Does the Beginning Chain Count as a Stitch?

I get emails all the time asking for pattern help. One of the questions I hear the most is, “How do I know if the beginning chain is included in the stitch count?” – or similar versions of the same question. I can’t give you a simple “yes, you count it” or “no, do not include it in your stitch count.” However, I can offer you a way to figure it out based on the stitches being used.


Do You Count Beg Chain as a Stitch? - Some simple ways to decipher what the designer is thinking.


When to Count the Beginning Chain


“Do I count the beginning chain of each row in the stitch count?” This question seems like it should have a simple yes or no response, but it doesn’t and here’s why.

First and foremost, every designer writes there patterns differently. If it’s not listed one way or another in the pattern all you can do is use your best educated guess. The second reason it’s hard to make it a simple yes or no is because a lot of times it might be based on the stitch being used and not necessarily the pattern. So how do you know? Below is a basic breakdown of whether or not to count the chain as part of the stitch count.


Beginning Chain Breakdown


The general consensus with patterns is “not unless it tells you to” but I have found that isn’t always the case and there’s more to it than that. For instance, take a square/afghan type project. Looking at the 4 basic crochet stitches I would make these assumptions.

  • Ch 1 – Almost never. I would say this one is the easiest to figure out. For all the tech editing I do for publishers and designers, the only time a ch 1 is ever counted as a stitch is if it actually says to count it.
  • Ch 2 – About 50/50. Ch 2 is primarily used at the beginning of a hdc row/round. From my experience it is counted as a stitch about 50% of the time. If it doesn’t say I would assume it would fall under the “not unless it tells you to” rule.
  • Ch 3 – Yes, it normally counts as dc. Not all designers say it, but I think it’s assumed to count it, especially at the beginning of a row.
  • Ch 4 – Yes, it normally counts as treble. Again, I think it’s assumed to count it unless otherwise noted, especially at the beginning of a row.


Now here’s the catch. This isn’t 100% all the time. It’s a best guess for a pattern that doesn’t say either way. I’m going off “majority rule” for what I have seen in my experience with publishers and indie designers. Just use your best judgement, and maybe even try to contact the designer to verify if you’re still unsure.

If you need stitch tutorials, please visit my Stitch Guide for more help.


Happy Crocheting!

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Exploring Color Changes in Yarn

*This post contains affiliate links, which means that I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you) if you subscribe or purchase something through the links provided. Please note: I will never become an affiliate partner for a product or service that I don’t use and love! Not all links are affiliates.


Color….it’s what makes our yarns pretty. But do you ever find yourself confused with the terminology that is used when color changes are referenced? There are terms like ombre and variegated that have been around forever. (While they are two very different things some people still use the two interchangeably.) Then there are newer terms popping up like chromatic.

While none of these terms will likely stop you from using or buying a new crochet pattern (or yarn), having them compared may bring some clarity and make it easier to know when and where to use them.


Exploring the terminology used when yarn changes colors.

Exploring Color Changes


I decided to break down only terms that reference color changes. It’s funny (ironic funny), the thing that almost all of these have in common is that when you look them up, the color definition isn’t the first thing they refer to. But for the sake of this post, I’m only going to go over the definitions where they reference color changes in our yarns.

Colorway – I started with this specifically, because in essence it means “any of a range of combinations of colors in which a style or design is available.” Basically, you’ll see something to the effect of “available in these colorways.” It’s just letting you know the color(s) that a specific yarn is available in.

Two common terms that I hear confused often are ombre vs variegated. These are not interchangeable and mean 2 totally different things.

Ombre means having tones of color that shade into each other, graduating from light to dark. Terms like gradient and shaded will also be used. Example: black, to grey, to white.

Variegated means varied in appearance by adding different colors. Yarn will have streaks, spots, stripes, or patches of different colors. In essence, yarn that changes colors completely. Example: Yarn that changes from pink, to teal, to white.


Ombre vs Variegated - Red Heart With Love Yarns

Ombre vs Variegated – Red Heart With Love Yarns


Gradient – is used when there is a temperature (color) change. It usually refers to yarn with subtle changes – like the 5 different shades of grey I used with my Gray Skies Gradient Shawl.


Gray Skies Gradient Shawl - $4.50 crochet pattern by Ambassador Crochet

Gray Skies Gradient Shawl


Graduated – The term graduated – in terms of color – is similar to gradient. They both gradually change. But the more research I did, the more I realized that graduated can change the scale more drastically. So basically through enough change it could change white to red (using pink) etc. So while they may be able to be used interchangeably in some instances, graduated refers to a larger scale of change.

