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Glossary of Knitting Terminology

By: Roxanne McDonald - Updated: 8 Aug 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]
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
none - Your Question:
Hi I want to make a baby cover for the crib and there is one stitch that I don't know what it means. it is either yfrn or yfrm. I hope you can help me.thanks very much. helen banman.

Our Response:
It's usually used for increasing stitiches and is YFRN, which means Yarn Forward Round Needle or sometimes it's referred to as Yarn Front Round Needle. Instead of knitting into your next stitch, wind the yarn once around the needle (right hand needle) and then knit as normal into the next stitch on the left needle. You'll have an extra loop/stitch on your right needle so the total number of stitches has increased. Sometimes, it's simply to make a decorative pattern and therefore not increasing the number of stitches. In this case, you would do the same thing, but you knit the next two stitches together toavoid increasing the total number of stitches.
CraftExpert - 28-Mar-17 @ 11:57 AM
hi I want to make a baby coverfor the criband there is one stitch that I don't know what it means. it is either yfrnor yfrm.I hopeyou can help me. thanks very much. helen banman.
none - 27-Mar-17 @ 4:32 AM
Minxi - Your Question:
Hi I'm attempting to knit some booties but I'm stuck. Can some one please tell me what WORK rows 27-30 means please Size XS[S,M,L] work Rows27-30[23-28,19-26,15- 24]only.(32[36,40,44,]sts Thanks

Our Response:
Do you have the information before and after this set of instructions. There should be a main pattern, possibly a chart. If you're knitting size XS, you knit rows 27 to 30 in the chart/pattern. If you're knitting size S, you knit rows 23 to 28 of the chart/pattern etc.
CraftExpert - 14-Mar-17 @ 11:45 AM
Hi I'm attempting to knit some booties but I'm stuck. Can some one please tell me what WORK rows 27-30 means please Size XS[S,M,L] work Rows27-30[23-28,19-26,15- 24]only.(32[36,40,44,]sts Thanks
Minxi - 12-Mar-17 @ 12:48 AM
The pattern is British. It says "pattern 2 stitches" and then to "pattern" various numbers of stitches throughout. I have no idea what this means and am completely stuck. Please help.
Dlisapat - 4-Mar-17 @ 8:27 PM
Knitting some tiny Teddies from an American pattern and don't understand B&T. Can you help. Many thanks
Marg - 10-Feb-17 @ 11:21 AM
Trudy - Your Question:
Can anyone tell me what yon means in a pattern to me it's yarn over needle but I can't see how that will work the whole row is k3, k2tog, yon, k5, yon, k3, sl 1, psso, k3. Please help

Our Response:
It is usuallyto create some kind of "shaping" to the garment
CraftExpert - 7-Feb-17 @ 12:56 PM
Can anyone tell me what yon means in a pattern to me it's yarn over needle but I can't see how that will work the whole row is k3, k2tog,yon, k5, yon, k3, sl 1, psso, k3.Please help
Trudy - 6-Feb-17 @ 3:06 PM
My pattern says I have to knit 2 then knit 8 repeat to end what does this mean
Bella - 28-Dec-16 @ 9:28 PM
My pattern has 49 stitches cast on.After 4 rows of garter stitch, it says: - continue 2 stitches in garter stitch, 45 in stockinette stitch and 2 stitches in garter stitch. Does this mean: - K x 2 K x1, P x 1, K x 1 etc until 45 stitches are done K x 2 thanks!
Maggies - 26-Dec-16 @ 11:04 AM
Jacquie - Your Question:
I am knitting a usa pattern. Croc liners and it says K6,wrap St, turn

Our Response:
This is a common instruction in sock patterns and is often used at the heel to create the shape. The wrap and turn helps prevent holes at the sides where you've turned the knitting before completing the row. Here's how it works:
* Knit the stitch
*Slip the next stitch as if to purl
*Bring the yarn to the front of the work and slip the stitch back onto the left hand needle
*The wrap effectively covers the stitch from the previous row
CraftExpert - 15-Nov-16 @ 2:00 PM
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  • Wendy
    Re: Glossary of Knitting Terminology
    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…
    8 August 2017
  • CraftExpert
    Re: Glossary of Knitting Terminology
    Kay - Your Question:Hi please can anyone help me I am making baby shawl the pattern states1st row knit working iNto back of…
    31 July 2017
  • Kay
    Re: Glossary of Knitting Terminology
    Hi please can anyone help me I am making baby shawl the pattern states 1st row knit working iNto back of stitches Yon,…
    28 July 2017
  • CraftExpert
    Re: Glossary of Knitting Terminology
    Trish - Your Question:What does ** mean at the beginning of a row when knitting?Our Response:The
    20 June 2017
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  • Trish
    Re: Glossary of Knitting Terminology
    What does ** mean at the beginning of a row when knitting?
    18 June 2017
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    I am from India. I made handmade cards and paintings and drawings I want to sell them..... please tell me some idea sell them...
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  • Bobbie
    Re: Glossary of Knitting Terminology
    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…
    1 June 2017
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    Re: Sell Your Home Made Cards
    Hi, I am making hand made card and wadding box I want to sell, them my cards how to start selling
    31 May 2017
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    Re: Glossary of Knitting Terminology
    Margie - Your Question:Hi I am trying to knit booties, I am stuck on the 2nd row which says : increase in next stitch, knit…
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