When you first start working with knitting patterns, you’ll notice that they seem to be written in a completely different language. What, after all, does “*K1, p1; rep from *” mean? All of these seemingly cryptic strings of letters, numbers and symbols are part of a system of knitting terminology that help save space in patterns and make instructions less tedious to read. Here we list and describe the most common terms you’ll run across.

knitting abbreviations

alt—alternate; alternately

—back cross; back cable (See cable.)
beg—begin; begins; beginning
BO—bind off
BO—bobble (See MB.)

—cable; cross. A cable (also called a cross) is formed by using an extra needle, usually a cable needle or double-pointed needle, to hold stitches to be crossed either to the front (which crosses them to the left), or to the back (which crosses them to the right). The cable crossing is worked on the right side of the work. The extra needle should be thinner than those you are working with to avoid stretching the stitches. After you have worked the cable, be sure to pull the yarn firmly before working the next stitch to prevent gaps in your work.
CC—contrasting color. When two colors are used, the contrasting color is the yarn that is used as an accent.
cn—cable needle
CO—cast on
cont—continue; continuing
cross 2 L—cross two stitches to the left (See cable.)
cross 2 R—cross two stitches to the right (See cable.)

—double crochet
dec—decrease; decreasing
DK—double knitting
dp; dpn—double-pointed needle
dtr—double treble

—end of needle

—front cross (See cable.)
foll—follow; follows; following

g; gr
grp; grps—group; groups
g st—garter stitch

—half double crochet

in; ins
—inch; inches
inc—increase; increasing

k-b; k 1 b—knit stitch in row below (Infrequently used for knit through back loop—see tbl.)
kfb—knit into the front and back of a stitch
k tbl—knit through back loop
k2tog—knit two together

—left cross (See cable.)
lp; lps—loop; loops
LT—left twist. A left twist is formed by crossing one stitch over another.

MB—make bobble. A bobble is a three-dimensional stitch made by working multiple increases in one stitch, sometimes working a few rows, and then decreasing back to one stitch.
MC—main color. When two or more colors are used, the main color is the yarn that is dominant.
m1—make one



pat; pats—pattern; patterns
p-b—purl stitch in the row below
pfb—purl into the front and back of a stitch
pnso—pass next stitch over
psso—pass slip stitch over
p tbl—purl through back loop

p2tog—purl two together

—right cross (See cable.)
rem—remain; remaining
rev St st—reverse stockinette stitch
rnd; rnds—round; rounds
RS—right side
RT—right twist. A right twist is formed by crossing one stitch over another.

—single crochet
SKP—slip one, knit one, pass slip stitch over
sl st—slip stitch
sp; sps—space; spaces
ssk—slip, slip, knit
st; sts—stitch; stitches
St st—stockinette stitch

—through back loop
tch; t-ch—turning chain
trtr—triple treble

—wrong side
won—wool over needle
wrn—wool round needle
wyib—with yarn in back
wyif—with yarn in front

yb (or ybk)
—yarn to the back
yf (or yfwd)—yarn to the front (or forward)
yfon—yarn forward and over needle (See yarn overs.)
yfrn—yarn forward and round needle (See yarn overs.)
yo—yarn over. A yarn over is a decorative increase made by wrapping the yarn around the needle. There are various ways to make a yarn over depending on where it is placed.
yo twice; yo2—yarn over two times
yon—yarn over needle (See yarn overs.)
yrn—yarn round needle (See yarn overs.)


knitting terminology

above markers: Knitting worked after the point where stitch markers have been placed.
above rib: Knitting worked after the last row of ribbing.
after ... number of rows have been worked: Continue working as instructed after completing the designated number of rows.
along neck: Generally used when picking up stitches at a shaped, or curved, neck edge.
as established: Continue to work the pattern as previously described.
as foll: Work the instructions that follow.
as for back (front): Work a piece identical to the back (or the front).
as to knit: Work the stitch as if you were knitting.
as to purl: Work the stitch as if you were purling.
AT THE SAME TIME: Work the instructions that immediately follow this term simultaneously with those that immediately precede it.
attach: Join a new strand of yarn.

