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, 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 increases with a standard yarnover on the rightside and a yarnover purlwise on the left side

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.

How to knit a yarn over knitwise

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

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.

Step 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

Step 2: Now, wrap the yarn around your right needle counter-clockwise once (you could also say from front to back).

wrap the yarn counter clockwise around the right needle once to yarn over

Step 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

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

Note: They 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.

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.

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

How to knit a yarn over purlwise

Sometimes patterns require you to yarn over purlwise – typically in front of a purl stitch. The way you yarn over, in this case, is almost the same.

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: Insert your needles into the next stitch and secure the yarn over with your index finger.

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

Step 4: Purl the next stitch.

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).

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 around 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 it. 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

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