How to yarn over – Knitwise & purlwise

A step-by-step tutorial for beginners on how to knit a yarn over – both purlwise and knitwise – the easy way.

Many patterns require you to yarn over. With a’ Yarn Over’, you can create decorative holes (so-called eyelets) in your fabric and they are probably the easiest knitting increase.

Some stitches, like the beautiful brioche stitch, or certain bind-off techniques also need frequent yarn overs.

ⓘ In knitting patterns, this stitch is usually abbreviated with “yo” for “yarn over”. Unless otherwise indicated, this means you have to yarn over as if to knit. In a purl row, you typically yop (yarn over purl; see below).

A swatch with a yarnover knitwise on the right side and a yarnover purlwise on the left side
A swatch where I increased with a standard yarnover on the right side and a yarnover purlwise on the left side

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Instructions: How to knit a yarn over (knitwise)

someone showing a simple yarn over on the knitting needles

Knitting a yarn over is very easy. In fact, it's so easy that you probably accidentally knitted one (often happens when you alternate between knit and purl stitches or when working with a needle set in the round). Once you know how to yarn over, you probably won't have any troubles with the M1L and M1R increase.

Note: I am using a contrasting red yarn for instructional purposes only.

Active Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes


  1. Hold the yarn as if to knit (so in the back of your work).

    hold the yarn as if to knit for the yarn over stitch
  2. Now, wrap the yarn around your right needle counter-clockwise once (you could also say from front to back).

    Wrap the yarn around the right needle counter-clockwise once to yarn over purl
  3. Secure the yarn over with your index finger and insert the needle into the next stitch.

    insert the needle through the next knit stitch and secure the yarn over with your index finger
  4. Step 4: Knit a knit stitch as you normally would. You will now see a little extra loop going from left to right & back to front on your right needle.

    how the yarn over knitwise will appear on your needles

    Important: This next stitch is not part of the yarn over. It just sets it into place.


The yarn over counts as an increase. Because it creates a little eyelet in your fabric, it is typically only used for decorative purposes. You can close the hole a bit by knitting the yarn over twisted in the next round.

One of the most common mistakes a lot of beginners make is thinking a yarnover includes the following knit or purl stitch. It doesn't. A yarnover is performed between two stitches and will be displayed as its own stitch in a knitting chart.

Yarn over English knitting

If you are an English or American knitter, then the yarn over basically works the same. The only difference is that you’ll use your right hand to wrap the yarn around the needle counter-clockwise instead of using your left needle to do so.

Step 1: Wrap the working yarn around the needle counter-clockwise. So, simply bring the working yarn forward from below.

someone knitting a yarn over the english style

Step 2: Knit the next stitch as normal. This will secure the yarn over in between these stitches.

someone finishing a yarn over english style by knitting the next stitch

The best way to describe is it knitting one stitch without inserting the knitting needle into a stitch. But it’s really just one little flick forward.

Reverse yarn over

wrapping the working yarn around the needle clockwise to create the reverse yarn over

Some patterns, but especially the yarn over bind off, will require you to do a reverse yarn over (Rev YO). In this case, you simply have to execute the yarn over clockwise. Everything else will be the same.

Click here for the step-by-step tutorial on the reverse yarn over

How to knit a yarn over purlwise

Sometimes patterns require you to yarn over purlwise – typically in front of a purl stitch. For continental knitters, the core technique will be exactly the same. The only difference is the way you hold the yarn before and after the actual stitch.

Step 1: Hold the yarn as if to purl (so in front of your work).

Step 2: Wrap the yarn around your right needle counter-clockwise.

Wrap the yarn around the right needle counter-clockwise once to yarn over purl

Step 3: Secure the yarn over with your index finger, and insert your needles into the next stitch from right to left.

insert the needle into the next purl stitch and secure the yarn over

Step 4: Purl the next stitch. This stitch is, technically speaking, not part of the yarn over anymore!

