Hand Knitting Terms

Published February 1, 2016 by estherknit

Yarn 2

Bind Off (BO; bo)

To bind off or cast off is to close work by finishing with a final row -by knitting two stitches; slipping the first stitch over the second stitch; repeating with every two stitches until only one last stitch remains; and cutting yarn and looping it through the last stitch.


A simple techniques by which stitches are moved from one position to another in the same row.  This alters the order in which the stitches are knitted. Cables can be formed by manually transferring stitches to other needles on the appropriate row.  Although a complicated cable pattern can be labour intensive, cables usually work up quickly since the transfer is made on a small percentage of the rows.

Cable Four Back (C4B)

Slip next two stitches onto cable needle and hold at back of work. knit two, then knit two from cable needle.

Cable Four Front (C4F)

Slip next two stitches onto cable needle and hold at front of work. knit two, then knit two from cable needle.

Cable Six Back (C6B)

Slip next three stitches onto cable needle and hold at back of work, knit three, then knit three from cable needle.

Cable Six Front (C6F)

Slip next three stitches onto cable needle and hold at front of work, knit three, then knit three from cable needle.

Cast Off (CO; co)

To cast of is to close the knitting loops by using any one of a number of methods.

Cast Off Loosely

Some knitting projects require you to cast off loosely.  This means that the stitches need to be rather loose when they have been cast off.   One way to achieve this is to cast off using a set of needles one size larger than the needles used to knit the piece.

Cast On (CO; co)

To cast on is to begin by creating the first stitch, or to add a stitch or stitches—by making a slip loop over left needle, placing right needle through the loop, passing yarn over and under right needle, drawing yarn through loop, and transferring loop to left needle.

Cross Two Front (C2F)

Knit into front of second stitch on left hand needle, then knit first stitch, slipping both stitches off needles at the same time.

Decrease (dec)

To decrease is to work fewer stitches according to instructions for shaping a piece, most typically by

a) knitting stitches together

b) slipping a stitch and passing over the slipped stitch while knitting the following stitch.

Double Knitting

Double knitting originally meant tubular knitting on two needles.  It has now come to mean a 4 ply yarn resembling 3 ply wheeling, but stronger and softer, and twice the weight of fingering.

Fair Isle or Jacquard

Fair Isle is knitting with two colours or more in a row and stranding the unused colour behind the one being knitted.

Fully Fashioned (ff)

Fully fashioned is the shaping of knitted fabric as it is being knitted.  Fashioning appeared in machine-wrought hosiery. This is a hosier term of 1923 or later.

Garter Stitch (g.st.)

Garter stitch is a pattern using knit for every stitch and every row.  It is sometimes described as ‘every row knit’.


An I-cord is a tube of knitting.  Work on double pointed needles.  When you get to the end of the row, do not turn the work.   Now, work back on the wrong side, slide all stitches to the other end of the needle, switch the needle back to your left hand, bring the yarn around the back of the work, and start knitting the stitches again.  After the first 2 stitches, give the yarn a tug to create the tube.  Repeat this row to form the I-cord. After a few rows the work will begin to form a tube

Increase (inc)

To increase is to work additional stitches according to instructions – most typically by

a) creating two stitches from one stitch by knitting twice into the same stitch

b) creating two stitches from one stitch by purling twice into the same stitch

c) using the right needle to pick up the yarn, place it on the left needle, and knit an additional stitch into the back of the new loop created.


Intarsia is coloured knitting where there are no floats on the reverse side of the fabric.  Each block of colour has a separate piece of yarn.  It is often associated with picture knitting.

Japanese Knitting

A Japanese knitting pattern will often be little more than a set of charts with symbols and no written instructions.  The shaping and design elements are all represented in a chart with coloured pictures of the stitch pattern or the finished garment.  There will probably be no legend or explanation.  They tend to use a woollen yarn for winter garments and cottons for summer garments.

Knit (K; k)

To knit is the act of knitting. However, it is also the most common stitch. In patterns, knit is abbreviated as K and is followed by the number of stitches needed: K4 = knit four stitches.

Knit Back One (KB1)

Knit into the back of next stitch.

Knit Into the Front and Back of Stitch (Kfb; Kf&b)

Increase one stitch using the existing stitch.   Knit into the front and then the back of the next stitch.

Knit One Below (K1B; k1b; k-b)

Knit into next stitch, one row below.   Insert needle through centre of the stitch, one row below next stitch, and knit, slipping stitch above off needle at same time


Knitting is a technique to turn thread or yarn into a piece of cloth. Knitted fabric consists of horizontal parallel courses of yarn which is different from woven cloth. The courses of threads or yarn are joined to each other by interlocking loops in which a short loop of one course of yarn or thread is wrapped over the another course.

Knitting Needle (Ndl; ndl)

Normally knitting needles are used in pairs for knitting. They are a slim shaft of metal, wood or plastic, with a smooth point at one end and a knob at the other, available in many sizes.

Knit Through Back of Loop (ktbl; k1b)

See  – Through Back of Loop.

Knit Two Together (k2tog)

Decrease one stitch by knitting two stitches together.

Knit Two Together Through Back of Loops (k2tog tbl; k2togb)

Knit two stitches together, but instead of positioning the needle in the part of the loop in front of the needles as normal, put do it through the part of the loop that is on the back side of the needles

Lace Pattern

A lace pattern is a stitch pattern forming an openwork design.

Make One (M1)

To make 1 (or increase 1) is to work additional stitches according to pattern directions. It is commonly performed to shape a piece or to create a hole and extra stitch for a lacy pattern.  Usually you make one stitch by picking up horizontal loop lying before next stitch and knitting into back of loop.

