Knitting Terms, Abbreviations, and techniques – a Glossary

Is there an abbreviation in your knitting pattern you don’t understand? Or did someone on social media say something you didn’t understand? Well, then you came to the right place. This glossary is loaded with all the important knitting terms and techniques you could possibly think of.

Aside from telling you what all these knitting abbreviations and acronyms mean, I also tried to provide useful links and tutorials. I feel that knowing what something means is often not enough. You also need to know how to knit it and what to do with it.

I split this glossary into three parts:

  1. General Terms & Abbreviations
  2. Abbreviations for knitting stitches
  3. Knitting lingo you will find online

Click on the links if you want to jump right down. You can use the search function of your browser (press ctrl + f on Windows PCs) to find a specific term more quickly.

Common knitting abbreviations and terms in patterns and knitting texts

Bavarian twisted stitches = A traditional bavarian way to knit small mini-cables without a cable needle. All cable stitches are knit through the back loop to create an elevated line. Here’s how to knit Bavarian twisted stitches.

Beg = beginning

BO = Bind off; also known as cast-off (especially in the UK)

BOR = Begining of round/row

Break the yarn = means to cut the working yarn leaving a short tail – either using a scissor or by simply tearing it apart (if it’s thin/weak enough)

Cable = Cable stitch; a traditional way to cross multiple stitches creating intricate designs that look like cables or plaits.

CC = contrasting colour

CN = Cable needle used for knitting the cable stitch

CO = Cast on (sometimes also cast-off)

Course: In knitting, this is a more technical term for the stitches in a row (think of it as the loops of the stitches following a “course” across the row; every stitch is connected to the other in one continuous line).

Dec(s): decrease(s)

DPNS = Double-pointed needles; you need them to knit in the round using either 3 or 4 needles.

Entrelac = A sort of patchwork technique to achieve a basketweave effect in one or multiple colors. Here’s how to do entrelac.

EON: End of needle

EOR: End of row

Fair Isle: Is a traditional method to knit with 2 different colors in one row by creating floats on the backside. Here’s my full Fair Isle knitting tutorial.

inc(s): increase(s) – often appears in more schematic knitting patterns and leaves it to the knitter which knitting increase they choose

I-Cord = Idiot cord; a very simple way to knit a thin cord in stockinette stitch (it’s so easy, even an idiot can knit it)

Intarsia: A knitting technique used to knit with multiple colors in one row through a special joining method and the use of bobbins. Read how to knit Intarsia here.

Jog = a visible stair that can be observed after a color change when knitting in the round. There are special techniques for creating jogless stripes.

Leading leg = the part of a knitting stitch that is closer to the tip of the needle. If you look at a stitch on the needle from above, the needle bisects the stitch in two parts (= legs).

LH = left hand

R = Row or round; sometimes also rnds

Rep = repeat

RH = right hand

Rib = rib stitch, sometimes also ribbing; Often preceded by a number indicating the width of the rib. Like a 1×1 rib.

RS = right side; it refers to the visually dominant side of your project, like the front of a sweater.

st = stitches

Stranded knitting/stranded colorwork: Very similar to Fair Isle but using more than two colors per row and creating floats across long stretches.

Steek/to steek = cut vertically through your knittingto add a zipper/open front. Special preparation and seaming are needed before you can cut it to avoid unraveling.

Trailing leg = the part of the stitch that is connected to the working yarn.

Wales: In knitting, a wale is a vertical column of loops (stitches).

WS = wrong side or backside of a knitting project.

2aat means 2 at a time; refers to a special technique used to knit two socks at the same time to beat second-sock-syndrome. Can be used for sleeves as well.

FO means finished object and is used for any knitting project that you successfully cast off and is ready to be worn.

Frog/frogging means to intentionally unravel your project (all the way or just partially). Supposedly the term derives from “rip it, rip it” which sounds like a frogs croak.

HOTN means hot of the needles. It usually refers to the fact that the maker might not even have blocked or possibly didn’t even weave in ends before taking a picture.

HO means half-finished object (as opposed to FO, finished object)

SABLE means stash acquired beyond life expectancy. It describes a knitter who has such a huge stash of yarn that even if they were to knit as much as they could and not buy any more yarn, they still wouldn’t use it up until the end of their life.

SSS means second sock syndrome or second sleeve syndrome and refers to a knitter being not motivated enough to finish the final parts of their projects – often because it’s too boring to knit the exact same thing again.

Stash describes your total knitting yarn reserves.

Tink = ‘knit’ read the other way round. Refers to reverse knitting. It’s a more careful way to unravel your project. Often used, if you only need to unravel a couple of rows or less, or you are working with a very delicate/fuzzy yarn.

