Knitting Glossary and Abbreviations

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.


Lisa / Pixabay

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 ribbingA bind off in which you work in ribbed stitches as you go (knit the knit stitches, and purl the purl stitches).
Cast onThe beginning row of stitches made to begin your knitting.
DecreaseReduces the stitches in a row (such as, knitting two stitches together).
IncreaseIncreases the stitches in a row (such as make one or knit in front and back of stitch).
KnitwiseInserting a needle into a stitch as if to knit.
Make oneCreating a new stitch by knitting into the front and back of a stitch.
Make one p-stCreating a new stitch by purling into the front and back of a stitch.
No stichA shaded space on a pattern chart. This section is to be skipped while knitting.
Place markersPlace a stitch marker, contrasting yarn, safety pin, or paper clip onto the stitch as indicated in a pattern.
Pick up and knit / purlKnit or purl into the loops or stitches along the edge of your work.
PurlwiseInserting a needle into a stitch as if to purl.
Selvage stitchAn edge stitch that makes it easier to seam the work together.
Slip, slip, knitSlip 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, knitSlip 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 stitchPass 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.


Pexels / Pixabay

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.

begbegin or beginning
CCcontrasting color
cncable needle
dpndouble-pointed needles
g-stgarter stitch
LHleft hand
MCmain color
M1make one
M1 p-stmake one purl stitch
pmplace marker
pssopass slip stitches over
RHright hand
RSright side
SKPslip 1 stitch, knit 1, pass slipped stitch over the knitted stitch (decreases 1 stitch)
SK2Pslip 1 stitch, knit 2 together, pass slipped stitch over the knit 2 together stitches (decreases 2 stitches)
sl stslip stitch
sskslip, slip knit
ssskslip, slip, slip knit
St ststockinette stitch
tblthrough back loop(s)
WRwrong side
wyibwith yarn in back
wyifwith 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


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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