Make Bobble (MB)

Make bobble by knitting back and forth across a few stitches.  For example – [(K1. yfwd) 3 times. K1] all in next st. Turn. P7. Turn. Sl1. K1. psso. K3. K2tog. Turn. P2tog. P1. P2togtbl. Turn. Sl1. K2tog. psso.   The bobble is made.

Moss Stitch

Moss stitch is the alternating of one knit stitch and one purl stitch in every row.

Pass Slipped Stitch Over (psso)

Pass slipped stitch over is the process which includes slipping one stitch (transferring the next stitch from left needle to right needle); then knitting the following stitch (yarn under then over right needle and yarn pulled through); then slipping stitch off left needle – so that slipped stitch and knitted stitch are now on right needle. Finally, the slipped stitch is lifted up and over the knit stitch and off the right needle.

Pick Up (PU)

Picking up stitches is a way to add to a piece of knitting that has been completed.

Purl (P; p)

Purl is the second most common stitch. Whereas in a knit stitch you put the right needle through the stitch from behind, in the purl stitch you place the right needle into the front of the left needle stitch.

Purl One Below (P1B or p-b)

Purl into next stitch, one row below.

Purl Through the Back of Loop (ptbl’ p1b)

Purl into the back of the stitch instead of the front of the stitch.  This gives a tighter stitch.

Purl Two Together (p2tog)

Work two stitches together as though they were one stitch.  This creates a decrease in your knitting.  This decrease slants to the right. Use this on the left hand side of the front of a garment.  On the right hand side you would use a left slanting decrease. To complete [url two together, insert right needle through two stitches at once from right to left and complete purl stitch as usual.

Reverse Stockinette or Stocking Stitch (rev.st.st.)

The smooth side of stockinette stitch is usually considered to be the right side.   However, the bumpy side can be used as the right side.   This is called reverse stockinette stitch.


A rib  is a wale of plain knitting against purl wales or vice versa.

Row (R; r)

The row is a completed series of stitches worked from one needle to the other, thereby making it time to transfer needles accordingly: from left hand needle in left hand to right hand, and right hand needle (with row) to left hand.

Slip (Sl; sl)

To slip a stitch is to transfer a stitch from left needle to right needle without adding yarn.

Slip, Knit, Pass Over (skp)

Slip one stitch, knit one stitch, pass stitch over.  One stitch is decreased.

Slip, Knit Two, Pass Over (SK2P; sk2p)

Slip one stitch, knit two together, pass slip stitch over the knit two together.  Two stitches have been decreased.

Slip One, Knit One, Pass Slipped Stitch Over (sl1, k1, psso)

Slip one stitch as if to knit, knit one stitch, pass the slipped stitch over the knit stitch.   One stitch has been decreased.

Slip, Slip, Knit (ssk)

Slip next two stitches knitwise, one at a time.  Pass them back onto left-hand needle, and then knit through back loops together. One stitch has been decreased.

Slip, Slip, Purl (ssp)

Slip next two stitches purlwise, one at a time.  Pass them back onto left-hand needle, and then purl through back loops together. One stitch has been decreased.

Slip, Slip, Slip, Knit (sssk)

Slip next three stitches knitwise, one at a time.  Pass them back onto left-hand needle, and then knit through back loops together. Two stitches have been decreased.

Slip Two; Knit One, Pass Two Over (S2KP;S2KP2)

This means: slip two stitches together, knit one, pass two slipped stitches over.

Stockinette or Stocking Stitch (st.st.)

Stockinette or stocking stitch is a stitch pattern made by alternating one row of knit and one row of purl throughout.

Three Needle Bind Off

This bind off is  used for joining two pieces of knitting.  Both sets of stitches are bound off together to create a seam.  The two needles are held together with the right sides of the knitting facing each other.  Then, knit together one stitch from each needle.  Pass the needle through the first stitch of the first needle, first stitch of the second needle, wrap the yarn, pull through, and drop both stitches off the needle to complete the first stitch.   Continue in this way until all of the stitches have been bound off.

Through Back of Loop (tbl)

To work through the back of the loop is the act of knitting (or purling) into the back of the loop on left needle, creating a twisted stitch.

Together (tog)

To work stitches together on a knitting row, the right needle (pointing left to right) works with the next two stitches (or number indicated) on the left needle, while the yarn is put under right needle, brought over the top, and pulled through both stitches at the same time; then the two stitches are dropped. On a purling row, the process is done in similar fashion but with purling actions—right needle is put through the front of left needle stitches; and yarn is brought over the top of right needle point.

Work Even or Work Straight

To work even or work straight means to continue to knit in the pattern as established without increasing or decreasing.

Wrap and Turn (W&T)

Bring the yarn to the front of the work between the needles, slip next stitch onto right-hand needle, bring yarn around this stitch to back of work, slip stitch back to left-hand needle, and turn the work to begin working back in the other direction.

Yarn Back (yb)

To yarn back is the action of putting front-sitting yarn to back, between the two needles.

Yarn Forward (yfwd)

To yarn forward is the action of bringing back-sitting yarn to the front, under the right needle.  This makes one extra stitch.

Yarn Front (yf)

To yarn front is the action of leaving the already front-sitting yarn at the front instead of moving it back for a back-sitting yarn stitch.  This will create a loop or hole.

Yarn Over (yo)

To yarn forward is the action of bringing back-sitting yarn to the front, over the right needle.  This makes one extra stitch.

Yarn Round Needle (yrn)

To yarn round needle is the action of preceding the next stitch by wrapping yarn around the right needle point (yarn starting and finishing at back for a knit stitch, yarn starting and finishing at front for a purl stitch).  This creates a hole and an extra stitch.


Yarn 1



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