Whether you are new to knitting or have been knitting for years, understanding knitting abbreviations and knitting terms is essential. Just like crochet, knitting has its own unique language filled with terms that can be overwhelming. Fear not!
Below, I have created a comprehensive list of all the most commonly used knitting terms and abbreviations.
Understanding knitting terms will open up a world of possibilities. You will be able to read patterns and connect with fellow knitters. Knowing knitting terms is the secret to achieving success in your knitting projects.
A-Z List of the Most Common Knitting Terms and Knitting Abbreviations
- Ball Band
A ball band is a label or band that is wrapped around a ball or skein of yarn. The ball band typically contains important information about the yarn, such as the brand, fibre content, weight, yardage, care instructions, and recommended needle and hook sizes.
- Ball End of Yarn
The ball end of yarn refers to the yarn that extends from your knitting needles back to the ball or skein of yarn.
- Ball Winder
A ball winder is a tool used to wind skeins or hanks of yarn into neat and compact centre-pull balls. It usually consists of a rotating spindle, a handle, and a yarn guide.
Beg is an abbreviation used to indicate the beginning or starting point of a specific instruction or step in a knitting pattern.
Blocking refers to the process of shaping the final dimensions of a knitted piece. It involves wetting the fabric and shaping it using a blocking board or mat. Blocking helps to even out stitches, relax the drape, and improve the appearance.
BO is used interchangeably for the knitting terms bind off and cast-off. It is a technique used to secure the stitches at the edge of a knitted piece, ensuring they do not unravel.
A bobbin is a small tool used to hold a smaller amount of yarn. Bobbins are helpful when working with multiple colours or when carrying yarn across the back of the work.
BOR is an abbreviation used for both knitting terms beginning of row and beginning of round.
- Break the Yarn
Break the yarn refers to intentionally cutting the yarn between your project and the ball or skein of yarn.
A cable refers to a knitting technique used to create interlaced or twisted stitches that form a decorative pattern.
A cake refers to a specific shape a ball or skein of yarn can be wound into. Unlike traditional round balls, a cake is typically flat on top and bottom.
- Cast Off
Cast off is used interchangeably with the knitting terms bind off and BO. It is a technique used to secure the stitches at the edge of a knitted piece, ensuring they do not unravel.
Cast on refers to the process of making the first row of stitches on the knitting needle. It is the initial step when starting a new project.
CC is an abbreviation for contrasting colour. It is commonly used when referring to a second colour of yarn used in a knitting project.
- Circular Knitting
Circular knitting is also known as tubular knitting. It is a technique where you create a seamless fabric using double-pointed needles.
CN is an abbreviation for cable needle.
CO is an abbreviation that can be used for both knitting terms cast on and cast off.
Colourwork refers to a knitting technique where multiple colours of yarn are used to create designs in fabric. The colours can be used to make intricate motifs, stripes, or geometric shapes.
- Continental Method
The Continental method, also known as Continental knitting or picking. It is a knitting style where the yarn is held in the left hand while working the stitches.
Course refers to a horizontal row of stitches that runs across the width of the knitted fabric. It is also called a row or round.
DEC is an abbreviation for decrease. It is a technique used to reduce the number of stitches in a row or round.
- Double Knitting
Double knitting is a technique to create two layers of fabric simultaneously. Double knitting results in a reversible fabric with no visible wrong side.
DPNS is an abbreviation for double-pointed needles. Double-pointed needles are knitting needles that have points on both sides.
- Dropped Stitches
A dropped stitch is a stitch that has accidentally slipped off the knitting needle. A dropped stitch can create an unwanted hole.
- English Method
The English method is also known as English knitting or throwing. It is a knitting style where the yarn is held in the right hand while working the stitches.
Entrelac is a technique used to create a textured fabric with a woven or basket-like appearance. It can be worked in a single colour or multiple colours.
EON stands for end of needle in standard knitting. In machine knitting, it stands for every other needle.
EOR is an abbreviation for end of row and end of round.
- Fair Isle
Fair Isle knitting is a technique named after Fair Isle, a small island in Scotland. It involves working with multiple colours of yarn in a single row or round. The technique creates colourful, intricate patterns.
Felting involves intentionally or accidentally agitating the fibres of a knitted fabric. The agitation causes the fibres to bind together, resulting in felt.
- Finger Knitting
Finger knitting is a technique that uses your fingers instead of knitting needles.
FO is an abbreviation for finished object. The term is often used when discussing a completed project.
Frogging refers to the act of unravelling or undoing stitches. It is done to correct a mistake or repurpose the yarn for another project. You will often hear the term “rip it, rip it” used in connection with the process.
- Front of Work
The front of work in knitting refers to the side of the fabric that is facing you while you are knitting. It can either be the “right” side or the “wrong” side of the knitting.
