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Glossary of Knitting Terminology

By: Roxanne McDonald - Updated: 18 Nov 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Glossary Knitting Terminology Knitting

If you have ever heard an avid knitter speaking aloud to herself and saying something about “dropping a stitch” you may have wondered, “Is this a good or bad thing?” Likewise, as you prepare to start your own lifetime of knitting, you probably want to know what else is involved, what other knitting terms you need to know.

Below are a few of the most commonly used knitting terms found in patterns you will soon be tackling on your own!

Knitting Terms
Alternate - To work every other row.

Bind off - To close work by finishing with a final row—by knitting two stitches; slipping the first stitch over the second stitch; repeating with every two stitches until only one last stitch remains; and cutting yarn and looping it through the last stitch.

Cast on - To begin by creating the first stitch, or to add a stitch or stitches—by making a slip loop over left needle, placing right needle through the loop, passing yarn over and under right needle, drawing yarn through loop, and transferring loop to left needle.

Decrease - To work fewer stitches according to instructions for shaping a piece—most typically by a) knitting stitches together; or b) slipping a stitch and passing over the slipped stitch while knitting the following stitch.

Garter Stitch - A pattern using knit for every stitch and every row.

Increase - To work additional stitches according to instructions—most typically by a) creating two stitches from one stitch by knitting twice into the same stitch; b) creating two stitches from one stitch by purling twice into the same stitch; or c) using the right needle to pick up the yarn, place it on the left needle, and knit an additional stitch into the back of the new loop created.

Knit - The act, to knit, but also the most common stitch. In patterns, knit is abbreviated as K and is followed by the number of stitches needed: K4 = knit four stitches.

Make 1 (see increase) - To work additional stitches according to pattern directions—commonly performed to shape a piece; or to create a hole and extra stitch (for a lacy pattern), for example.

Moss Stitch - The alternating of one knit stitch and one purl stitch in every row.

Purl - The second most common stitch. Whereas in a knit stitch you put the right needle through the stitch from behind, in the purl stitch you place the right needle into the front of the left needle stitch.

Pass Slipped Stitch Over - The process includes slipping one stitch (transferring the next stitch from left needle to right needle); then knitting the following stitch (yarn under then over right needle and yarn pulled through); then slipping stitch off left needle—so that slipped stitch and knitted stitch are now on right needle. Finally, the slipped stitch is lifted up and over the knit stitch and off the right needle.

Repeat - To do the same step or stitch as just previously instructed. If the instructions read [repeat], do the same action as you just did in the [previous bracketed instruction] step.

Reverse Shaping - The act of working the second side of the piece’s shape at the opposite end from where it was worked for the first side. The process typically includes binding off.

Row - The completed series of stitches worked from one needle to the other, thereby making it time to transfer needles accordingly: from left hand needle in left hand to right hand, and right hand needle (with row) to left hand.

Selvage (or, selvedge) - Technically meaning raw edge of a piece—the edges that were the first and last rows of stitches.

Slip - To transfer a stitch from left needle to right needle without adding yarn.

Stocking Stitch - A stitch pattern made by alternating one row of knit and one row of purl throughout.

Through the Back of the Loop - The act of knitting (or purling) into the back of the loop on left needle, creating a twisted stitch.

Together - On a knitting row, the right needle (pointing left to right) works with the next two stitches (or number indicated) on the left needle, while the yarn is put under right needle, brought over the top, and pulled through both stitches at the same time; then the two stitches are dropped. On a purling row, the process is done in similar fashion but with purling actions—right needle is put through the front of left needle stitches; and yarn is brought over the top of right needle point.

Yarn Back - The action of putting front-sitting yarn to back, between the two needles.

Yarn Forward - The action of bringing back-sitting yarn to the front, under the right needle.

Yarn Front - The act of leaving the already front-sitting yarn at the front instead of moving it back for a back-sitting yarn stitch—an action which will instead create a loop or hole.

Yarn ‘Round Needle - The act of preceding the next stitch by wrapping yarn around the right needle point (yarn starting and finishing at back for a knit stitch, yarn starting and finishing at front for a purl stitch)—thereby creating a hole and an extra stitch.