back edge: Any edge on the back piece of the garment.
beg and end as indicated: Used when working with charts. Begin the row of knitting at the point on the chart that is indicated for your size by an arrow or straight line and the term "beg" (beginning). Continue working the chart as instructed, knitting the last stitch at the point indicated by another arrow or straight line and the term "end."
bind off ... sts at beg of next ... rows: Often used in armhole and shoulder shaping. Stitches are almost always bound off at the beginning of a row. Therefore, after binding off the designated number of stitches, work to the end of the row, turn the work, and bind off the same number of stitches at the beginning of the next row.
bind off center ... sts: Determine the center stitches and place markers on either side of the center stitches, if desired, on the needles. Work the next row to the first marker, join a new ball of yarn and bind off the center stitches, then work to the end of the row with the new ball of yarn.
bind off from each neck edge: A term used when both sides of the inside neck edge are shaped simultaneously after binding off the center stitches.
bind off in rib (or pat): Always bind off stitches as they appear. That is, knit the knit stitches and purl the purl stitches as you bind them off.
bind off loosely: Do not pull the yarn too tightly when binding off. Or, you may use a needle one size larger on the bind-off row.
bind off rem sts each side: A term usually used for the remaining stitches of each shoulder after shaping a neck. After you have completed all the shaping, bind off the stitches that remain on one side, then bind off the remaining stitches on the other side.
block pieces: The process of laying flat completed pieces of knitting to even and smooth the stitches and to give them their permanent shape.
body of sweater is worked in one piece to underarm: A term used when using a circular needle to knit a sweater with no side seams up to the underarm.
both sides at once (or at same time): A term used after an opening has been made on a row, such as for a placket. When stitches have been bound off and you have two separate pieces on one needle, work both sides simultaneously with separate balls of yarn. That is, work one row on the first side, then work the corresponding row on the second side with the second ball of yarn. Then turn the work.

cap shaping:
The shaped part of the sleeve above the widest part of the arm, which will fit into the armhole of the sweater.
carry yarn loosely across back of work: In color knitting, let the yarn not in use span loosely across the wrong side of the work until you need to use it again.
cast on ... sts at beg of next ... rows: When adding two or more stitches at the edges of a piece, cast on the designated number of stitches before beginning the row, work the cast-on stitches, then work to the end of the row. Turn the work and cast on the same number of stitches at the beginning of the next row.
cast on ... sts over bound-off sts: Usually refers to making buttonholes. Work to where the stitches from the previous row were bound off. Cast on the specified number of stitches, then work to the end of the row.
center back (front) neck: The point that marks the center of the back (or front) neck.
change to smaller (larger) needles: Proceed with the work using smaller (or larger) needles than those used previously.
cont in pat: Continue to work the pattern as previously described.
cont in this way: Continue to work in the manner previously described.

directions are for smallest (smaller) size with larger size in parentheses:
Many knitting instructions are written for more than one size. Usually, the number referring to the smallest (smaller) size is the number before the parentheses. The numbers indicating larger sizes appear inside the parentheses in ascending order.
discontinue pat: Stop working the pattern immediately preceding and continue as directed.
do not press: Do not use an iron to press or steam the knitted fabric.
do not turn work: Keep the work facing in the same direction as the row you have just completed.

each end (side):
Work designated stitches at both the beginning and the end of a row.
easing in any fullness: In seaming, gather in any extra fabric evenly.
end last rep: After completing a full repeat of a pattern and not enough stitches remain to complete another repeat, end the pattern repeat as directed.
end with a RS (WS) row: The last row worked is a right side (wrong side) row.
every other row: When shaping, work one row between each increase or decrease row.

fasten off:
When binding off, pull the yarn through the last loop on the needle to finish the piece and prevent unraveling.
finished bust: The circumference of a garment at the bustline after the front and back have been sewn together.
finished bust (buttoned): A term usually used for cardigans or jackets to indicate the circumference at the bustline after the two fronts and the back have been sewn together and the fronts are buttoned.
from beg: A term used when measuring from the cast-on edge of the piece or beginning of the knitted piece.
front edge: Any edge on the front piece of the garment.
full-fashioned: A term used in ready-to-wear that means deliberately showing decreases or increases worked in stockinette stitch a few stitches from the edge.

The number of stitches and rows per inch (centimeter).
grafting: Weaving two edges together that have not been bound off, resulting in an invisible joining.

hold to front (back) of work:
A term usually referring to stitches placed on a cable needle that are held to the front (or the back) of the work as it faces you.

inc ... sts evenly across row:
Increase the stitches at even intervals across the row.
inc sts into pat: When increasing, work the added stitches into the established pattern.
in same way (manner): Repeat the process that was previously described.
it is essential to get proper row gauge: When instructions are written for a specific number of rows (such as in garments with large motifs), you must obtain the specified row gauge to get the correct length.