Gauge refers to the number of stitches and rows per inch or centimetre in a knitted fabric.
Halo refers to the soft, fuzzy, and fluffy fibres that surround a strand of yarn. Different types of yarns will have more or less noticeable halos.
A hank refers to a specific form of yarn presentation or packaging. It is a loose, untwisted bundle of yarn, typically sold in a looped or coiled form. Hanks need to be wound before use.
An i-cord is a knitted tube. I-cords can be used in various ways such as drawstrings, handles, and embellishments. They are often knit using double-pointed needles or French knitting dolls.
INC is an abbreviation for increase. It is a technique used to increase the number of stitches in a row or round.
Intarsia is a colourwork technique used that allows you to create large, distinct blocks of colour within a knitted fabric. It involves working with multiple yarn colours on separate yarn bobbin or balls of yarn.
A jog is a noticeable step or misalignment that often occurs when transitioning from one round to the next in circular knitting. There are some techniques you can use to make the jog less noticeable. This can be important when changing colours.
Joining is also referred to as seaming and making up. It is the process of sewing or connecting 2 pieces of knitted cloth together.
KAL is an abbreviation for knit-along. It refers to an activity where knitters work on the same pattern or theme at the same time. This can be done either in person or online.
Knitwise is a term used to describe the direction in which a stitch is worked. When a stitch is worked knitwise, the needle is inserted from the front to the back as if to knit it.
LH stands for left hand. It refers to the actions that need to be performed by the left hand.
A lifeline is a contrasting piece of yarn or thread that is thread through a row of live stitches. It acts as a safety net providing an easy way to go back to a specific point in your knitting if you make a mistake.
- Live Stitch
Live stitches are the active stitches currently on the knitting needle.
MC stands for main colour. It refers to the primary or dominant colour used in colourwork and multi-coloured knitting projects.
- Negative Ease
Negative ease refers to a sizing technique. It intentionally creates a finished garment or item that is smaller than the actual body measurements or intended size. Negative ease creates a snug, form-fitting fit.
Notions are the tools and accessories that are used in knitting. They can be used during the knitting process or after the project is complete to enhance the finished project.
Pilling refers to the small, fuzzy balls of fibre that can develop on the surface of a knitted fabric.
Ply refers to the number of individual strands or plies that are twisted together to create a single strand of yarn.
- Positive Ease
Positive ease refers to a sizing technique. It intentionally creates a finished garment or item that is larger than the actual body measurements or intended size. Positive ease creates a loose, more relaxed fit.
Purlwise is a term used to describe the direction in which a stitch is worked. When a stitch is worked purlwise, the needle is inserted from the back to the front as if to purl it.
The letter R is often used for the knitting terms row or round.
The abbreviation REP means repeat. It indicates a specific set of stitches or instructions should be repeated a certain number of times.
- Reverse Shaping
Reverse shaping refers to the process of creating a mirrored image of a specific instruction.
RH stands for right hand. It refers to the actions that need to be performed by the right hand.
Rib is a type of stitch pattern that creates a textured, elastic fabric with vertical columns. It is a versatile technique that can be both functional and decorative. ( Rib Knit Stitch Tutorial )
A round is a complete row of stitches worked in a circular knitting project.
A row is a horizontal line of stitches worked across the width of the knitting project.
RS stands for right side. It refers to the side of the knitted fabric that is intended to be the front side of the project.
Selvedge refers to the edge stitches of a knitted fabric. The edge stitches are usually worked differently to create a neat, finished edge.
A skein is a unit of yarn loosely wound bundle or hank of yarn. It is typically twisted into a compact, oblong shape.
ST is an abbreviation for stitch.
Steek is a technique used to create openings or slits in a knitted fabric. It involves deliberately cutting through a section of knitted stitches. Before steeking can be done, additional reinforcement stitches are required.
A swift is a tool used to hold and unwind hanks or skeins of yarn into usable balls or cakes.
- Tail End
The tail end refers to the loose end of yarn that is left when you begin a new project or after joining a new ball of yarn.
Tink is the word knit spelled backward. It is a term used to describe the process of undoing stitches one by one.
Wales are individual, vertical columns of stitches. They run from the bottom to the top of a knitted piece.
- Working Yarn
Working yarn refers to the active strand of yarn that you use to create stitches as you knit.
WS stands for wrong side. It refers to the side of the knitted fabric that is not intended to be seen.
Learn the language of knitting with this list of knitting abbreviations and terms
Understanding knitting terms and abbreviations is critical for all knitters, regardless of experience. These terms are used as a language. Knowing the terms allows you to follow patterns, fix mistakes, and unleash your creative potential.
From cast on to bind off, cables to colourwork, knowing the knitting terms and knitting abbreviations before you start your project is key to completing it.
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