likely it’s using the US system, but I’d look closer anyway.
  • Telltale terms:? The terms "tension," "fasten off," and "miss" are UK usage. The equivalent US terms are "gauge"? "cast or bind off," and "skip."??
  • Very few US patterns use the term "treble crochet."? Those that do tend to be pre 1970s. If I see the word "treble" and not "triple" and those monster long double triple and above variants aren’t used, I suspect UK notation and check deeper.
  • General spelling. The "u" in "Colour" isn’t a dead give-away for UK origin, but it is a clue that should make you look more closely. The pattern might be Canadian, in which case it might use North American/US notation.
  • Yarn weights. Most US-origin patterns use the yarn weight descriptors "fingering, sport, worsted," etc. Most UK,?Australian,?and Euro patterns use terms like "3-ply, 4-ply,?Jumper weight, 8-ply."? Be careful however of double knitting (DK). That can go either way.
  • Hook size descriptors. If it uses a letter only to describe hook size (A-N), you’ve got a US pattern. However hook sizes themselves are far from standard among makers, and most contemporary patterns include a metric size in addition to the letter. (Side hint:? ALWAYS go by the metric size, not the arbitrary letter or number size name.)
  • Visual inspection. LOOK at any photos or illustrations that accompany the pattern. Look at your standard?single or double crochet. Does the photo make sense?

I don’t have very many crochet pattens on my shelves, otherwise I’d make a table of what makers use which notation. Sirdar I’ve already mentioned. I suspect Rowan uses UK notation, but I don’t know if they print up separate editions using US/Canadian notation for distribution in North America. Patons is a problem because notation in Patons North America patterns may be different from that in Patons Australia patterns.

If you’ve used a crochet pattern recently and have determined which of the two nomenclatures it uses, please feel free to report on that fact by leaving a comment to this note. I’ll compile the responses and post a follow-up table here in the future.

2 responses

  1. Hey, K: Rowan uses the UK notation. To the best of my knowledge, they don’t issue separate editions, however they provided (ex post facto) a brief insert to Rowan 35. This issue featured several crochet patterns, as well as instructions on crochet. If you didn’t receive the insert, you’d be out of luck, since there was no mention of the difference in terminology in the magazine itself.

    Thanks for the wonderful info on your blog!

  2. UK terms count how many loops you have on the hook.
    US terms count how many times you hook the yarn thru the loop.
    What also helps are the international stitch chart symbols. Some people like these better than the written instructions. I sometimes have difficulty interpreting them by looking at them, so I’ll write out what I see.

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