UFO is the opposite of an FO and stands for unfinished object. In contrast to WIP, it usually refers to a project that has been idle for a long time.

WIP means work in progress and generally describes just any knitting project you are currently actively working on.

Knitting stitch Abbreviations

Brk = brioche knit; a double stitch consisting of a slipped stitch and a yarnover that is decreased with a k2tog when knitting the brioche stitch

bk3tog = brioche knit 3 together. A simple right-leaning decrease for the brioche stitch

Br4st dec = brioche four stitch decrease. A very complicated double decrease for the brioche stitch.

brkyobrk  = brioche knit yarn over brioche knit. A simple centered increase for the brioche stitch. Can also be elongated to brkyobrkyobrk – this is a very similar double increase.

BrP = brioche purl, a double stitch consisting of a slipped stitch and a yarnover that is decreased with a p2tog when knitting the brioche stitch.

bsk2p = brioche slip, knit 2, pass. A right-leaning brioche decrease

BYO = backward yarn over; often also reverse yarn often

CDI = Central double increase – a centered increase (Meaning it is not leaning to one side) that increases by two stitches

C4B/C4F = Cable four back/front. A simple 2×2 cable stitch; Also possible with higher numbers like C6B or even C8B – the number always shows you the total width of the cable in stitches

CDD = centered double decrease; a variation of k3tog

CDDP = centered double decrease purl; a variation of p3tog

CSD = centered single decrease

CSDB = centered single decrease back

DI = Double increase – also known as Make two

G st = garter stitch, the most basic knitting stitch pattern

K = knit stitch; sometimes used in a context where it means you have to knit a whole row. eg. Row 1: k

K2tog = knit two together; a right-leaning decrease.

K2tog left = knit two together left; a neat left-leaning decrease

K2tog tbl = knit two together through the back loop; a left-leaning decrease.

K3tog = knit three together; can appear in a couple of different variations, like k3tog centered (also known as center double decrease) or k3tog left.

K1B/K2B/K3B etc = knit one/two/three below. A technique typically used when knitting the bubble stitch or the fisherman’s rib stitch.

KLL = Knit left loop; a right-leaning increase; sometimes also called LLI – left-lifted increase.

KRL = Knit right loop; a left-leaning increase; sometimes also called RLI – right-lifted increase.

KFB / K1 F&B = the knitting abbreviation kfb stands for knit front and back; it’s a left leaning-increase that leaves a little decorative bar behind. It’s also known as bar increase for that reason.

KFSB = Knit front, slip back; and optimized version of the classic KFB increase; also left-leaning but less visible.

KBF = knit back an front; very similar to KFB but leaves a less pronounced bar.

ktbl = knit through the back loop; results in twisted knit stitches; also known as k1b or k1tbl

k1b= knit through the back loop, can also be abbreviated as ktbl.

KYOK = knit, yarn over, knit into the same stitch again is an increase technique used when knitting stacked increases.

LLPI = left lifted purl increase; also known as PLL – purl left loop or PLLI – purled left loop increase

LTCO = long tail cast- on. One of the most popular ways to start a knitting project.

LPT = left purl travel; a left-leaning cable cross where the second stitch (the one that ends up below) is a purl stitch.

M1L = Make one left; a left-leaning increase.

M1 = Make one; the most simple knitting increase; often also used to refer to just any increase.

M1R = Make one right; a right-leaning increase.

M1BL = Make one back loop; a simple left-leaning increase and a way to cast on stitches at the end of a row.

M1PL = Make one purl left; a simple left-leaning increase for the wrong side; sometimes also M1Lp

M1PR = Make one purl right; a simple right-leaning increase for the wrong side; sometimes also M1Rp

M2 = Make Two, also known as double increase.

MB = make bobble

Mds = make double stitch; a special technique that is used when you are knitting short rows (like for a German short row sock heel, etc).

P = purl stitch; sometimes also means you have to purl a full row.

P1B/P2B/P3B = purl one below, purl two below, or purl three below.

P2tog = purl two together; a left-leaning decrease for the purl side.

P2tog tbl = purl two together through the back loop; a right-leaning decrease for the purl side.

P3tog = purl three together.

P3tog tbl = purl three together through the back loop. A right-leaning double purl decrease.

pfb/p1 f&b = purl front back; a purl increase that leaves a little bar.

pbf = purl back and front. Another bar increase for the wrong side.

PLL = purl left loop; also known as the left-lifted purl increase

PM = place (stitch) marker

PNSO = pass next stitch over

PRL = purl right loop; also known as the right-lifted purl increase

PSSO = this term “means pass stitch over” and usually comes with additional information like sl1, ki1, psso – slip one stitch, knit one stitch, and pass over the second stitch.

ptbl = purl through the back loop; results in a twisted purl stitch.

