An abbreviated graph is pretty much what it sounds like; an abbreviated version of the larger, complete graph. It’s used when a pattern is made up of smaller patterns that repeat over and over again. Think of it like song lyrics. The lyrics for the chorus of “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers can be written out like this:
“And I know it’s gonna be a lovely day, lovely day, lovely day, lovely day, lovely day, lovely day, lovely day, lovely day, lovely day, lovely day, lovely day, lovely day, lovely day, lovely day, lovely day, lovely day”
Or it can be written like this:
“And I know it’s gonna be a / (lovely day) x 16”
Which would you rather follow along with? It’s a pretty easy choice, right? In the same way, repetitive patterns can be hard to follow along with when looking at the whole thing. Abbreviated patterns fix this by isolating the repeating part of the pattern and making it easier to read.
While not always necessary, using an abbreviated graph can aid you in completing patterns that are confusing or easy to get lost in. Making them only takes a little time but saves you a lot of time when it comes time to actually crochet our piece. So let’s get to it!
Step 1: Choose the pattern you want to use. You can either graph your own pattern or use one that’s already made. If you want to graph your own pattern but don’t know how, check out my posts about how to graph round or flat patterns. If you already have a pattern graphed out, continue on to step 2.
This is the original image for the graph I’ll be making:
Here’s the graphed version of the image:
Step 2: Choose any point on the graph. This starting point will be the first point on your abbreviated graph. You can choose any random point, but it’s best to choose one that is easy to distinguish and relocate.
My starting point is at the lower right-hand corner of a boxy T shape. I chose that as my starting point because the boxy T shape is easy to pick out from the rest of the pattern. (I cropped out the T shape I’m talking about just to make sure we’re all on the same page 🙂 ) Choosing a good starting point makes it easier to carry out the following steps.
Step 3: Find out how many stitches across it takes to complete your pattern. First, look at your starting point, then find the nearest matching point in the same round. You know that it’s a matching point when it’s the same point (lower right-hand corner) of the same shape (the boxy T shape).
Beginning with the starting point, count how many points it takes to get to the matching point, but do not count the matching point.
In this example, the pattern is made of 10 stitches across from the starting point to the matching point.
Step 4: Find out how many rounds it takes to complete your pattern. Beginning once again with your starting point, find the nearest matching point in another round (either above or below the round where your starting point it located). The matching point will be on the same diagonal line as the starting point.
Beginning with the round where the starting point it located, count the rounds, not including the round with the matching point.
This pattern takes 20 rounds to complete.
Step 5: Now that you know how many stitches and rounds it takes to complete your pattern, you can create the graph, which you’ll fill out in step 6. You can use graph paper if you have it. If you don’t, any type of paper will do. You’ll just have to jot out a graph if you’re using plain paper. In my example, the pattern is 10 stitches across and 20 rounds tall. This is what my graph looks like before I fill it in. (I used circles instead of squares just because it’s easier to do it that way with the software I use.)
Step 6: The final step is to fill in the graph. The first square you’ll fill in is the square all the way at the bottom and to the right. The last square will be all the way at the top and to the left. So you fill in the graph from bottom to top and from right to left. Since you’re basically just transposing the pattern from the full graph to the abbreviated graph, you don’t really have to do it this way. However, I do recommend it since that’s how crochet patterns are normally read. It just helps to keep you in the crocheting mindset.
Before I start graphing, I usually like to outline the section that I’ll be graphing. Doing this makes it easier to see where to start and where to end.
Notice that the lines go around the starting point (the rod dot) but intersect the matching points (the purple dots). If you drew the lines going around the matching points instead of intersecting them, your abbreviated pattern would include some of the same stitches twice (once and the beginning and then again at the end. Think back to the lyrics example. I start with this: “lovely day, lovely day, lovely day, lovely day” and I want to shorten it. I wouldn’t want to shorten it to this: “(lovely day, lovely) X 4” because that would give me “lovely day, lovely / lovely day, lovely / lovely day, lovely / lovely day, lovely.” The same thing would happen when you start crocheting if you include the matching points in the abbreviated graph.
After I outline it, I usually like to get rid of everything else around it, just to make it super easy to read. I usually graph with a pencil and paper. In that case, I just fold the paper around the lines so that all I can see is the isolated pattern. In this case however, I use technology (AKA befunky.com, an awesome free photo editing site) to get the job done:
Important point! You could definitely just stop here and use this as your abbreviate graph. But if you’re like me and the slant throws you off, follow along a little longer to find out how to wrap this up.
Find the point that you designated as your starting point in step 2 (still red in the picture above). Fill in the first square in the graph to correspond with the color of that first stitch. In my pattern, the first stitch is black (well, technically red, but that’s only for visual purposes). For the second square, look to the point directly left of the starting point. Remember that you go from bottom to top and from right to left. The point to the left of my starting point is also black, so make the second square of your graph black. Continue this to the end of the round. This is what the first round of my abbreviated graph looks like:
See how it correlates with the original graph?
When you’ve filled out all the squares in the first row, move to the next row and repeat the process. Continue to fill in the squares in the same way until you’ve filled in every square of your graph. One last tip is that it’s helpful to number both your original graph (like you saw a few pictures above) and your abbreviated graph to make sure that you haven’t skipped a line.
Your abbreviated graph is complete! That’s one more tool to throw in your tapestry crochet toolbox 😀 If you have any questions or uncertainties, ask away in the comments below and I would be more than glad to clarify. Happy crocheting!