Cracking Crochet Code

Betty Knew Code

Did you know that there’s a crochet code? It’s been hiding in plain view. The more time I spend in the world of crochet, the more I realize that crochet patterns have many similarities to code.

As with any programming language, you first need to know the terminology. What’s a sc? How do I sk 2? What does dc2tog mean?

These stitches are what you use to build your pattern. For example, you can use a basic starting chain (ch) and single crochet (sc) to create an effect like this:

crochet code single crochet example in red bulky wool

Or you can use the same starting chain (ch), double crochet (dc) and skip (sk) to create an effect like this. Straight double crochet is on the bottom, while the top two rows use a double crochet, chain, and a skip to put a space between them.

crochet code double crochet example in red chunky wool

The Craft Yarn Council lists all of the definitions needed to get started with crochet, or when you stumble across a lesser-used stitch in a new pattern.

Building Functions in Crochet Code

But you can also use these building blocks to create functions in your code. This lacy shawl was created for my Nana’s 95th birthday in 2013. It’s seen its better days — it was machine washed and dried at the nursing home, flattening the loft of the wool — but it’s a sentimental favorite and a great example of a function.

crochet code example of clustered repeat functions in crochet

See the clusters? You can create a function called “cluster” that repeats in your pattern. First, you define your cluster. In this case, it’s 4 dc, ch 2, dc . Later in your pattern, you can insert “cluster” into your pattern. For example: *cluster in ch 2 space, ch 2**

In crochet, the asterisks serve like brackets in programming. What happens between the * and the ** is repeated across the row, as you build layer upon layer.

As I realize this, it’s no wonder why so many of my colleagues in technical communication are avid knitters and crocheters. This is what we do, day in, day out. But it fascinates me to think that my grandmother would have been able to understand functions if I’d put them in crochet terms.

Do you work with yarn, either in knit or crochet?

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2 Responses

  1. Michael Wright says:

    I interviewed Alisa at Maker Faire where she describes similarities of crochet and computer coding. Also benefits of crochet and knitting.

  2. Alisa says:

    It was great to meet you. Thanks for taking the time to interview me!

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