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).
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- Hold the yarn as if to knit (so in the back of your work).
- Now, wrap the yarn around your right needle counter-clockwise once (you could also say from front to back).
- Secure the yarn over with your index finger and insert the needle into the next stitch.
- 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.
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.
Step 2: Knit the next stitch as normal. This will secure the yarn over in between these stitches.
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
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. 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.
Step 3: Secure the yarn over with your index finger, and insert your needles into the next stitch from right to left.
Step 4: Purl the next stitch. This stitch is, technically speaking, not part of the yarn over anymore!
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.
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
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.