Knitting Abbreviations

Understanding abbreviations isn't hard

If you've been knitting for a long time, knitting abbreviations in project instructions aren't new to you. For the beginner knitter, however, these abbreviations can be confusing. While there isn't one standard across-the-board abbreviation chart, most publications try and use the same symbols and abbreviations so that knitters can universally understand the instructions.

Common Knitting Abbreviations

What abbreviations are knitters most likely to encounter in a pattern? These are some of the more common ones:

  • K=knit
  • P=purl
  • YO=yarnover
  • SSK=slip, slip, knit
  • SKP=slip 1, knit 1, pass slip stitch over
  • K2tog=knit two together
  • P2tog=purl two together
  • PSSO=pass slipped stitch over
  • RS=right side
  • WS=wrong side
  • Sts=stitches
  • MC=main color
  • CC=contrasting color
  • CO=cast on
  • BO=bind off
  • St st=stockinette stitch
  • Dec=decrease
  • Inc=increase
  • M1=make one
  • Wyif=with yarn in front
  • Wyib=with yarn in back
  • Sl=slip
  • Rep=repeat
  • Cont=continue
  • RH=right hand
  • LH=left hand
  • Rnd=round
  • TBL=through back loop
  • Tog=together
  • PM=place marker

Knitting Abbreviations on the Internet

In addition to the many abbreviations you'll see in pattern instructions, if you regularly read knitting blogs, you may encounter even more abbreviations. Some that you may see on knitters' Internet journals include:

  • WIP=work in progress
  • DPN=double pointed needles
  • FO=finished object
  • UFO=unfinished object
  • SEX=stash enhancement eXpedition
  • SABLE= stash acquirement beyond life expectancy

Knit bloggers tend to be a friendly bunch and are usually very open to newbies' questions. If there are any abbreviations you don't understand on message boards, blogs or forums, don't be afraid to ask. An experienced knitter will no doubt answer your questions because at one point, everyone was a newbie.

Why Abbreviations are Necessary

Why all the code in knitting instructions? If you look at many patterns, you'll see that they can be pages long even with abbreviations! If all instructions were written out, even the simplest project would cover multiple pages. Knitting abbreviations are necessary to confine pattern instructions to a more manageable size. The good news is that once you begin knitting and reading patterns on a regular basis, abbreviations are easy to learn. What looked like another language at first will soon become a familiar part of your crafting lexicon.

Geographical Differences

Because needles sizes aren't standard all around the world, there are a few differences in abbreviations between ones commonly used in the United States versus ones used in Great Britain. One of the most common variations you'll find is:

  • YF=yarn forward; this is the same as yarnover in America. Also seen as YON or yarn over needle and YRN or yarn round needle. They all mean the same thing, so in case you come across a pattern that was written in the United Kingdom, you'll know that YF means the same as YO.

Pattern Writing

If you've moved beyond the simple basics of knitting and want to design your own patterns, abbreviations will help in writing your project instructions. Instead of spelling out every single "knit," you only have to write or type "K." While there may be slight variations between knitters around the world, for the most part, knitting abbreviations are readily understood by the people who enjoy this craft.

Understanding Abbreviations

As with any craft, knitting has its own shorthand. Crochet and sewing have abbreviations common to them as well. While it may feel overwhelming to look at pages of what appears to be code language, don't think you have to learn everything overnight. The comfort of comprehending abbreviations will develop as your knitting skill develops. If it helps, you can always keep a notebook handy with the most common abbreviations spelled out until you become more familiar with them. Likewise, you can write out simple patterns yourself in longhand. While most pattern booklets, magazines and books will contain knitting abbreviations, there are beginner-level publications that spell everything out for the new knitter as well.

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Knitting Abbreviations