Same same but different
Did you know there are different names for the same type of crochet stitches and sizes of crochet hooks and wool?
Just like there is British English and American English, there are different versions of the same language for crochet.
What makes it extra confusing though is that the same words are used in both ‘languages’ but they have different meanings. For example, a single crochet (sc) stitch in an American pattern is called a double crochet (dc) in a British pattern, and a double crochet in U.S. terminology is the same stitch as a British treble (tr). Meanwhile an American treble is called a double treble (dtr) in England, but a double treble in the U.S. equals a British triple treble!
Phew! Is that confusing or what??
Where did the different crochet definitions come from?
Nobody really seems to know why the stitches have the names they do in each language. Theories include the terminology referring to the height of the stitch vs the number of loops on the hook, or the number of loops vs the number of movements needed to complete the stitch (meaning how many times you yarn over and pull through).
I used to think it seemed to be determined by whether you count the number of loops on your hook before inserting it or after.
In a US single crochet there’s only one loop on the hook before you insert it, in a US double crochet you yarn over once first so there are two loops on the hook before inserting, and in US treble stitch you yarn over twice before inserting the hook so there are three loops on the hook to start the stitch.
Personally I find this the easiest to remember for the range of stitches I regularly use: single crochet = 1 loop to start, double = 2 loops, treble = 3.
However, this only works for shorter stitches. Once you start getting into the taller stitches such as triple treble and quadruple treble, the UK names start to make more sense if you’re counting the number of loops on your hook before inserting.
Eg. UK treble treble (US double treble) = wrapping the yarn around 3 times before inserting the hook, UK quadruple treble (US triple treble) = wrapping 4 times, UK quintuple treble (US quadruple treble) = wrapping 5 times, and so on.
So then I thought the difference could be based on when you count the number of times you yarn over (yo) and pull the loop through. British terminology seems to count the total number of times you yarn over while U.S. terms seem to count only the number of times yarning over occurs after inserting the hook and pulling the first loop through.
Take the US single crochet / UK double crochet stitch for example:
US single crochet = insert hook, yarn over and pull up loop, yarn over and pull through both loops on hook (ie. pulling through the loops on the hook only once)
UK double crochet = insert hook, yarn over and pull up loop, yarn over and pull through both loops on hook (ie. yarning over twice in total).
Or look at another stitch, the US double crochet / UK treble:
US double crochet = yarn over, insert hook and pull up loop, yarn over and pull through first 2 loops, yarn over again and pull through remaining two loops on hook. (ie. pulling through the loops on the hook twice = US double)
UK treble crochet = yarn over, insert hook and pull up loop, yarn over and pull through first 2 loops, yarn over again and pull through remaining two loops on hook. (ie. yarning over three times = UK treble).
It’s the exact same stitch, just with the emphasis on difference actions in the same process (and hence possibly the source of the different names?).
What crochet language do Australians use?
Here in Australia, we tend to stick with the language from the motherland so apparently most Aussie patterns use British crochet terms. However, I seem to have learnt the American way (despite my go-to resource when first learning being the British publication ‘Mollie Makes’). That’s probably due to the abundance of free patterns and tutorials available online from the U.S. and Canada (thanks Pinterest!), but I did also find it easier to remember that a Single Crochet (sc) means you pull through the loops on the hook once, a Double Crochet (dc) means pulling through the loops on the hook twice, and so on.
Although I will concede that logically the UK terminology probably makes more sense and may make it easier to remember stitches where yarning over before pulling the first loop through is required? (Except for double treble – that’s just confusing!)
But there’s no wrong or right in this, just different. For pattern terminology anyway, not hook or wool size – time to join the rest of the world and adopt the metric system USA!
How to tell which crochet language your pattern is
Whichever system you choose to go by, just remember to check the terminology on each pattern before starting. I once got a fair way through a piece that wasn’t turning out very well before I realized it didn’t look right because I was using American stitches for a British pattern.
If you’re not sure which language a pattern is written in, the easiest way to tell is probably whether or not it uses Single Crochet. There is no such thing as single crochet in UK terminology (not anymore anyway – some say the slip stitch used to be called single crochet in UK terms), so if a pattern includes ‘sc’ it’s probably American. This will be a giveaway in amigurumi patterns as most amigurumi consists of almost all single crochet stitches.
What if your crochet pattern is in the ‘wrong’ language?
If you do find a pattern you like using the opposite crochet language to the one you’ve learnt, perhaps the easiest way to translate it is to remember that British stitches are one step up – or one size larger.
It’s also easy to find a comprehensive conversion chart online, but I’ve put together a basic guide to get you started, which you can find here.
Which crochet language do you use? Have you heard any other theories on how crochet stitches got their names? Let me know by leaving a comment below!