Knitting, much like music, painting, and crocheting, comes with its own language with a mountain of terms and abbreviations that might leave you wondering, “How in world do I read this!?“
Don’t despair! Once you familiarize yourself with knitting terms and abbreviations, you’ll find that they’re quite important and shorten the amount of text in a pattern—making it much less overwhelming!
Even with over a decade of knitting experience, I still feel this today when I see a crazy complicated pattern! My best advice to you would be to get familiar with these vital knitting terms and abbreviations before you begin knitting with a pattern.
If you’re a beginner, check out this post on how to get started.
The table below describes the most common knitting terms seen in magazines, books, and blogs. If you are starting off as a total beginner, you will mainly need to know the following terms: bind off, cast on, and work even. Binding off, casting on, and working even are used for beginner friendly projects such as scarves. Read the rest of the terms to familiarize yourself with the language for future patterns. One day, you will want to knit something with more interest such as a hat or raglan sweater.
|Bind off or cast off (UK)||Finishes the edge or section of a knitted piece. Most bind offs involve lifting the first stitch on your needle over the second, the second stitch over the third, and etcetera until all stitches have been casted off.|
|Bind off in ribbing||A bind off in which you work in ribbed stitches as you go (knit the knit stitches, and purl the purl stitches).|
|Cast on||The beginning row of stitches made to begin your knitting.|
|Decrease||Reduces the stitches in a row (such as, knitting two stitches together).|
|Increase||Increases the stitches in a row (such as make one or knit in front and back of stitch).|
|Knitwise||Inserting a needle into a stitch as if to knit.|
|Make one||Creating a new stitch by knitting into the front and back of a stitch.|
|Make one p-st||Creating a new stitch by purling into the front and back of a stitch.|
|No stich||A shaded space on a pattern chart. This section is to be skipped while knitting.|
|Place markers||Place a stitch marker, contrasting yarn, safety pin, or paper clip onto the stitch as indicated in a pattern.|
|Pick up and knit / purl||Knit or purl into the loops or stitches along the edge of your work.|
|Purlwise||Inserting a needle into a stitch as if to purl.|
|Selvage stitch||An edge stitch that makes it easier to seam the work together.|
|Slip, slip, knit||Slip the next two stitches. Insert the left hand needle into the front of the slipped stitches from left to right. Knit them together (decrease).|
|Slip, slip, slip, knit||Slip the next three stitches. Insert the left hand needle into the front of the slipped stitches from left to right. Knit them together (two decreased stitches).|
|Slip stitch||Pass an unworked stitch purlwise onto the right needle.|
|Work even or work straight (UK)||Continue working the pattern without increasing or decreasing stitches.|
|Yarn over or yarn forward (UK)||Make a new stitch by wrapping the yarn over the right needle.|
The table below describes the most common knitting abbreviations seen in patterns. If you are starting off as a beginner, you will mainly need to know the following abbreviations: beg, cont, g-st, k, LH, p, pat, and RH. These terms are what you will see minimally for most beginner friendly patterns. However, familiarize yourself with the other abbreviations. Eventually, you will want to create something more challenging and interesting that requires more skills.
|beg||begin or beginning|
|M1 p-st||make one purl stitch|
|psso||pass slip stitches over|
|SKP||slip 1 stitch, knit 1, pass slipped stitch over the knitted stitch (decreases 1 stitch)|
|SK2P||slip 1 stitch, knit 2 together, pass slipped stitch over the knit 2 together stitches (decreases 2 stitches)|
|sl st||slip stitch|
|ssk||slip, slip knit|
|sssk||slip, slip, slip knit|
|St st||stockinette stitch|
|tbl||through back loop(s)|
|wyib||with yarn in back|
|wyif||with yarn in front|
|yo (yfwd, yon, yrn)||yarn over needle|
|*||repeat the directions following the * as indicated in the pattern|
|[ ]||Repeat the directions inside of the brackets as indicated in the pattern|
SIZE AND GAUGE
|Pattern size directions are always shown for the smallest size, with larger sizes shown in parentheses. Example: CO 104 (110, 116, 122) sts.|
|A knitting gauge is the measure of the number of stitches over a swatch of fabric. A test square should be a minimum of 2×2” (5x5cm), but for the most accurate gauge, knit a 4×4” (10x10cm) gauge. Because yarn weights differ by material and manufacturer, and people knit with different tensions, it is important to make sure that the gauge is as accurate as possible to the pattern.|
To get fewer stitches per inch/cm, use larger needles. To get more stitches per inch/cm, use smaller needles. Experiment with different sizes until your gauge matches the required stitches in your pattern’s gauge.
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