Chromatic – I’ve seen this reference floating around recently and decided to see exactly what it refers to. Here’s the thing…. it just relates to color in general. – pertaining to color or colors.
Merriam-Webster: a. of or relating to color or color phenomena or sensations; b. highly colored
The Free Dictionary – a. relating to colors or color; b. relating to color perceived to have a saturation greater than zero.

I finally looked up “chroma.” The definition is: a quality of color combining hue and saturation. My take….I think this term is/can be used for any yarn with bright, variegated, color changes or striping.


Are there other terms that have you confused or wondering what they’re referring to?


Happy Crocheting!

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How to Choose the Right Pattern Rating

Did you ever look at a pattern and just fall in love with it?? I’m pretty sure you have. But how do you know whether you’ll be able to tackle the pattern and make it look exactly like the picture – without losing your mind? The generic answer . . . you don’t. But, buy using the pattern rating system from the Craft Yarn Council, there are some ways to get a better understanding of the pattern and whether or not you should give it a try. While nothing is fool-proof, there are some industry standards that are worth considering.


How to choose the right pattern rating based on your crochet skills and experience.


Choosing the Right Pattern Rating
for your Skill Level



With so many patterns available to crocheters, it may be hard to know which ones will be perfect for you and which ones will frustrate you.  To avoid some of the frustration that may happen while working your next project, make sure you are using a pattern that is based on your specific skill level.

The guidelines below give you a loose idea of how a pattern is rated.


Pattern Ratings - How do you know what skill level you should be working for your next crochet project. Check out these quick tips.
Projects for first time crocheters using basic stitches. Minimal shaping.


Pattern Ratings - How do you know what skill level you should be working for your next crochet project. Check out these quick tips.

Projects using yarn with basic stitches, repetitive stitch patterns, simple color changes, and simple shaping and finishing.



Pattern Ratings - How do you know what skill level you should be working for your next crochet project. Check out these quick tips.
Projects using a variety of techniques, such as basic lace patterns or color patterns, mid-level shaping and finishing.


Pattern Ratings - How do you know what skill level you should be working for your next crochet project. Check out these quick tips.Projects with intricate stitch patterns, techniques and dimension, such as non-repeating patterns, multi-color techniques, fine threads, small hooks, detailed shaping and refined finishing.

Source: Craft Yarn Council’s

While beginner patterns are great for everyone, you may not try an experienced pattern for months, possibly even years. As you build your skills, knowledge, and overall experience you will be able to work your way up the difficulty ladder.

So how do you know what rating you’re at? If you can do all of the requirements listed in one of the ratings above, then that would be the level you’d be at, and you may be ready to at least give the next level a try. If you can one or two of them, make sure you’re comfortable with the patterns at that rating level before giving the next level a try.

I’m one of those people who loves a challenge. The harder something is, or the more I’m told it can’t be done, the more determined I become to figure it out and accomplish it. But that has both good and bad sides to it . . . especially when it comes to crochet patterns. You don’t want to frustrate yourself because you don’t want to end up giving up and not trying that intermediate or experienced pattern the next time. If you think you’re ready to try an advanced pattern, check out this blog post for some tips on How to Tackle an Advanced Crochet Pattern.


Happy Designing!

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Tackle Advanced Crochet Patterns in 3 Easy Steps

We’ve all seen them….. those gorgeous crochet patterns that you just have to make. Then you notice that it’s marked “advanced”.  At this point you have 2 choices. Keep looking for something else, or try to tackle it. I know from experience that if you love the pattern enough you won’t be able to get it out of your mind! But do you love it enough to give it a try? Now may be the time…

If you haven’t been crocheting for long your first choice may be to move on and keep searching. Please reconsider! Now, I’m not saying every level of crocheter should tackle an advanced pattern. But there comes a point in time where you need to stretch yourself beyond what you’ve tried in the past.


How to Tackle Advanced Crochet Patterns in 3 Easy Steps


How to Tackle Advanced Crochet Patterns


in 3 Easy Steps


1) Read through the pattern – I can’t tell you how many times I haven’t done this. I used to just skip right over this step. Just do it! It’s amazing what may jump off the page at you. You may notice that the pattern only has stitches that you already know and they’re just combined uniquely. Or you may realize that even though it’s a new stitch, the pattern repeat is only a few stitches so once you get the pattern down it won’t be so bad. This may be the step that can convince you to give it a try.

2) Gauge swatch – If the pattern has a gauge swatch it, make it. Period. End of story. I won’t go into all the reasons why gauge swatch’s are important – that’s what the postIs Crochet Gauge Important? was written for. In terms of advanced patterns, it will help you decide if you can tackle the pattern on a larger scale.

