British vs. American Crochet Terms: What’s the Difference?

Let’s say you find a vintage crochet pattern for an awesome bag. You follow the pattern, stitch by stitch, but the resulting bag is off, somehow. Where did things go wrong? Surprise! You were working from a pattern written with British crochet terms.

This can happen a lot now that the Internet provides access to crochet patterns from around the world. Understanding how the two styles of pattern writing match up can save you some heartache in the future.

Knitting basics on Bluprint

Craftsy instructor Kim Werker teaching the fundamentals of crochet in her online class Crochet: Basics & Beyond

What’s the same?

A chain stitch is a chain stitch. Phew! Isn’t that a relief? American and British crochet terms also use the same slip stitch. No need to worry about translating that, either!

What’s different?

As I mentioned earlier, it’s not just the stitches that are known by different names. Often, you’ll see terms that you may not be familiar with. Crocheters following the British terms, for instance, may not be familiar with the term “gauge” while American crocheters will be confused by the term “tension.”

The stitches are an entirely different issue. Here’s one way you can try to remember the difference between American and British terms for stitches:¬†British stitches are one step up from American stitches. So for example, the American single crochet is the same as the British double crochet. The American double crochet is the same as the British treble crochet.

Of course, trying to think of the stitches in this way can get mighty confusing when you’re faced with an entire pattern. Next time you crochet a pattern from a designer that doesn’t use the same terms that you are familiar with, bookmark this handy chart and you’ll never be lost.

American Crochet British Crochet
Single crochet Double crochet
Half double crochet Half treble crochet
Double crochet Treble crochet
Treble crochet Double treble crochet
Double treble crochet Triple treble crochet
Gauge Tension
Skip Miss

How to know which terms your pattern uses:

Here on Craftsy, most designers are kind enough to note whether they’re using American or British terms in the pattern. Some Craftsy designers even offer more than one version of the pattern to accommodate different crocheters.

But sometimes the origin of the pattern may not be clear. One way to tell if it’s an American pattern is to look for single crochet. British terms don’t use single crochet at all, so if you see single crochet used in the pattern, it’s likely written in American crochet terms.

If you don’t see single crochet anywhere, check out other wording in the pattern. Does the pattern ask you to miss stitches instead of skipping them? If so, that’s a good indication that it’s British. Does the pattern refer to gauge as tension? That’s another clue that it could be British.

Tips for successful translating:

If you’ve determined that the pattern uses a set of terms you’re not familiar with, you’ll need to translate them.

If you can’t seem to translate the terms in your head, print the pattern and simply make the changes with a pencil or pen. Mark through any double crochets and change them to single crochets. You can also simply keep charts like the one above handy.

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