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Crocheting Across the Pond: US vs UK Terms

I remember the first time I tried to make a pattern that was written using UK instead of US crochet terms... It didn't work out well. Because I didn't know it was any different!

It was heart-breaking.

I got about halfway through what eventually turned out to be the most adorable little baby sweater made with a fancy little offset wave pattern of graduated stitches... when I realized that it was NOT looking right at all.

And so I had to frog it.

And it was BOUCLE yarn! In three colors!!!

Heartbreaking, y'all. Truly so.

But somehow I did eventually figure out what was going on and how to proceed. (It did turn out lovely in the end!) The problem wasn't just that it wasn't immediately apparent that the patterns were written in UK terms.

The problem was also that I didn't even know it was something that I should look for.

And it caused SO much confusion! Not to mention the time wasted or frustration of frogging BOUCLE yarn. Did I mention that it was boucle? Have you ever tried to frog boucle yarn???

What. A. Mess.

Now, of course, I do know. But I still had a heck of a time converting my pattern into UK terms for Moorit magazine! (Psst, go peep their home page - Slice of Life is right up there at the top, y'all! Eeek!!!)

These days it tends to be easier to tell if a pattern is written in US or UK terms - every pattern I upload to Ravelry, for example, is marked as written in US terms. I also recently added this info to the description on my Etsy pattern listings. Which is extra important now that I have a pattern published in UK terms! I would never wish the sort of confusion I had so many years ago on someone else. So I thought I'd put together a quick quide on UK to US crochet term conversions for you.

Here are the essentials:

UK double crochet = US single crochet

UK treble crochet = US double crochet

UK half treble crochet = US half double crochet

UK double treble crochet = US treble crochet

Those are the four basic stitches, right?

Another major difference is for post stitches:

UK raised treble front = US front post double crochet

UK raised treble back = US back post double crochet

So they're telling you up front that it's a post stitch, right? It's raised away from the rest of the fabric. I get that. I can appreciate that.

But after a number of years that shall remain undisclosed of crocheting in US terms? It still confuses the hell out of me sometimes!

If I were working on a pattern written in UK terms? You best believe I'd write it out for myself in a way that made it easier for me to follow along without having to think too hard about it! (That's actually a great tip for beginner crochet students who are still trying to decipher this new language they're learning.)

Although Moorit does include a conversion chart with their abbreviations! (Page 73 of the Sweet Shop issue if you're looking for it.) They also make note at the top of the page for each pattern that UK crochet terms are used throughout, which I SO appreciate! Another quick tip for you, though? If you see single crochet (sc) or half double crochet (hdc) written somewhere in your instructions, then you know the pattern is written in US terms! These stitch names are not used at all in UK terminology. Something else you may see with patterns written in UK terms is that instead of giving you "gauge" measurements, you may see "tension" instead. I also sometimes see "miss" instead of "skip" but I don't actually know if that's a UK thing or not!

Remember that these conversions will apply to other variations of the stitches, too. For example, fpsc (front post single crochet) in US terms would be RdcF (raised double front) in UK terms. Or sc2tog (a sc decrease) in US terms would be dc2tog in UK terms. Although you probably won't find decreases written this way in any of my patterns. It's just an abbreviation that I find potentially confusing, especially for beginner crocheters.

The descriptions of yarn weights can also vary quite a bit across different countries, so be sure to pay close attention when you're making yarn substitutions. You may want to check out this excellent yarn conversion chart from Laughing Hens to learn more about it. For example, you might see chunky yarn instead of bulky yarn, or 4 ply instead of fingering weight yarn.

Although I think naming different yarn weights after ply counts is outdated and misleading... I mean, I used a single ply fingering weight yarn for my last sample of Slice of Life and that, clearly, as a SINGLES base, was not a 4 ply yarn! But perhaps that's a rant for another day. Regardless of whether the pattern you're following is written in US or UK terms, though, you should always check the abbreviations, special stitches, and notes sections to make sure that you're on the same page as the designer before you begin. Don't be like me and get halfway through a project before realizing it can't possibly fit a baby like that... Then it's a trip to the frog pond!

(Oh and that colorful pile of yarn spaghetti? Despite the state it's in at the moment this photo was taken, it's shaping up to be a beautiful little project that's scheduled to debut at my old local yarn shop Yarn Matters for the James River Yarn Crawl! I'd love for you to join in!!)

So how about it? Did YOU know about the differences between US and UK crochet terms? When was the first time you encountered a pattern written in UK terms? Or are you already a UK terms crocheter and patterns written in US terms drive you batty??

Comment below and share your stories!



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