3) Have Confidence – This is the most important step! (It’s also my Word for the Year) You need to believe that you can do it. If you don’t believe you can, then either you won’t try or you’ll be setting yourself up for failure.

You may not be able to make it today, or tomorrow, or even next week but if you keep trying you will eventually be able to do them.

How do you tackle that advanced pattern?

Happy Crocheting!

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List of Crochet Abbreviations

Here is a list of the most common crochet term abbreviations, but by no means is it a complete list.


alt – alternate(ing)

approx. – approximetely


beg – beginning

blo – back loop only

BPdc – Back Post double crochet

BPsc – back post single crochet

BPtr – back post treble crochet


CC – Contrasting Color

ch – chain

cl – cluster

cont – continue


dbl – double

dbl tr – double treble

dtr – double treble

dc – double crochet

dc2tog – double crochet 2 together

dec – decrease


ea – each

edc – extended double crochet

esc – extended single crochet


flo – front loop only

foll – follow(ing)

FPdc – Front Post double crochet

FPsc – front post single crochet

FPtr – front post treble crochet


grp – group


hdc – half double crochet

hk – hook


inc – increase

incl – include/including


lp(s) – loop(s)


MC – Main Color

md – meaning round (basically the round you’re on)

mds – meaning rounds


oz – ounces


pc – popcorn

pm – place marker

prev – previous


rem – remaining

rep – repeat

rev – reverse

rnd(s) – round(s)

RS – right side

rsc – reverse single crochet (also know as the crab stitch)


sc – single crochet

sc2tog – single crochet 2 together

sk – skip

sl st – slip stitch

sp(s) – space(s)

st(s) – stitch(es)


tch – turning chain

tog – together

tr – treble (some now call it triple)

tr tr – triple treble


ufo – un-finished objects


WS – wrong side


x-st – cross stitch


yo – yarn over

yoh – yarn over hook


If you’re looking for one that you don’t see, just let me know and I can add it.


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Crochet Conversion Chart

I thought it would be a good reference to post a conversion chart for common crochet terms.  The UK & the US use the same stitches, but we each call them something different.  Here are the most common stitches.






single crochet (sc)

double crochet (dc)

double crochet (dc)

treble (tr)

half double crochet (hdc)

half treble (htr)

triple crochet (trc)

double treble (dtr)

slip stitch (sl st)

slip stitch (sl st)



All of my patterns are written in US terms.  So, (for my UK crocheters) if my pattern states SC, you will crochet what you consider a DC.  Make sense?  If you have any questions, or need help, just ask.


Happy Crocheting! 

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How to Fix a Tilting or Twisting Granny Square

>Have you ever made a granny afghan, and at some point in the process it starts to look “tilted” or “twisted”?  The picture below shows this gorgeous afghan from Thornberry.  If you look closely it has a slight tilt to the center of the square.  This may not bother some, and personally I think this afghan is gorgeous, but it may drive other crocheters nuts. 

Granny afghan from Thornberry
Here’s an example from

If you’re one of those who does not want your granny square to do this, here’s a simple solution.  Turn your work after every row.  Ex: Rows 1, 3, and 5 will be right side rows.  Rows 2, 4, and 6 will be wrong side rows.  Try it out and see if it works.  The other benefit to turning your work is that there will technically no longer be a right side and a wrong side to your work.

Of course, there are some who are intentionally trying for the tilted look.  That’s a totally different post, because there is actually a pattern to create that look!

Happy Crocheting!

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Getting Your Motif to Lay Flat

Tips for How to Get Your Motif to Lay Flat


Getting Your Motif to Lay Flat

When crocheting, if your shape keeps ruffling and will not lay flat, here are a couple of tips: (try them in this order)

  • First, check to make sure you don’t have too many increases in each round. (Counting stitches is always a good idea to make sure you’re on track.)
  • If your stitch count is good, try a smaller hook size. This will help each stitch take up less space, which will result in less (or hopefully no) ruffling or waving of the motif.
  • If those didn’t work, try a taller stitch (Example: Work an extended sc in place of sc – or extended dc instead of your regular dc.)

For the motif below I had to do both. I went down a hook size and I did an extended stitch.

When your crochet project won't lay flat it can be frustrating! Here are some tips on how you can get it to cooperate and look good.
This was BEFORE I made the changes. 
I didn’t finish it because it was ruffling and I knew it would never lay flat. I tried going down a hook size but it was still rippling. So, I used the smaller hook size and I replaced the regular stitch with an extended stitch. The combination of the two worked.
When your crochet project won't lay flat it can be frustrating! Here are some tips on how you can get it to cooperate and look good.
By getting your shape as flat as possible in the beginning it will help not only when you block the piece, but also with the finished product.
Happy Crocheting!
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