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Glossary of Knitting Terminology

By: Roxanne McDonald - Updated: 17 Jun 2018 | 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]
Taragosun - Your Question:
Can you please let me know what M means in the following baby jacket pattern. M st 6, k to last 6 sts, m st 6. Then the lace pattern commences as follows.M st 6, *k1, k2 tog, yfwd, k1 yfwd, sl 1, k1, psso, rep from * to last 7 sts, k1, m st 6. For the whole 8 rows of the pattern the m st 6 at the beginning and end of the row is repeated. Thank you.

Our Response:
Could it be moss stitch?
CraftExpert - 20-Jun-18 @ 3:31 PM
Can you please let me know what M means in the following baby jacket pattern. M st 6, k to last 6 sts, m st 6. Then the lace pattern commences as follows .. M st 6, *k1, k2 tog, yfwd, k1 yfwd, sl 1, k1, psso, rep from * to last 7 sts, k1, m st 6. For the whole 8 rows of the pattern the m st 6 at the beginning and end of the row is repeated. Thank you.
Taragosun - 17-Jun-18 @ 6:50 AM
Trisha - Your Question:
Yes it is a lacy bobble effect, but I have solved the problem by going to my wool shop for advice. The pattern was using an abbreviation within the abbreviation. It was meaning that: pearl 2, yarn around needle and pearl 2, Pass the yarn over these two stitches. it makes a lovely pattern.Thank you

Our Response:
Thanks for letting us know, sounds lovely.
CraftExpert - 11-May-18 @ 12:46 PM
Yes it is a lacy bobble effect, but I have solved the problem by going to my wool shop for advice. The pattern was using an abbreviation within the abbreviation. It was meaning that: pearl 2, yarn around needle and pearl 2, Pass the yarn over these two stitches. it makes a lovely pattern. Thank you
Trisha - 9-May-18 @ 10:12 PM
Trisha - Your Question:
I am knitting a cardigan for my new great granddaughter and am just trying to decipher the pattern meaning of : using C,p2 *Cr2,p2 repeat from * the abbreviation explanation says: Cr2 yarn,p2, pass yrn over 2 sts just worked.This pattern uses a main and contrast yarn and I do not understand what pass yarn over 2 stitches means. Can anyone help?

Our Response:
Does this pattern have lacy/hole effect?
CraftExpert - 9-May-18 @ 1:55 PM
I am knitting a cardigan for my new great granddaughter and am just trying to decipher the pattern meaning of : using C,p2 *Cr2,p2 repeat from * the abbreviation explanation says: Cr2 yarn,p2, pass yrn over 2 sts just worked. This pattern uses a main and contrast yarn and I do not understand what pass yarn over 2 stitches means. Can anyone help?
Trisha - 8-May-18 @ 7:10 PM
Gram - Your Question:
I do not understand the following instructions in a knitting pattern: for starting a neckline shaping - work 79 stitches (this I know what it means) standing off the next 43 stitches - does this mean put these stitches on stitch holder? Then "cross off" leftwise 3 stitches every 2 rows 12 times- I assume this means decrease stitches? Believe it or not I am an experienced knitter!

Our Response:
Sorry not a clue on the "cross off leftwise" instruction. Yes the "standing off" instruction probably means leave them on a stitch holder. This doesn't sound like a UK or a US pattern. Perhaps it's a translation?
CraftExpert - 1-May-18 @ 10:34 AM
I do not understand the following instructions in a knitting pattern: for starting a neckline shaping - work 79 stitches (this i know what it means) standing off the next 43 stitches - does this mean put these stitches on stitch holder? Then "cross off" leftwise 3 stitches every 2 rows 12 times- I assume this means decrease stitches? Believe it or not I am an experienced knitter!
Gram - 30-Apr-18 @ 3:33 AM
Confused - Your Question:
I am knitting a dress for my granddaughter and the pattern for yoke says. Cast on 30 sts at beginning of next 2 rows = 115 stsQuery is for the next instruction.dec 1 sts at beg of following alt rows twice more = 109 stsPurl 1 row.? Does this mean. Knit 2 together in every row or only on the first row and then every 2nd row. = 7 rows????? Inluding the purl row.Help

Our Response:
To us, it means decrease 1 stitch at the beginning of next row and every other row so you end up with a purl row (not included). If your pattern is stocking stitch, you'll be able to work it by counting up in advance.
CraftExpert - 27-Apr-18 @ 10:40 AM
I am knitting a dress for my granddaughter and the pattern for yoke says. Cast on 30 sts at beginning of next 2 rows = 115 sts Query is for the next instruction. dec 1 sts at beg of following alt rows twice more = 109 sts Purl 1 row. ? Does this mean. Knit 2 together in every row or only on the first row and then every 2nd row. = 7 rows????? Inluding the purl row. Help
Confused - 24-Apr-18 @ 12:04 PM
Lucy - Your Question:
My pattern says work 36 rows in st st and at the same time inc 1 st each end of rows 3, 11, and 19 - 39Does this mean do I inc each end on rows 19, 20, 21 etc to row 39I AMA beginner