Knitting Abbreviations
Alt. - alternate (verb)
Beg. - beginning
Cont. - continue
Dec. - decrease
Foll. - following
Folls. - follows
G. St. - garter stitch
Inc. - increase
Incl. - inclusive
K - knit
m1 - make one
M.St. - moss stitch
P - purl
Patt. - pattern
p.s.s.o. - pass slipped stitch over
Rep. - repeat
Sl. - slip
St. - stitch
St. St. - stocking stitch
Tbl. - through the back of the loop
Tog. - together
yb - yarn back
yfwd - yarn forward
yf - yarn front
yrn - yarn ‘round needle

Now that you have caught up on the basic knitting terminology, it’s time to put the techniques into action. Check out our other helpful articles for your next knitting adventures—whether they involve learning how to knit your very first piece or trying new knitting stitches.

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Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
I am struggling to understand the following in my pattern. This forms the second row of a foundation row. It says the following: p1. knit to next st and loop across st. can anyone help me please?
janel - 18-Nov-17 @ 10:40 PM
Gran Jean - Your Question:
I am attempting a teddy bear sweater from this week's Woman's Weekly. I've reached the sleeves part and don't understand "wrap1, turn" Explain please.

Our Response:
The wrap and turn is to help create shaping.Basically you stop knitting part way through a row, turn the knitting round and add a short row.This can leave a small gap when you go back (to knit the entire row) the Wrap 1 is to prevent that hold made by turning mid-row etc. How to wrap...slip next stitch on to your right needle, pull the yarn forward (assuming you're doing a knit stitch - reverse it if you're purling) then put the slipped stitch back onto the left needle. Take the yarn back to the position of the next stitch and turn to start knitting back down the short row.
CraftExpert - 13-Nov-17 @ 10:40 AM
I am attempting a teddy bear sweater from this week's Woman's Weekly. I've reached the sleeves part and don't understand "wrap1, turn" Explain please .
Gran Jean - 10-Nov-17 @ 8:34 AM
Elms - Your Question:
Hi I have a pattern which states"cross" but doesnt tell you what to do, can you help?

Our Response:
What are the other instructions along with "cross"? Sorry there's not enough information for us to help you on this as it is.
CraftExpert - 7-Nov-17 @ 10:02 AM
Hi i have a pattern which states"cross" but doesnt tell you what to do, can you help?
Elms - 1-Nov-17 @ 10:08 AM
lorna doswell - Your Question:
Please could you explain k2tog, yfwd, (k1tbl) 3 times, yfwd s1, k1psso. My main confusion is those in the bracket does mean an increase of 9 stitches

Our Response:
We're not sure. We think this is actually decreasing and should leave five stitches? You might have to ask someone local to you to have a look at this sorry.
CraftExpert - 24-Oct-17 @ 12:44 PM
Please could you explain k2tog, yfwd, (k1tbl) 3 times, yfwd s1, k1psso.My main confusion is those in the bracket does mean an increase of 9 stitches
lorna doswell - 23-Oct-17 @ 6:35 PM
Hello, I can’t seem to add it up. I have cast on 31 sts and continued to desired length. Next row: Patt to last 17 sts, cast off 1 st, patt 11, cast off 1 st, patt 2. Why can’t I make this one work? The next row is below. Next row: Patt 3, cast on 1 st, patt 12, cast on 1 st, patt to end. Please help me, I can’t continue without doing these button holes. Thank you!
Caryn - 16-Oct-17 @ 11:41 PM
Hi, I have a dilemma, the pattern I’m using, a James c Brett JB159. I’m stuck!Any help greatfully appreciated please: Back & Front lower edging Pick up and knit 48sts evenly along 10 shaped rows at lower edge, 82sts from cast on sts and 48sts evenly along 10 shaped rows at lower edge Sleeve edging is similar
Roz - 5-Oct-17 @ 9:04 PM
Josie - Your Question:
Need help in instruction for cuffed knitted slippers,deigned by Barber Breitr.Row 1: KRow 2:k7,p1,k29,p1,k7Row 3:k17,p1,k9,p1,k17Rep Rows 2 and 3 30 more times (16 ridges).BO 7 sets beg next 2 rows-31stsRep Rows 2 and 3 20 times, omitting first no last 7 sets of each row s witten (26total ridges)Question? After you BO 7 sts on first row(what do you do?) confused?.

