Knitting Terms and techniques – a Glossary

A massive list of all important knitting abbreviations, techniques, and terms compiled into one big glossary with tons of helpful links to tutorials

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 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 + F5 on Windows PCs) to find a specific term more quickly.

Standard 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.

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.

CN = Cable needle used for knitting the cable stitch

CO = Cast on

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 on continuous line).

Dec(s): decrease(s)

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

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

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.

R = Row or round

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 to add a zipper/open front. Special preparation and seaming are needed before you can cut it to avoid unraveling.

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

WS = wrong side or backside of a knitting project.

Popular knitting terms in forums & social media

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. Most knitters will use this

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.

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 yarn over 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 – which a very similar the double increase.

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

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

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.

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 = knit front and back; a left leaning-increase that leaves a little decorative bar behind. Also known as bar increase.

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.

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

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.

M2 = Make Two, also known as double increase.

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.

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

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.

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

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).

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

SSK = Slip slip stitch; a left-leaning decrease.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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