Our Response:
Yes that's what it looks like to us. We're assuming there are no further instructions near the number 39.
CraftExpert - 16-Apr-18 @ 2:10 PM
My pattern says work 36 rows in st st and at the same time inc 1 st each end of rows 3, 11, and 19 - 39 Does this mean do I inc each end on rows 19, 20, 21 etc to row 39 I AMA beginner
Lucy - 13-Apr-18 @ 2:05 PM
Clare56 - Your Question:
Am knitting a first size cardigan (2-4)yrs doing left front border which is moss stitch. 1st row at beginning and 2nd row at the end is asking for K0 not sure what I'm. meant to do haven't come across this before as far as I know. I've knitted cable items too and never had any problems lol.

Our Response:
We're not sure but sometimes it just means knit zero...i.e for certain sizes this part is not required.
CraftExpert - 28-Mar-18 @ 3:47 PM
Am knitting a first size cardigan (2-4)yrs doing left front border which is moss stitch. 1st row at beginningand 2nd row at the end is asking for K0 not sure what I'm. meant to do haven't come across this before as far as I know. I've knitted cable items too and never had any problems lol.
Clare56 - 27-Mar-18 @ 7:42 PM
Susan - Your Question:
I am knitting a cable cardigan and have noticed several spelling mistakes. I have been knitting for years and can’t get through the first pattern row. It says P. 1, rw. 2,p. 1, k. 1 repeat from * to *.What does “rw” imply, it’s not listed in their abbreviations. Could it be another mistake. Thank you to anyone that can help.

Our Response:
We really can't fathom what this could stand for. We hope another reader has used the same pattern and can post here!
CraftExpert - 9-Mar-18 @ 11:08 AM
I am knitting a cable cardigan and have noticed several spelling mistakes. I have been knitting for years and can’t get through the first pattern row. It says P. 1, rw. 2,p. 1, k. 1 repeat from * to *. What does “rw” imply, it’s not listed in their abbreviations. Could it be another mistake. Thank you to anyone that can help.
Susan - 8-Mar-18 @ 3:41 AM
evemom4 - Your Question:
I'm trying to complete my sweater project but I'm stuck on this line of instruction. In ref to the sleeve it say to knit 26 stitches over each sleeve together 2 and 2. Not sure what that means. Can you explain? Thank you

Our Response:
We're not sure to be honest. It could be where every two stitches are knitted together to decrease the pattern?
CraftExpert - 9-Feb-18 @ 2:39 PM
Fernilicious - Your Question:
Hello, I’m new to knitting in the round with dpns and I’m currently working on a pattern that tells me to cast on 32 stitches. There’s a (42) next to it. What does this mean?

Our Response:
The (42) just refers to the next size up. Usually a pattern will refer to several sizes so will give the variation in brackets afterwards. For example: In a pattern for sizes 10, (12, 14, 16)
the instructions might say cast on 32 (40, 48, 63)
etc
CraftExpert - 9-Feb-18 @ 2:31 PM
Hello, I’m new to knitting in the round with dpns and I’m currently working on a pattern that tells me to cast on 32 stitches. There’s a (42) next to it. What does this mean?
Fernilicious - 8-Feb-18 @ 8:26 PM
I'm trying to complete my sweater project but I'm stuck on this line of instruction. In ref to the sleeve it say to knit 26 stitches over each sleeve together 2 and 2. Not sure what that means. Can you explain? Thank you
evemom4 - 6-Feb-18 @ 10:57 PM
Topaz - Your Question:
Help what does wlfwd mean please

Our Response:
It's probably just an alternative to "yarn foward"...i.e just bring your wool forward before you take the next stitch.
CraftExpert - 29-Jan-18 @ 3:04 PM
CAJ - Your Question:
What is meant by saying the following: Work 2 rows in garter st using B, carrying A loosely along side of purse, what is meant by carrying A loosely along side of purse

Our Response:
Usually if you're knitting with two colours, you take the colour that you are not currently knitting with along the row at the rear of the work (sometimes taking it into a stitch here and there so there's not a big loose loop of yarn).
CraftExpert - 29-Jan-18 @ 3:00 PM
Michmac0305 - Your Question:
This is from a baby sock pattern. I don't understand the beginning where it says K0(1,2). Is that referring to a row of knitting and the 0(1,2) refer back to the # of stitches for the different sizes? This is so confusing. I'm including the rest of the directions too for perspective. I did finally find youtube videos to explain the w&t. I am really not understanding this but I guess the w&t helps to shape the heel?Heel:Using Colour C (Grey): K0(1, 2)Using Colour A (White): K12, turn,Sl1, P10, w&t.K9, w&t.P8, w&t.K7, w&t.P6, w&t.K5, w&t.Sl1, P5, turn.Sl1, K6, turn.Sl1, P7, turn.Sl1, K8, turn.Sl1, P9, turn.Sl1, K10, turn.Sl1, P11, turn.