Our Response:
Bind off 7 stitches at the beginning of first row (you'll have 7 stitches no longer on the needle "bound off"). Do the same at the beginning of the next row, leaving you with "bound off" sections of 7 stitches at either end of your knitting.
Then begin your pattern again, working rows 2 and 3, 20 times BUT ignore the first and last 7 stitches...so row 2 will be: p1,k29,p1 and row 3 will be k10,p1,k9,p1,k10.
Hope that helps.
CraftExpert - 18-Sep-17 @ 12:36 PM
Need help in instructionfor cuffed knitted slippers,deigned by Barber Breitr. Row 1: K Row 2:k7,p1,k29,p1,k7 Row 3:k17,p1,k9,p1,k17 Rep Rows 2 and 3 30 more times (16 ridges). BO 7 sets beg next 2 rows-31sts Rep Rows 2 and 3 20 times, omitting first no last 7 sets of each row s witten (26total ridges) Question? After you BO 7 sts on first row(what do you do?....) confused?..........
Josie - 15-Sep-17 @ 8:06 PM
Hi i have a question,i am knitting a cardigan have got to 5th row and it says pattern 15,do i pattern 15 from 1st row cos it says ...from 1st to 4th row sets st-st and zig zag pattern outside panel. Keeping continuity of st-st and zig zag pattern (throughout) proceed as follows to complete centre panels...5th row patt 15*k1,k2tog,yfwd,k1,yfwd,s1,k1,psso,k1,patt4,k27,patt4,rep from *to* once,patt 15,where do i get pattern stitches from.thanks for any help much appreciated
Wendy - 8-Aug-17 @ 2:06 PM
Kay - Your Question:
Hi please can anyone help me I am making baby shawl the pattern states1st row knit working iNto back of stitchesYon, *yfwd k2 rep from * to end This pattern continues until ive got to *yfwdk35 I should then have 288 stitches I have done this twice now and am nowhere near 288 stitches which means I am not increasing enough Am I missing something here please

Our Response:
How many stitches did you start with on your needle? The pattern you describe seems to be more for making an eyelet/lacy pattern rather than for increasing stitches.
CraftExpert - 31-Jul-17 @ 2:44 PM
Hi please can anyone help me I am making baby shawl the pattern states 1st row knit working iNto back of stitches Yon, *yfwd k2 rep from * to end This pattern continues until ive got to *yfwdk35 I should then have 288 stitches I have done this twice now and am nowhere near 288 stitches which means I am not increasing enough Am I missing something here please
Kay - 28-Jul-17 @ 4:47 PM
Trish - Your Question:
What does ** mean at the beginning of a row when knitting?

Our Response:
The astericks just indicate repeats of patterns - you'll most often see this when a pattern says "rep from *," (meaning go back to the asterisk and repeat that part of the pattern). Where there are two asterisks, e.g "rep from * to **" the pattern is repeats from the * to the **.
CraftExpert - 20-Jun-17 @ 2:25 PM
What does ** mean at the beginning of a row when knitting?
Trish - 18-Jun-17 @ 8:31 PM
I'm knitting an elephant the pattern tells me to slip the last 4 stitches onto the right hand needle then the next row tells me to cast off 4 stitches purlwise but my yarn is not at the beginning of the row how do I do this? I'm a new knitter so I'm sure there us an easy way but I don't understand it. Hope you can help Thank you
Bobbie - 1-Jun-17 @ 7:13 AM
Margie - Your Question:
Hi I am trying to knit booties, I am stuck on the 2nd row which says : increase in next stitch, knit 10, increase in next st ) twice knit 1 ?Hope you can help, thank you.

Our Response:
This means you knit into the front and back of the next stitch. Soknit into the stitch but instead of slipping it off the left needle, put right needle behind the left and knit into the back loop of the same stitch. When you slide the original stitch off, there will be 2 stitches on the right needle.
CraftExpert - 22-May-17 @ 12:49 PM
Hi I am trying to knit booties, I am stuck on the 2nd row which says : increase in next stitch, knit 10, increase in next st ) twice knit 1 ? Hope you can help, thank you.
Margie - 21-May-17 @ 1:33 PM
Caz - Your Question:
The pattern I am following says knit 37, turnWhat do I do with the remaining stitches on the needle

Our Response:
Because you are turning your work it's effectively facing you so the remaining stitches simply stay on your RH needle. Try doing a search for knit and turn on the Internet for some examples.
CraftExpert - 16-May-17 @ 2:45 PM
JJ - Your Question:
I have a pattern that states:Place marker each side of center 38 stitches.There are 98 stitches in the row.What does this mean? (I usually use UK patterns)Thank you

