Reading Vintage and UK patterns

By Erin Burger – 6 Comments

I was recently bestowed with a large number of family and family accumulated patterns, mostly handwritten and mostly impossible to decipher. I have shared some of these patterns in previous posts, The Starburst Throw, Star Washcloths in Two Sizes and the Giant Granny Square Blanket with Clusters.

Reading and figuring out these patterns has been both wonderful and enraging at times; some of it is hard to read because of age and some of it takes a lot of deciphering due to language and abbreviation barriers. I became aware during the process that in some cases the patterns were written using UK abbreviations and then I realized why I had been so confused! Here is a quick chart to familiarize you with the differences.

UK abbreviation US abbreviation
sc sl st
dc sc
htr hdc
tr dc
ttr dtr
miss skip

The other big difference in deciphering very old handwritten patterns is that most of them are extremely vague. Using common sense and a general knowledge of crocheting terms and abbreviations is a big help! Check out the crochet abbreviation chart for help with abbreviations and symbols.

I had come across a lot of afghan patterns, being that crocheting is a medium perfect for making both simple, moderate and difficult types of afghans and these were the instructions for a ‘Carriage Afghan’:

‘Making a chain of over 100, use a moss stitch.
turning in every row until finished’

Sheesh, thanks for all the specifics, great great grandaunt! Although it’s fairly obvious what one is meant to do in this pattern, there is no gauge, no yarn weight recommendation, no indication to ch 2 before the turn for every row!

Finding and reinventing an old pattern, or one that uses different abbreviations, is as well worth the effort as cleaning and cutting a dirty diamond. Look out for these gems at flea markets, at garage sales or in your grandmother’s hope chest!

Need help deciphering an old pattern? Ask for help here!

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  1. SoSaje says:

    Thank you for working at this decoding puzzle!! I can imagine it’s something like translating from runes of some ancient language. 🙂 I’ve really enjoyed the new/vintage patterns though. ‘Skeens’ are already set aside for a starburst baby blanket, and I’m looking forward to trying the star washcloths as well. I’m totally enjoying this series of posts! Thanks for sharing it!! 🙂

  2. Peggy in Pittsburgh says:

    I just ran into the UK abbreviation for half double crochet in a pattern book I just bought. Fortunately the book included a good list of abbreviations. I will check for the others, the sc meaning slip stitch in particular. Whew.

  3. Teena says:

    There is no sc in UK crochet.

    UK sl st is the same as US sl st.

    I know, I’m Australian and we use UK crochet here, but I also read US crochet of course, due to all the free patterns on the net.

  4. aravis09 says:

    Does anyone know what a pattern means when it says “dc in next 0 (0,1) st”? I’m confused about the “0 (0,1)” part!

    • Rachel Choi says:

      I looks like it is instructions for different sizes. 0 (0, 1) would be 3 sizes. The first 0 outside of the ( ) is the first size, the second 0 is for the second size, and the 1 is for third size. So depending on which size you are working on you will do 0 or 1 dc.

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