When used in circular knitting, the process of uniting the first and last stitch of a round.
join 2nd ball (skein) of yarn: A phrase used when dividing the work into two sections (such as for placket or neck shaping), where each section is worked with a separate ball (or skein) of yarn.
join, taking care not to twist sts: When casting on in circular knitting, join the first and the last cast-on stitch to form a circle, making sure that the stitches are not twisted on the needle.

k the knit sts and p the purl sts:
A phrase used when a pattern of knit and purl stitches has been established and will continue for a determined length (such as ribbing). Work the stitches as they face you: Knit the knit stitches and purl the purl stitches.
k the purl sts and p the knit sts: A phrase used when a pattern of knit and purl stitches will alternate on the following row or rows (such as in a seed stitch pattern). Work the stitches opposite of how they face you: Purl the knit stitches and knit the purl stitches.
keep careful count of rows: Advice usually given with intricate patterns or shaping in which the row count is important. Keep track either by writing down each row as you complete it or by using a row counter.
keeping to pat (or maintaining pat): A term used when new instructions are given (such as shaping), but the established pattern must be continued.
knitwise (or as to knit): Insert the needle into the stitch as if you were going to knit it.

Refers to the left-hand side of the garment as you are wearing it.
lower edge: The bottom edge of the piece, usually the cast-on edge.

matching colors:
Work the stitches in the same color sequence as on the previous row.
multiple of ... sts: Used when working a pattern. The total number of stitches should be divisible by the number of stitches in one pattern repeat.
multiple of ... sts plus ... extra: Used when working a pattern. The total number of stitches should be divisible by the number of stitches in one pattern repeat, plus the extra stitches (added only once).

next row (RS), or (WS):
The row following the one just worked will be a right side (or wrong side) row.

on all foll rows:
A direction that applies to all the rows that follow the row just worked.

pick up and k:
Used in finishing to refer to pulling up loops through stitches and rows of a finished edge with the stated knitting needles and a ball of yarn to begin an edge or a new piece.
piece measures approx: A term used when a specified number of rows must be worked, as in shaping or pattern work. The piece should measure the stated amount within one-fourth inch (6mm) if you have the correct row gauge.
place marker(s): Slide a stitch marker either onto the needle (where it is slipped every row) or attach it to a stitch, where it remains as a guide.
preparation row: A row that sets up the stitch pattern but is not part of the pattern repeat.
pull up a lp: Often used in crochet, this term in knitting signifies drawing a new stitch (or loop) through the knit fabric.
purlwise: Insert the needle into the stitch as if you were going to purl it.

rep between *'s:
Repeat the instructions that fall between the two asterisks.
rep from * around: In circular knitting, repeat the instructions that begin at the asterisk, ending at the joining.
rep from *, end ... : Repeat the instructions that begin at the asterisk as many times as you can work full repeats of the pattern, then end the row as directed.
rep from * to end: Repeat the instructions that begin at the asterisk, ending the row with a full repeat of the pattern.
rep from ... row: Repeat the pattern rows previously worked, beginning with the row specified.
rep inc (or dec): Repeat the increase (or decrease) previously described.
rep ... times more: Repeat a direction the designated number of times (not counting the first time you work it).
reverse pat placement: A term used for garments such as cardigans where the right and left fronts have symmetrical patterns. Generally, the instructions for only one piece are given, and you must work patterns for the second piece in the opposite order.
reversing shaping: A term used for garments such as cardigans where shaping for the right and left fronts is identical, but reversed. The instructions for only one piece are given, and you must work the shaping for the second piece in the opposite order.
right: Refers to the right-hand side of the garment as you are wearing it.
right side (or RS): Usually refers to the surface of the work that will face outside when the garment is worn.
row: A horizontal line of stitches formed by transferring all the stitches from one needle to the other.
row 2 and all WS (even-numbered) rows: A term used when all the wrong-side or even-numbered rows are worked the same.

same as:
Follow the instructions given in another section or piece of the garment.
same length as: A term used when two or more pieces of a garment are equal in length, and the measurement of one has already been given.