Our Response:
Yes 0 (1,2) refer to the different sizes.So if you're knitting the first size it's 0, second size, it's 1 etc. So in your example if you were knitting the first size, you'd go straight to colour A (white). The wrap and turn is so you can shape the heel and don't get unnecessary holes when you knit a short row.
CraftExpert - 29-Jan-18 @ 2:47 PM
Tina - Your Question:
I am trying to understand & simplify: increase 1st 4 times every 8th row. This may sound silly but I can't seem to get my head round it. Does it mean 4 st on the 8th row?Please can you help me?Many thanksBettina

Our Response:
Yes it usually tells you where to increase the stitch (like at the beginning, middle, end etc). But basically every 8th row you come to, you increase by 4 stitches.
CraftExpert - 29-Jan-18 @ 2:42 PM
Help what does wlfwd mean please
Topaz - 27-Jan-18 @ 3:26 PM
What is meant by saying the following: Work 2 rows in garter st using B, carrying A loosely along side of purse, what is meant by carrying A loosely along side of purse
CAJ - 25-Jan-18 @ 9:43 AM
This is from a baby sock pattern.I don't understand the beginning where it says K0(1,2). Is that referring to a row of knitting and the 0(1,2) refer back to the # of stitches for the different sizes?This is so confusing.I'm including the rest of the directions too for perspective.I did finally find youtube videos to explain the w&t.I am really not understanding this but I guess the w&t helps to shape the heel? Heel: Using Colour C (Grey): K0(1, 2) Using Colour A (White): K12, turn, Sl1, P10, w&t. K9, w&t. P8, w&t. K7, w&t. P6, w&t. K5, w&t. Sl1, P5, turn. Sl1, K6, turn. Sl1, P7, turn. Sl1, K8, turn. Sl1, P9, turn. Sl1, K10, turn. Sl1, P11, turn.
Michmac0305 - 24-Jan-18 @ 8:44 PM
Help . New to knitting I have 19 stitches the pattern says.. K10 turn and complete this side first
Shell - 21-Jan-18 @ 8:28 PM
I'm knitting a pattern which says p1 knit into next stitch and loop across stitch p1 how do you loop across stitch
Daisy - 21-Jan-18 @ 10:00 AM
I am trying to understand & simplify: increase 1st 4 times every 8th row.This may sound silly but I can't seem to get my head round it.Does it mean 4 st on the 8th row? Please can you help me? Many thanks Bettina
Tina - 19-Jan-18 @ 10:37 PM
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Latest Comments
  • CraftExpert
    Re: Glossary of Knitting Terminology
    Taragosun - Your Question:Can you please let me know what M means in the following baby jacket pattern. M st 6, k to last 6…
    20 June 2018
  • Taragosun
    Re: Glossary of Knitting Terminology
    Can you please let me know what M means in the following baby jacket pattern. M st 6, k to last 6 sts, m st 6. Then the lace…
    17 June 2018
  • CraftExpert
    Re: Glossary of Knitting Terminology
    Trisha - Your Question:Yes it is a lacy bobble effect, but I have solved the problem by going to my wool shop for advice. The…
    11 May 2018
  • Trisha
    Re: Glossary of Knitting Terminology
    Yes it is a lacy bobble effect, but I have solved the problem by going to my wool shop for advice. The pattern was using an…
    9 May 2018
  • CraftExpert
    Re: Glossary of Knitting Terminology
    Trisha - Your Question:I am knitting a cardigan for my new great granddaughter and am just trying to decipher the pattern…
    9 May 2018
  • Trisha
    Re: Glossary of Knitting Terminology
    I am knitting a cardigan for my new great granddaughter and am just trying to decipher the pattern meaning of : using C,p2…
    8 May 2018
  • CraftExpert
    Re: Glossary of Knitting Terminology
    Gram - Your Question:I do not understand the following instructions in a knitting pattern: for starting a neckline shaping -…
    1 May 2018
  • Gram
    Re: Glossary of Knitting Terminology
    I do not understand the following instructions in a knitting pattern: for starting a neckline shaping - work 79 stitches…
    30 April 2018
  • CraftExpert
    Re: Glossary of Knitting Terminology
    Confused - Your Question:I am knitting a dress for my granddaughter and the pattern for yoke says. Cast on 30 sts at…
    27 April 2018
  • Confused
    Re: Glossary of Knitting Terminology
    I am knitting a dress for my granddaughter and the pattern for yoke says. Cast on 30 sts at beginning of next 2 rows = 115…
    24 April 2018
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