In this post, we’re going to be looking at busting knitting jargon.
Knitting is rife with abbreviations, otherwise known as knitting jargon. Knitting patterns can get pretty long as I’m sure you can imagine, so it is sensible to try and condense that information a touch.
That being said, I’m pretty sure knitters also love feeling smug when a non-knitter looks at a pattern in disbelief and awe. I’m not gonna lie, I love that people think I’m some sort of genius. (I’m not.)
I once saw a t-shirt that I really wanted to own, but I was 17 and a student with no disposable income. I’ve just spent the last hour trudging the depths of the internet, but alas, I cannot find it. It was incredibly cute and said something along the lines of…
K2, P2 (YO, K2TOG)…
Do you know the code?
If you ever find it, please buy me it. I will love you forever, I swear.
Now, do you know the code? If you do… This post probably won’t help you very much, as it may well be teaching one’s mother to suck eggs. However, if you don’t know the code, I’m about to let you in on the secret. Shhh….
Understanding Knitting Jargon
First off, we need to know the basic abbreviations and symbols:
 – Work instructions inside brackets as many times as the pattern directs you
() – Work instructions inside brackets as the pattern directs you
** – Work from instructions in between the asterisks as the pattern directs you
RS – Right Side
WS – Wrong Side
St / Sts – Stitch(es)
CO – Cast On
K – Knit
P – Purl
YO – Yarn Over
K2tog – Knit two together (You may also see K3tog, or even k4tog sometimes)
P2tog – Purl two together (or P3tog, or P4tog)
BO – Bind Off (could also be Body Odour, depending on context.)
Then we should probably know some of the slightly less basic ones:
m1 – Make one
pm – Place marker
Sl St – Slip Stitch
kwise – Knit-wise
pwise – Purl-wise
sl1k – Slip one Knit-wise
sl1p – Slip one Purl-wise
Ssk – Slip, slip, Knit
Sssk – Slip, slip, slip, knit
psso – Pass slipped stitch over
tbl – Through the back loop
wyif – With yarn in front
wyib – With yarn in back
These are some of the more basic ones you will find, but believe me when I say there are many, many more.
So, then we need to know what they mean:
In this post, I’m assuming that if you’re at this stage, you already know how to cast on, knit, purl and bind off. If not, never fear! you can sign up for my FREE beginner’s e-course, which teaches you all the basics. Just click the sign-up button below to register!
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Yarn over – If on a knit row, bring the working yarn to the front, and knit the next stitch with the yarn in front instead of in the back of the work. If on a purl row, take the yarn over the right-hand needle and back through to the front.
Knit two together – Exactly as it sounds; instead of knitting the next stitch on the left needle, knit the next two stitches together from the left needle. (or three, or four.)
Purl two together – Exactly as the previous; instead of purling the next stitch on the left needle, purl the next two stitches together from the left needle. (or three, or four.)
M1 – Increase by one stitch
Slip one knit-wise – Put your right-hand needle into the next stitch as if you are going to knit it. Instead of completing the stitch, just let the stitch slip from the left needle to the right and continue working as normal.
Slip one purl-wise – Put your right-hand needle into the next stitch as if you are going to purl it. Instead of completing the stitch, just let the stitch slip from the left needle to the right and continue working as normal.
Ssk – Slip the next two stitches (purl-wise*), then knit them together
Sssk – Slip the next three stitches (purl-wise), then knit them together
*Unless your pattern specifically states that you are to slip a stitch knit-wise, you should always slip purl-wise. By slipping as if you are going to purl, you are literally just moving the stitch from the left needle to the right needle. If you slip as if to knit, you are twisting the stitch as you slip it.
Yay! Now we know exactly what all those random letters, numbers and symbols that make up a knitting pattern actually mean.
What I would recommend if you find reading a pattern challenging, especially at the beginning, is writing your pattern out fully first. Use this guide as a reference, and write the “code” out in plain English, that you can understand easily.
I used to play the flute, and when I first started learning to read music, I would write what the notes were underneath the score. After a while, I didn’t need to do this anymore, and I could read music easily, but it is like learning another language – practice makes perfect!
If you are wanting to perfect your knitting skills, but you don’t know exactly what you need to learn in order for you to be able to master the craft, download my FREE Knitting Roadmap – 5 Steps to Knitting Mastery now. It tells you exactly what you need to know, and in what order you’re best tackling each skill! Just click “Access Now”, and pop in your details to get the free download.
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5 Steps to Knitting Mastery tells you exactly what you need to learn and in what order to reach the point of absolute knitting confidence!
To download, just pop your details in and you will get an email with the pdf!