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July 10th, 2013 at 12:22 pm

Crochet Skill Levels

This day started with a lively telephone conversation with a lovely lady wanting me to accept a pattern return. Her request was based because it required her to have skills she did not. Turns out she had a good case for why I should accept the return.

The Craft Yarn Council’s Yarn Standards for Crochet Skill levels is located at:

Skill levels have always seemed to be the red-haired step child and for Crochet, One almost needs to be a psychic to figure out what they mean.

Vague descriptions like “using basic stitches” without saying what basic stitches might be is useless.

Thankfully most publishers now make a point of listing the “Stitches Used” and maybe even some instructions – certainly for “special” or “pattern” stitches” – I am quite willing to pretty much go along with the CYC when it comes to using its Crochet Chart Symbols to define Basic Stitches (in you want to know more about where we part company, it is covered in the post for tomorrow BasicStitches-Crochet .

It is my controversial opinion, that IF the Pattern Author gives a SKILL level, and has made it clear what they mean, then it is not reasonable to expect them to change/rewrite a pattern to a lower skill level.

And, if they have failed to make clear what the crocheter must be able to do, then they need to fix their publication format. This is especially true if they self-publish downloadable PDFs.

I also think that beginner patterns should include more instruction (basic stitch illustrations) and thus might need to cost more for printed versions. Again, with Downloads, the printing costs are not a factor for the Pattern Author/Publisher. The Crocheter can choose which if any pages need to be printed out.

One of the reasons the onus is on the Pattern Author is because, in my cluttered mind, Skill level should be defining what you need to be able to do to complete a project that includes various techniques. This does not seem to be the case in the CYC Skill Level definions. And so far, the CYC does not. For example

    BEGINNER: CYC says: Projects for first time crocheters using basic stitches – minimal shaping.
    Instead I would submit that the BEGINNER Crocheter needs to know how to:

  • the SYMBOL and ABBREVIATION for each of the Basic Stitches as well as how to form/make these stitches.
  • Basic Stitches about include: ch, sl st, sc, hdc, dc, tc,
  • Basic Terminology includes: inc, dec, turn, join, rep and the symbols (if any) associated with them
  • Nominal finishing such as at least one method for adding yarn and weaving in ends should be a part of the New/Beginner Crochet Skill level
  • Along with Basic Pattern instructional abbreviations such as parenthesis, star/asterisks, daggers, and the symbols (if any associated with them)
    EASY CYC says: Projects using yarn with basic stitches, repetitive stitch patterns, simple color changes, and simple shaping and finishing.

  • I have long suspected the use of EASY was more about marketing than a level of competency.
    I think this would/could be better called “Advanced Beginner” and I find I have used “Enthusiastic or Adventurous Beginner” qute often, because it is someone who has become competent in the Beginner/Basics and want to add to those skills – still relatively simple, but building on the basics.
  • Using a repetitive stitch pattern is certainly one of the most important second step basic skills. Most, could easily accomplish this if they take the time to do an “in pattern” swatch using the “special stitches” or “pattern repeats” contained within the pattern. This swatch allows them to begin the muscle memory building and working out issues such as tension within the motif or repeat.
  • The SYMBOL and ABBREVIATION for each of the Basic Stitches, plus, the ability to read and insert a repetitive stitch pattern into a project (what the +# means in a stitch guide), Color changes (building on the adding yarn), simple shaping – someone needs to define shaping – what is minimal (I would say inc/dec) and what is simple – what additional skill/knowledge is needed. and finishing.
  • Finishing needs to be defined, I would say basic finishing need to include more than just weaving in ends. It might/should include adding edging – picking up stitches around the pieces that will be combined to finish the project. Easy finishing also should include some methods for putting the pieces.
    INTERMEDIATE CYC: Projects using a variety of techniques, such as basic lace patterns or color patterns, mid-level shaping and finishing.

  • Intermediate seems to imply that one is able to combine techniques in order to create different textures and appearance within a single project.
  • Mid-Level Techniques: particularly “in the round” and at least two of its variations – spiraling and stepping up. Anyone care to suggest some others that would fit here.
  • Mid-Level shaping – The only thing that comes to mind is perhaps some ‘entry’ level free forming or the use of a sewing pattern for overall shape but fitting various stitches or stitch motifs into the shape could certain take some intricate shaping.
  • Mid-Level Finishing – one word pops up immediately ZIPPERS & Button Plackets. Additionally perhaps including wet finishing, fulling, felting and other techniques that effect the texture and hand of the completed fabric.
    EXPERIENCED CYC: Projects with intricate stitch patterns, techniques and dimension, such as non-repeating patterns, multi-color techniques, fine threads, small hooks, detailed shaping and refined

  • Frankly, I find placing fine threads and small hooks to be unacceptable as only something that can/should be done by an “experienced” crocheter. Historically, fine thread crochet to make laces was really where it all started. Yes, it takes a true love of the craft to work small, but skill levels are still varied.
  • Moving on, once one has become competent and comfortable with all the skills need through the Intermediate level you are an experienced crochet and with care and thought should not be afraid to tackle any well written pattern.

Bottom line here, I really welcome and want to hear your ideas about Skill levels as I work toward including them in my Glossary aka/What Wheat MEANT when she said…..

Enjoy The Making


CAVEAT: I may not rule the universe, but I reserve the right to disagree, even when “overall” something is valuable. In some cases, my reasons for disagreeing with the Craft Yarn Council is its underwriters are, t quite rightfully, not historically as concerned with many of the qualities (kinds) of yarns most often offered by an independent retailer like me.

That they even attempted to create voluntary standards is certainly to their credit – You might rightfully as this point mention “Pots and Kettles” and oh yes, I do know an Expert is just a drip under pressure… so – always feel free to let me know – publically or privately where I need to fix something and if/why you disagree.

  • 1

    I’m guessing it’s probably a ‘given’, but those Beginners would benefit greatly if someone taught them the wealth of info that’s included on that yarn label they have right at their fingertips. How to interpret the yardage, choose the right hook or needles, dryclean/washer/dryer?, wool? acrylic?

    Amazes me how someone can make an entire afghan then ask if they can put it in the washer and dryer, didn’t that ever cross their mind somewhere along the way? Didn’t they ever look at the label?

    Hmmm, maybe this doesn’t fall into your ‘Skills’ category. Do you have one for Common Sense?

    Mattenylou on July 10th, 2013
  • 2

    I rarely pay attention to the skill level. There have been times where I have found patterns labeled easy/beginner difficult and difficult patterns easy. For me it has more to do with the way a pattern is written.

    I want to know before I purchase a pattern what stitches are used, gauge, construction techniques, and if instructions are written or charted.

    Margo on July 11th, 2013
  • 3

    What might be Easy for me might be Difficult for someone else.

    There is no solution to how to better inform people.

    I think the Designers/Authors do a decent job – and a lot of the onus must fall on the hands/brains of the person who wants to make the item purchased.

    Learning takes time – even if all the given stitches are those that I know.

    As much education should be given to pre-pregnant women — and men, as to what is involved in the cost and raising of a child BEFORE the deed is done.

    Marny CA on August 6th, 2013
  • 4

    really this is very helpful for me as I can do the pattern with easy level , but I were a little scared to start intermediate level , I didnt know to self analyse and now I know that I can start this level
    thanks for this elaboration

    mayura khare on January 22nd, 2014
  • 5

    Everything is very open with a precise explanation of the challenges.
    It was really informative. Your website is useful. Thank you for sharing!

    Marcella on May 8th, 2015


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