Our Response:
It means place a marker such as different coloured piece of wool tied loosely round the needle on each side of the middle38 stitches. So count 30 stitches then loop on a short length of alternative coloured wool (or a proper marker if you have them) then count 38 stitches and add another marker. You should have another 30 stitches remaining after the second marker. Your pattern will then probably tell you to do something different with the centre piece.
CraftExpert - 16-May-17 @ 11:01 AM
The pattern I am following says knit 37, turn What do I do with the remaining stitches on the needle
Caz - 16-May-17 @ 9:57 AM
I have a pattern that states: Place marker each side of center 38 stitches. There are 98 stitches in the row. What does this mean? (I usually use UK patterns) Thank you
JJ - 15-May-17 @ 3:42 AM
Decreases one stitch at each end. Gradient is sooooo unequal. what am I doing wrong, please. The row I'm decreasing on is purl. The other row is pattern.
Kate - 8-May-17 @ 2:43 PM
Kathleen Haworth - Your Question:
Hi. Knitting from a lister pattern 111. Just about to finish the front. Pattern states to knit as back until until *** reached. Do I include the row *** or leave it out. Can't make up my mind. Thanks!

Our Response:
We would normally exclude the *** row.
CraftExpert - 28-Apr-17 @ 2:43 PM
Hi. Knitting from a lister pattern 111. Just about to finish the front. Pattern states to knit as back until until *** reached.Do I include the row *** or leave it out. Can't make up my mind. Thanks!
Kathleen Haworth - 27-Apr-17 @ 4:48 PM
further to my previous question...perhaps this will be clearer: Beginning row: (K2,P2) 0 (0-1) times KO (3-4), PO (2-2), K4 (P2,K2) 3 times, K2, (P2,K4) twice etc
Judy - 21-Apr-17 @ 7:55 AM
I'm doing a jumper but the terminology is foreign to me. Example: KO or PO?? what is this. I haven't found any explanation. I know the K is knit and the P is purl...what does the O indicate?
Judy - 21-Apr-17 @ 6:35 AM
Glo - Your Question:
Hi what does wrap1, turn mean please

Our Response:
This is often used to reinforce a part of the pattern especially where shaping is required. Move the yarn from the back to the front between your needles. Slip next stitch from the left needle onto your right hand needle. Take theyarn from the front to the back (back between the needles) then slip the stitch back to the left hand needle. Turn your work and work back in the other direction. The next row pick up the yarn you wrapped when you reach it and work it together with stitch that it's wrapped around.
CraftExpert - 18-Apr-17 @ 10:42 AM
Hi what does wrap1, turn mean please
Glo - 15-Apr-17 @ 2:28 PM
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Latest Comments
  • janel
    Re: Glossary of Knitting Terminology
    I am struggling to understand the following in my pattern. This forms the second row of a foundation row. It says the…
    18 November 2017
  • CraftExpert
    Re: Glossary of Knitting Terminology
    Gran Jean - Your Question:I am attempting a teddy bear sweater from this week's Woman's Weekly. I've reached the sleeves part…
    13 November 2017
  • Gran Jean
    Re: Glossary of Knitting Terminology
    I am attempting a teddy bear sweater from this week's Woman's Weekly. I've reached the sleeves part and don't understand…
    10 November 2017
  • CraftExpert
    Re: Glossary of Knitting Terminology
    Elms - Your Question:Hi I have a pattern which states"cross" but doesnt tell you what to do, can you help?
    7 November 2017
  • Elms
    Re: Glossary of Knitting Terminology
    Hi i have a pattern which states"cross" but doesnt tell you what to do, can you help?
    1 November 2017
  • CraftExpert
    Re: Glossary of Knitting Terminology
    lorna doswell - Your Question:Please could you explain k2tog, yfwd, (k1tbl) 3 times, yfwd s1, k1psso. My main confusion is…
    24 October 2017
  • lorna doswell
    Re: Glossary of Knitting Terminology
    Please could you explain k2tog, yfwd, (k1tbl) 3 times, yfwd s1, k1psso. My main confusion is those in the bracket does mean…
    23 October 2017
  • Caryn
    Re: Glossary of Knitting Terminology
    Hello, I can’t seem to add it up. I have cast on 31 sts and continued to desired length. Next row: Patt to last 17 sts, cast…
    16 October 2017
  • Roz
    Re: Glossary of Knitting Terminology
    Hi, I have a dilemma, the pattern I’m using, a James c Brett JB159. I’m stuck! Any help greatfully appreciated…
    5 October 2017
  • CraftExpert
    Re: Sell Your Home Made Cards
    pri - Your Question:Sir I want to sell my quilling card online. please give me a idea about how I sell and which website?
    4 October 2017
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