Pu = pick up (stitches)

RPT = right purl travel; a right-leaning cable cross of two stitches where the first stitch (the one that ends up below) is a purl stitch.

SB2 = slip back 2; Means slipping two increased stitches back to the left needle purlwise when knitting stacked increases.

sel or sel s = selvage, selvedge, or selvage stitch. A group of special knitting stitches that great a nice edge that is ready to be worn/used without further grafting. Origin = self-finished edge.

sk = skip

SL st = slipped stitches; stitches you slipped before.

SL or S = slip one stitch without knitting it; may appear in the combination purlwise or knitwise to tell you how you need to insert your needle before slipping (Sl1k/Sl1p). Often as SL1 or SL2 (slip one/slip two). As a rule of thumb: When no direction is indicated it probably means slipping the stitch purlwise.

slk/slip knot = a simple knot; often used to start a cast-on

sm = slip marker

st st = stockinette stitch a very popular and smooth knitting stitch pattern.

SSK = the knitting abbreviation SSK stands for Slip slip knit; it’s a neat left-leaning decrease.

SKP = slip 1 knitwise, knit 1, pass slip stitch over the knit stitch

SSP = slip, slip, purl; a right-leaning decrease for the wrong side.

tbl = through back loop

tbf = through front loop

TL/TR = Traveling left/Traveling right; the two simple cable crosses when Bavarian twisted stitches. Also known as T2L/T2R – twist two to the left/right. Sometimes appears as RT and LT (right travel, left travel)

W&T = wrap and turn. A short rows knitting technique. Sometimes also w@t.

WON = wool over needle

WRN = wool round needle

Wyib = with yarn in back.

Wyif = with yarn in front; Often appears in combination with a slipped stitch and tells you where you need to hold the yarn. Double Stockinette Stitch is one of these cases.

yfwd = yarn forward; sometimes also yf

YO = Yarn over – a simple increase that creates an eyelet; popular stitch in lace patterns.

YO2 = yarn over twice

YRN = yarn round needle. An increase similar to a yarn over for the purlside.

Abbreviations & terms used for knitting yarn

DK = double knitting weight yarn; not to be confused with double knitting – which is a popular knitting technique that does not specifically require it.

Fingering = A fine yarn (typically 4-ply) for needle sizes 2.25 – 3mm. Read more about fingering weight yarn here.

Hank = yarn wound in a long loop, twisted into a cord, and secured with a knot (and sometimes further threads). 

Ply = the amount of single strands a yarn is composed of by twisting them together. A 4-ply yarn is composed of four single strands.

Skein =  yarn wound into an oblong bundle; find out more about skeins here.

Superwash = yarn that has been chemically treated to remove scales from its surface. This prevents felting and allows to machine wash a knitted fabric (using a special program).

WPI = wraps per inch. A method to determine yarn weight

So, that was my glossary with all the important knitting terms. Feel free to comment below if you need any further help or would like me to add something.

Knitting terms and techniques - the ultimate glossary

53 thoughts on “Knitting Terms, Abbreviations, and techniques – a Glossary”

    • That doesn’t ring a bell Suzanne. And without context i probably couldn’t tell either. Might “over needle” or “of needle”

      Reply
  1. Jennie again. I should have typed in the line of instructions so you have context.

    11 Row: S1, k5, * yrn, k3, slip the first stitch of these 3sts over the 2 and 3rd sts;
    repeat from * to last 5sts, k5

    Thanks again,
    Jennie

    Reply
    • YRN typically stands for yarn round needle. It’s an increase. More or less a yarnover purlwise. The distinction is kinda important for english knitters. I’ll add it to the list now.

      Reply
  2. I was told to double knit each stitch to make a stronger collar for my project. Is double knit what I do when I increase…..knit front and back? I dont want to iincrease so just how do you double knit?

    Reply
  3. I’m working on my first knitting project after many years, and I’d only made a few things even then. I understand most of this sentence, but does p2-96 stitches at the end mean to purl stitch 2 through stitch 96?

    P3, M1 purlwise, [p9, M1 purlwise] 9 times, p2-96 stitches.

    Thanks.

    Reply
  4. I am excited to have your knitting glossary. Thank you for making it so comprehensive and easy to follow even for the newest knitters, which I am. I am working on my first project.

    Reply
  5. Hi Norman, what about Brioche Purl (BrP)? Or did I miss it?
    P.S.: Don’t you just love how Brioche abbreviations are said out loud, “Bark” (BrK), and “Burp” (BrP)? LOL

    Thank you for taking the time to create this glossary!

