General Terms

Published May 25, 2016 by estherknit

Yarn 3


Acrylic was produced as knitting yarn in 1850s. It is a synthetic fibre, manufactured chiefly from oil or coal.

Alternate (alt)

To work every alternate row is to work every other row.


Angora yarn is a mohair type yarn, 1833, from the city of Ankara.

Asterisk ( * )

Knitting and crochet patterns often include instructions which are repeated across the row.  Instead of repeating these instructions, the pattern will use asterisks to indicate the repeats. The pattern might say – repeat from * to * .  The asterisk shown in a pattern row denotes that the stitches shown after this size must be repeated from that point. Sometimes more than one asterisk will be used.

At the Same Time

You are sometimes asked to work two different steps or sets of instructions at the same time.  For example, you may be shaping the armhole and the neck edge at the same time.

Back of Work

The back is the side of the work away from you as you work the current row or round.

Batwing Sleeve

A batwing sleeve is a loose sleeve cut or knitted in one piece with the body of the garment.  Similar to a dolman sleeve.

Blanket Stitch

This is a sewing term.  Blanket stitch is used for edging a knitted or crochet blanket.   Bring threaded needle out from back to front at the centre of a stitch.  Insert needle at centre of next stitch, to the right and two rows up, and out at the centre of the stitch two rows below.  Continue in this way around blanket.

Block and Pin

To block a piece of knitting, pin it out to the correct size and shape on a padded surface.  Pin each piece, wrong side facing up.  Do not distort the fabric.  Check each piece against measurements in pattern. Pin closely around edge placing pins at right angles to edges.


Bobbles are raised knots of clusters used in Aran style garments.  They are often used with cable patterns.  They stand out well against a plain background and can be worked on the knit or purl side of the fabric. They can be the same colour as the main fabric of the garment or a contrasting colour.


Bouclé comes from French ‘curly’ or ‘looped’.  Bouclé is a yarn in which one ply is shorter than the others producing loops along the whole of the yarn. Bouclé yarns may be made from wool, cotton, silk, linen, man-made fibers, or combinations of fibres


Square brackets [ ] denote instructions for larger sizes in the pattern.  Round brackets ( ) denote that this section of the pattern is to be worked for all sizes.


The cap is the shaped top of the sleeve.


A cardigan is a knitted form of sleeved waistcoat named after the Earl of Cardigan.


Cashmere is a yarn spun from the undercoat of the Kashmir goat, and also a yarn spun from fine short stapled sheep’s wool, 1882.


A yarn with a fuzzy pile protruding from all sides, cut from a woven chenille weft fabric. Chenille yarns are made from all fibres, and they are used for knitting, as well as embroidery, fringes, and tassels.

Cold Blocking

Cold blocking means to pin out the knitting to the correct size and shape on a padded surface.  Pin each piece, wrong side facing up.  Do not distort the fabric. Check each piece against measurements in pattern. Pin closely around edge placing pins at right angles to edges. Spray the knitted fabric with water.  Allow to dry naturally whilst still pinned.


Cotton yarn is spun from the fibres of the cotton plant.


To decrease is to work fewer stitches according to the instructions for shaping a piece.


Dyeing is the process of colouring fibres, yarn, or fabrics. . Yarn can be dyed in the form of skeins, muffs, packages, cheeses, cakes, chain-warps, and beams.

Dye Lot

The yarn label will give information about the dye lot.


Fingering comes from ‘fingram’ possible from French fin grain, 1681. A fingering yarn is a finely spun worsted yarn, contrasted with the woollen spun ‘wheeling’.

Front of work

The front is the side of the work facing you as you work the current row or round.


Gauge or tension refers to how lose or tight you crochet or knit your stitches. Some patterns list measurements for a certain number of stitches and/or rows. Crochet or knit a sample swatch and adjust your hook or needle size if required.


Grafting is action of darning two knitted pieces together so that the join is invisible.


To increase is to work more stitches according to the instructions for working a piece.

Kanji (漢字)

The Japanese term for the Chinese characters that are used in the modern Japanese writing system along with hiragana and katakana.  Kanji literally means han characters.

Left Front

The left front is a piece of a garment that will be worn on the left-hand side of the body..

Left-Hand Side (LHS)

The left hand side is the side nearest your left hand as you are working.


Linen yarn is a yarn spun from the fibres of flax plants.

Lopi Yarn

Lopi is unspun wool from Iceland.  Icelandic wool is single ply which means it is made in one strand.  The yarn leaves the sheep’s oils on the wool and it helps to make it more water resistant.


A lurex yarn is a metallic effect yarn, normally spun from polyester and viscose.


A mercerised yarn is a yarn chemically treated to improve strength, lustre and reception to dye.


Yarn in spun into a single long thread.  This thread is usually plied with one or more others to make up a yarn of the desired weight.  In the past, this was a good way to describe weight as plies were fairly uniform, but, today things are more complicated.  Plies have remained as yarn weight names (such as 4 ply) even though the meaning is no longer as clear.


Place a clean damp cloth over the knitting, and press the work by placing the iron onto the fabric, life the iron, and then place it down on the next part of the fabric.  Remove the cloth, leave to settle until dry with the pins still in place.


A raglan is distinguished by the cut of the sleeve and named after Lord Raglan.

Repeat (Rep; rep)

To repeat is to do the same step or stitch as just previously instructed. If the instructions read (repeat), do the same action as you just did in the (previous instruction) step.

Reverse Shaping or Mirroring

Reverse shaping is the act of working the second side of the piece’s shape at the opposite end from where it was worked for the first side.  You will be given instructions for one side of your project and told to reverse shaping for the other side, without being given detailed instructions for this second side.

Right Front

The right front is the piece of a garment that will be worn on the right-hand side of the body.

Right Side (RS)

The right side is the side of the work that will show when the project is in use.

Right-Hand Side (RHS)

The right hand side is the side nearest your right hand as you are working.


These are the drawings or diagrams of garment shapes that are used to help the knitter see the individual parts of a garment.

Selvage or Selvedge

The selvage or selvedge is the raw edge of a piece or knitting or crochet.

Skip or Miss (Sk; sk)

To skip or to miss a stitch means that you do not work the particular stitch.


Set iron to steam and hold the iron above the knitting.  Allow the steam to penetrate the whole of the fabric.  Leave to settle until cool with the pins still in place.


The tail is the end of the yarn.   So you could have a long tail cast on, or leave a long tail to sew up your garment.


The thread can include any type of yarn.


Wool is a yarn spun from the fleece of sheep.  However, sometimes the term wool includes all types of knitting yarn.

Work Even or Work Straight

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

Wraps Per Inch

One way of determining the weight of an unknown yarn is to use the wrapping method. Wrap the yarn around a ruler.  Make sure the yarn lies flat.  Push the yarn together so there are no gaps between wraps.  Smooth it out so it is neither too loose nor too tight. Measure the number of wraps per inch.  The number of wraps will act as a gauge to assess the thickness of unmarked yarn.

Wrong Side (WS)

The wrong side of the work is the side that will not show when the project is in use.

Yarn Weight

The term yarn weight refers to the thickness of the thread and not the weight of the ball of even of the thread itself.  As different fibres have different densities; a metre of an Aran wool may weigh less than a metre of a 4 ply acrylic.

Yarn 1


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