Are you a knitter or do you crochet? Did you learn from a parent or grandparent? Many times, the mechanics of how to knit (or crochet) are shown, but not the language.

Sure, you know how to knit 2 together, but do you know what it’s abbreviation in a pattern is? You know that you have to repeat 4 rows to complete the project, but do you know how to read a repeat in a pattern or on a chart?

Over the course of the next few weeks, we will be diving into how to read knitting and crochet patterns and charts. We will break down the symbols and abbreviations so that you can understand the language of knitting and crochet and be able to pick up any pattern (sometimes even foreign ones) and know how to read it.

We will start with abbreviations. There are a lot of abbreviations, so we will stick with the more basic ones initially. In addition, this article will focus on knit abbreviations and we will explore crochet abbreviations at a later date.

Common Knitting Abbreviations

  • K—knit, this is one of the 2 basic stitches you need to make fabric with yarn
  • P—purl, this is the second of the 2 basic stitches you need to make fabric with yarn
  • St—stitch
  • Sl—slip, you can slip a stitch as if to knit, or as if to purl
  • Inc—increase
  • Dec–decrease
  • Kfb—knit in the front and the back of the stitch, this technique creates a new stitch on the needle
  • Yo—yarn over, this is another type of increase the is created by wrapping the working yarn around the needle
  • BO—bind off, this secures the stitches so that your fabric won’t unravel when you are finished knitting
  • CO—cast on, this is how you get your stitches onto your needle to begin knitting
  • M1—make one stitch, this is another type of increase that adds a stitch to your needles
  • K2tog—knit 2 together, this takes one stitch away from your total count of stitches; the resulting stitch will lean to the right as you are knitting
  • Ssk—slip as if to knit, slip as if to knit, knit both slipped stitches through the back loop, this decreases a stitch and will lean to the left
  • M (sm, pm)—marker (slip marker, place marker), markers are used to mark your position in your fabric; when knitting in the round, it is used to marker the beginning of the round (BOR); it can also be used to section an area that uses a different stitch pattern than other sections of the fabric
  • Cn—cable needle, when working cables, you twist the stitches and knit a second set of stitches, and then knit the first set. This is accomplished by placing the first set of stitches onto a cable needle so they are held out of the way (either in the back or front of the work) while the second set of stitches are knit, then you either return the first set of stitches to the left needle or knit them from the cable needle

These are but a few of the basic stitches and their abbreviations. With this information, you can knit anything from a blanket or scarf to a full sweater or even a shaped shawl. The basic stitches of knitting are the knit stitch and the purl stitch. Everything else are variations on how those two stitches are manipulated.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this list of abbreviations. I’ll be back next week with basic crochet abbreviations.

P. S. Do you know how to read patterns, or are you just learning how? Leave a comment and let me know!

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