    Reply
  6. Hi Norman
    What does YC, LAC mean and How to do a Wave finishing?

    wave finishing stitch:
    1st row: *2st, loop* , finish with2 sts.
    2nd row: p.

    In next row, begin inc for raglan as explained: 6st, yc,2p,yc,12p,yc,2p,yc,24p,yc,2p,yc, 12p,lac,2p,lac,24p,lac,2p,lac,12p,lac,2p,lac,6p.
    In the even rows, work normally and in the odd rows, continue making loops on both sides of each group of 2p shown above.
    Knit like this until you complete 40 rows(=228p).

    Thank You for your help.

    Reply
    • I am sorry diane, I don’t think I can help you there. Seems like some specific abbreviations the designer is using. I would suppose with loop they mean a yarn over, but otherwise, I am lost. I could probably work it out with a picture but just by reading it, I can only guess and this could be totally wrong.

      Reply
  7. In an otherwise normal sock pattern I came across this. What is meant by “turn, turn”? It is while doing a heel. In all the other rows she just says turn.
    …k2, yo, ssk, k1, ssk, turn,turn.
    It doesn’t seem to be a typo. The pattern writer is from NZ if that helps.
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • I really very difficult for me to say. It could be their way to describe a certain short-row-technique or an ornamental wrap. But typically, I would say this could be a copy-paste error.
      Though I am a bit puzzled, a heel with eyelets? interesting.

      Reply
    • doesn’t really ring a bell, Tracey. d typically abbreviates “double”, the c “cross”…but h? half…double half cross. Doesn’t really make a lot of sense in my opinion.

      Reply
  8. There are a few ways to M1. My pattern says .put a backward loop over the right needle” for an increase of 1st. Can this be demonstrated? Thank you.

    Reply
  9. I am creating an armhole for a long coat. The first row says:
    1. row, RS: Let the first 4 sts on the side of the neck rest.

    What does this mean? Do I bind it off, or use a stitch holder and use them later? I can’t really tell from the rest of the rows – I’m copying them below.

    Reply
    • Hey Lynne,
      please do not EVER copy a pattern here in the comment section again. It takes a designer a lot of time and effort to create it and it should never be copied in any form without their explicit consent.
      Apart from being a copyright infringement, it’s not exactly very supportive either. Thank you for your understanding.
      And yes, it probably means stitch holder. But you will only know for sure if you contact the respective designer.

      Reply
  10. Ok so I bought this pattern off etsy and I didn’t get far when I came across the phrase “join in timberwolf (tw)”. What does this mean and how do i do it? Please let me know.

    Reply
    • I have no idea, Taylor. Sounds like the name of a yarn. But if you bought it on etsy, you can always contact the seller, right?

      Reply
  11. Beginner here. Is the “working needle” the one with the yarn or is the working needle the one that you work into? Looked everywhere, must be a very basic term.

    Reply
  12. Hi what does it mean when pattern says place (total 7 pcs) instead of the signs ,,/” : thankyou looking forward from hearing back from you sharon dick

    Reply
    • Very difficult to say without context. Could be something like beads (7 pieces) but I think the problem here is making sense of the pattern and not the actual abbreviations or did I misread this?

      Reply
    • Hi Norman, thank you so much for all of your hard work!
      I have one suggestion/request: whenever the pattern calls to “slip” a stitch, or even in the ssk or other stitches, can you please clarify in your glossary if it is slip knitwise or slip purlwise?
      I know when I was a beginner I was always incredibly confused how to slip stitches, when to use which and why.
      Thank you!

      Reply
      • Hey Lota,
        here’s the problem as I cannot do that. The pattern has to do that. A good pattern has to tell you slip 1 purlwise with yarn in front. Or slip 1 purlwise twisted with yarn in back.
        Slip 1 is just the action of slipping itself and it CAN be anything.
        Typically, when nothing is said, it means slip one purlwise.

        Reply
  13. Norman, thanks for all the work you put into your blog and YouTube. I am trying to knit an Aran sweater and find the T3f in different patterns are described differently. Some have the cable in front and others in the back. And the same with T3b. Shouldn’t they be the same in all patterns? I find myself getting confused. Thanks for your help.

    Reply
    • Well…they should. But when it comes to knitting patterns there are a lot of these “shoulds”. So, my tip to you is just look at the pictures for confirmation!
      Some confusion may arise when people knit cables without a cable needle..but even there it remains the same. So i have no other tip for you, Marie!

      Reply
  14. Hi, I’m trying to find instructions on how to graft a border. The stitches on the top of the sleeves are not cast off and I’m told to graft them into the sleeve opening.
    HELP

    Reply
    • Hey Caroline,
      please contact the respective designer. If you need general grafting help, you will find many tutorials here on my blog. kindly use the search function.

      Reply

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