schematic: A scale drawing showing specific measurements of all the pieces of a garment before they are sewn together and finished.
selvage st: An extra stitch (or stitches) at the edge of a piece used either to make seaming easier or as a decorative finish.
set in sleeves: Sew the sleeves into the armholes.
sew shoulder seam, including neckband: A phrase used when seaming a shoulder before working a neckband. After the neckband is completed, sew the open shoulder seam along with the side edges of the neckband.
sew top of sleeves between markers: A term generally used when the garment has no armhole shaping (such as for drop shoulders), and markers must be used to denote the depth of the armhole. Center the sleeve at the shoulder seam, with the ends of the sleeve top at the markers, and sew it to the front and back of the garment.
short row: A technique, generally used in shaping, to add rows in one segment of a piece without decreasing the number of stitches on the needle.
side to side: When a piece is worked horizontally from side seam to side seam instead of vertically from the lower edge.
sleeve width at upper arm: The measurement of the finished sleeve at its widest point, which, when seamed, fits around the widest part of the arm.
slightly stretched: A term often used when measuring stitch patterns that tend to pull in, such as ribbing or cables. A more accurate gauge of the pattern is obtained when the stitches are pulled apart slightly.
slip marker: To keep the stitch marker in the same position from one row to the next, transfer it from one needle to the other as you work each row.
slip marker at beg of every rnd: In circular knitting, slip the marker from one needle to the other every time you begin a new round.
slip sts to a holder: Transfer the stitches from the needle to a stitch holder.
swatch: A sample of knitting used to check the gauge or to try out a stitch or colorwork pattern before knitting the garment.
sweater is worked in one piece: Work all the parts of a sweater—the front, back and sleeves—as one piece.
sweater is worked in two pieces: Work the front half of the sweater (including the front half of the sleeves) in one piece and the back half in another.

through both thicknesses:
A term usually used in seaming when working through two pieces of fabric at one time.
through ... row: Work up to and include the designated row. This term is usually used when knitting from a chart.
to ... row: Work up to but do not include the specified row. This term is usually used when knitting from a chart.
total length: The length of a garment after finishing, including ribbing or edging and any shoulder shaping.
turning: The process of switching your knitted piece from right side to wrong side or vice versa to work a new or partial row.
turning ridge: A row of raised stitches (often purl stitches on stockinette stitch) that indicates where the piece will fold in or out, as in a hem.
twist yarns on WS to prevent holes: A term used in colorwork when changing from one color to the next across a row. Twist the old and the new yarns around each other to prevent a hole in your work.

use a separate bobbin for each block of color:
When working intarsia (large color block patterns), where the yarn cannot be carried across large areas of color, use a bobbin for each separate block of color.

weave in ends:
In finishing, loose ends must be worked in so that they will not unravel.
when armhole measures: This term is used to denote the point in a sweater at which the neck, shoulder or placket shaping begins and is measured from the beginning of the armhole shaping.
weave or twist yarns not in use: In Fair Isle knitting, when you must carry yarns for more than a few stitches, weave or twist yarns that are not being used around the working yarn to avoid long, loose strands.
width from sleeve edge (cuff) to sleeve edge (cuff): When the body and sleeves of a sweater are knit in one piece, this term refers to the width measurement from the edge of one sleeve, across the shoulder and neck edges, to the edge of the second sleeve.
with RS facing: A term often used when picking up stitches. The right side of the work must be facing you and the wrong side facing away from you.
with WS facing: A term used when the wrong side of the work must be facing you and the right side facing away from you.
work across sts on holder: Work the stitches directly from the stitch holder, or transfer the stitches from the holder to a knitting needle and then work them.
work back and forth as with straight needles: When knitting on a circular needle, turn the work at the end of every row instead of joining it and working in rounds.
work buttonholes opposite markers: When markers for buttons have been placed on the button band, work the buttonholes opposite these markers on the other band so that they will correspond to the buttons.
work even (straight): Continue in the established pattern without working any shaping.
working in pat: Follow the instructions for the pattern, whether written or graphed.
work in rounds: In circular knitting, the process of working a piece in which the ends have been joined and there are no seams.
work rep of chart ... times: When working a pattern from a chart, work the stitches in the repeat as many times as indicated.
work to correspond: A term used when instructions are given for one piece, and a similar second piece must be made to correspond. There are usually some exceptions on the second piece, such as reversing shaping or pattern placement.
work to end: Work the established pattern to the end of the row.
work to ... sts before center: Work the row to a specified number of stitches before the center of the row, which is generally indicated by a stitch marker.
work to last ... sts: Work across the row until the specified number of stitches remains on the left needle.
work until ... sts from bind-off (or on RH needle): After binding off, work until the specified number of stitches remains on the right needle.
working needle: The needle being used to make new stitches.
working yarn: The yarn being used to make new stitches.
wrong side (or WS): Usually refers to the surface of the work that will face inside when the garment is worn.


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