Knit the next purl stitch as you would normally do

American knitters will have to wrap the yarn around the needle counter-clockwise with their right hand before they purl (step 2), keeping the yarn forward.

knitting a yarn over purlwise the english style

And I guess, that’s the reason why the technique got rewarded its own name. A yarn over purlwise kind of feels differently for someone holding the yarn in the right hand.

Double yarn over / yarn over twice

a double yarn over purlwise

Some patterns require you to yarn over twice or double yarn over (dyo). The steps are exactly the same, but you will have to wrap the working yarn around your right needle twice before you knit the next stitch.

Knitting this double yarn over on the return row can sometimes be a bit tricky and very sharp-pointed needles will be your best friend.

So, That’s how you yarn over knitwise and purlwise. Feel free to comment with your questions!

How to yarn over knitwise and purlwise for beginners

17 thoughts on “How to yarn over – Knitwise & purlwise”

    • Difficult to say without seeing the pattern, and I never comment on other designers’ patterns. But I would imagine they mean knitting a sort of KFB – knit front and back into the yarnover loop.
      Tho, it rather sounds like there are two yarnovers. A yarnover (or any other stitch) typically has two LEGS that form one LOOP. So, these instructions are a bit confusing, if you ask me.

  1. I’m knitting a sweater that has a lace-like pattern down the center of the sleeves. There are a few yo’s in each RS row. How do I make the yo “holes” smaller when I’m purling back on the next row? Your web site says this can be accomplished by “knitting the yo twisted in the next round.” How do I do that? The holes left with my yo’s are, in my opinion, too large. Btw – your website is great!! It’s my go-to for any and all knitting problems/questions I have.

  2. Hi! I just wanted to ask: what exactly do I do with the yarn over stitch loop that I created in the next row? Do I slip if off the needle without doing ag´nything or do I just knit it like a normal stitch?

  3. I’m making a Elvish Teeny Tiny hat for premies. The baby hat that has ‘leaves’ and needs the yarn overs to create that, but I am 100% confused because the pattern says
    Using circular needle, loosely CO 54 sts (3 repeats). Place marker and join to work in the round, being careful not to twist sts. Work 12 rounds of Leaf Pattern once.
    Leaf Pattern
    Rnd 1: [p2, k2, p3, p3tog, p3, k2, p2, yo, k1, yo (pm)] 3 times.

    When I yarn over the first time, do I place the yarn in front, then knit the next stitch, then knit 1, then place the yarn in front again and knit the next stitch? When I’ve done that I’m ending up with too many stitches. When I tried placing the yarn in front, knitting one stitch and then placed the yarn in front again, I was supposed to repeat the pattern which meant I was purling the next stitch and that didn’t create a yarn over! I have ripped this out time and time again, I’m not getting what to do in order to maintain the original 54 stitches (creating my 3 sections of 18) HELP!!!

    • This is how I do yarnovers. Simply leave/bring yarn in front and knit the stitch, and bring/leave yarn to back and purl the stitch depending on whether your previous stitch was a knit or a purl. The yo to purl feels weird and you have to be careful identifying it on your way back, but it works fine for me. And holes are not so gaping!

  4. Hi Norman, just to mention I love your blog and YouTube channel, whenever I’m lost I go right to either of them. But I have two question that I didn’t quite get: what’s the actual visual difference in the from the yo knitwise to the yo purlwise? And the dyo what does it make on your work because I’ve never heard of one nor seen one until now? Does it make two eyelets or one bigger one or it all depends on how you knit it on the return row?

    • there is no visual difference between yarn over purlwise and knitwise. The distinction was probably made up by English knitters who will have to do a different motion with their right hand.
      For a continental knitter, there is no difference.
      A double yarn over creates a bigger eyelet – at least if you drop one of the wraps in the return row.

  5. Hello. Can you help me please with these directions? I don’t understand what i have to do. What is this yo method called? “yo, which you should work through back strand(making one away) and front strand (making one toward). Such technique will help you avoid holes”. What is the name of this technique?

    • It am not sure since I lack context. It could means that you work a yarn over in the first round or row. And in the next round or row, you knit it either through the back loop or the normal way.
      Or it’S the difference between a normal yarn over and a reverse yarn over.


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