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Glossary of Knitting Terminology

By: Roxanne McDonald - Updated: 27 Apr 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. 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
I am knitting a usa pattern . Croc linersand it says K6,wrap St, turn
Jacquie - 14-Nov-16 @ 10:37 AM
Hello, I am making vintage gentleman's golf stockings and I come across the term raise (knit5, purl2, knit5, purl2, raise and knit 1, purl 2 etc..) It is mentioned in alternate rows. Does anybody knows what it means .. Thank you
Little tailoress - 30-Sep-16 @ 10:40 PM
Abbreviations wyif and wyib cannot find meanings. Old pattern
Zue - 27-Aug-16 @ 6:38 PM
Sue - Your Question:
Just bought a sock pattern using 5 needles to start using two of the do a doubles cast on I have never come across this before please help

Our Response:
Can you tell us what the instruction say exactly? The above sentence doesn't really make sense.
CraftExpert - 5-Aug-16 @ 2:04 PM
Just bought a sock pattern using 5 needles to start using two of the do a doubles cast on I have never come across this before please help
Sue - 4-Aug-16 @ 5:15 PM
After reading this it is quite obvious that the knitting world needs to unite and standardize knitting abbreviations, terms,and pattern writing.The above list is all well and good, but these are the more simplistic ones.I find UK patterns to be very wordy and with terms I've never heard before.These are probably terms that have been here since the beginning of the art of knitting.I believe it is time to change some of these as they only detract from the enjoymentof the knitting and frustrate many beginners. I want my students to be able to use both US and UK patterns with equal enjoyment.I would also like to see larger pictures on the opening pattern page rather thantaking the time out to enlarge on the computer each time I want to see if I am heading in the right direction. This would be especially helpful with multi patterned items such as the lacy sundress and hat.I am working on this pattern now and it is just lovely.
Don't have one - 13-Jun-16 @ 9:12 PM
Glo - Your Question:
I am knitting a UK pattern and have come across a term I am unfamiliar with - P1, (p1,yon,K1tbl) into next st, p1. It is the "into next st" which is confusing me as it is outside the bracket. At the end of this row I should have doubled the number of sts from 67 to 133. Could this mean into the next st below?

Our Response:
The into the next stitch is simply making you don't drop the p1 off the needle - ie you're doing it all into the next stitch. So:
p1 - purl the next stitch on the needle, but do not drop it off
yon - take the yarn over the needle (to the back)
k1- knit one stitch through the backloop
So you've effectively done p1,yon,k1 tbl in the next stitch.
Difficult to explain but hope you get the gist!
CraftExpert - 17-May-16 @ 11:41 AM
I am knitting a UK pattern and have come across a term I am unfamiliar with - P1, (p1,yon,K1tbl) into next st, p1. It is the "into next st" which is confusing me as it is outside the bracket. At the end of this row I should have doubled the number of sts from 67 to 133. Could this mean into the next st below?
Glo - 14-May-16 @ 1:19 PM
Knitting Esq - Your Question:
I purchased a knitting pattern that is using UK terminology, but I am only familiar with patterns written in the US. This is one of the most beautiful patterns and I am committed to completing the project. I have come to a point in the instructions where I don't understand what I should do. It states "Pattern 23 turn and leave remaining stitches on a spare needle". Could someone please explain this to me - in particular, what does it mean to "Pattern 23"? Thank you!

Our Response:
It probably means work 23 stitches in the pattern then place your remaining stitches on a needle and continuing working the pattern on the existing 23 stitches.
CraftExpert - 28-Jan-16 @ 2:44 PM
I purchased a knitting pattern that is using UK terminology, but I am only familiar with patterns written in the US. This is one of the most beautiful patterns and I am committed to completing the project.I have come to a point in the instructions where I don't understand what I should do. It states "Pattern 23 turn and leave remaining stitches on a spare needle".Could someone please explain this to me - in particular, what does it mean to "Pattern 23"? Thank you!
Knitting Esq - 28-Jan-16 @ 5:30 AM
Memmy - Your Question:
Hello can anyone tell me the following means: WS:PO (1: 0: 1: 0:)I know WS means wrong side but do not know what the rest means I'm knitting a Rowan Calmer Collection. Appreciate all answers.Thank you

Our Response:
We're not sure but it could mean pass over (eg. miss a stitch or skip a stitch)purl zero then the figures in brackets might refer to the different sizes - so with some sizes you purl zero (eg miss a stitch) or with others you simply purl one. Doesn't sound an entirely plausible description. Does anyone else know?
CraftExpert - 26-Jan-16 @ 9:52 AM
Hello can anyone tell me the following means:WS:PO (1: 0: 1: 0:) I know WS means wrong side but do not know what the rest means I'm knitting a Rowan Calmer Collection. Appreciate all answers. Thank you
Memmy - 24-Jan-16 @ 12:50 AM
Vanda - Your Question:
I'm knitting with 'Best in Show' and I've come across an abbreviation that I'm not sure of and its called 'bs'. It tells me. 'With bs, cast on 1st, with RS facing K6 from spare needle of Right Front Leg, cast on 6 sts. (13 sts).Would anyone be able to help me with what bs means please.Many thanks Vanda x

Our Response:
BS can refer to bead stitch, butterfly stitch or berry stitch but in this case it may mean back slip - where you drop the stitch of the needle to the front or back of the work then knit or purl a stitch, then pick up the dropped stitch and knit or purl it.
CraftExpert - 4-Jan-16 @ 10:39 AM
I'm knitting with 'Best in Show' and I've come across an abbreviation that I'm not sure of and its called 'bs'. It tells me... 'With bs, cast on 1st, with RS facing K6 from spare needle of Right Front Leg, cast on 6 sts. (13 sts). Would anyone be able to help me with what bs means please. Many thanks Vanda x
Vanda - 1-Jan-16 @ 5:19 PM
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