Abbreviations in Crochet

Abbreviations are great. They help us to write more quickly without causing eye strain to our readers. Abbreviations can help convey complex crochet moves in a concise way. But, too many abbreviations can get repetitive and annoying. The biggest and best abbreviation advice I can pass on (and it did not originate with me) is:

Not all things that can be abbreviated need to be abbreviated.

You got that? Just because you can write rep for repeat, or nxt for next, doesn’t mean you always need to do it. First of all, how much of an abbreviation is nxt? You’re only eliminating one letter.

When choosing your abbreviations, think about how it is improving your reading experience. Is the term used so frequently that it is taking up vital page space? Is the term used only once or twice?

BOR = Beginning of round. If you frequently refer back to the beginning of the round, then adding BOR to your abbreviations might make sense. But if you only use it the one time when you say “Place SM at BOR” and you never use it again, it would have been better to just write it out.

Your abbreviations list is telling the reader “Learn these because they’re important and I’m going to be using them a lot, you need to know these to understand my pattern.” If you go through the effort of teaching the reader that BOR means Beginning of Round, and then you only use it once, what was the point?

What should you always include? The basics. Ch, dc, sc, tr, st.

Past that, think about how often you’re using it in your pattern combined with the full length of your pattern.

Even something as big as a blanket might not require a ton of abbreviations.

Ch 80 (100, 120)

Row 1: Starting in third ch from hook, dc in each stitch across.

Row 2: Ch 1, sc in each st across.

Row 3: Ch 2, dc in each st across.

Repeat rows 2-3 to desired length.

I could easily have written:

Chain 80 (100, 120)

Row 1: Starting in third chain from hook, double crochet in each stitch across.

Row 2: Chain 1, single crochet in each stitch across.

Row 3: Chain 2, double crochet in each stitch across.

Repeat rows 2-3 to desired length.

How much did the pattern change? As a technical editor, if I find that you use an abbreviation only once or twice, I’m going to advise that you write out the word.

What abbreviations do I use? I recommend following the Craft Yarn Council list of abbreviations for crochet. The last thing we need is someone creating their own abbreviation for a commonly used term. But remember, just because something IS abbreviated on that list does not mean that you must abbreviate it in your pattern.

Now, do you want a more concise version of this blog post to always remind you of how and when to abbreviate? Check out my new mini course on teachable for ABBREVIATIONS. For only $5 you can get a couple of worksheets to remind you if the abbreviation is really needed or not. Plus, I have info on there for when you need to create a new abbreviation.

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