Knitting Terms
Understanding all those Knitting Words and Phrases

So, what do all those knitting terms and words actually mean?  Maybe you are looking at some knitting pattern instructions and scratching your head.

Or maybe you've seen some pretty weird terms or words like frogging knitting or tinking and you just can't seem to wrap your head around what they could possibly mean.  After all this is just knitting stuff.

Terms and phrases in knitting are like shorhand and it's a special language in a way. 

It's used to shorten a long knitting pattern and it actually makes the pattern a little more interesting.  It also makes it easier to read too. 

Can you imagine how long a knitting pattern would be if they spelled out every single word?  Gees I never even thought of that.  If it's an intricate pattern you can be reading it for hours.

Or nodding off....I'm bad for that when I read.  Ha

Understanding knitting terms and phrases will get a lot easier as you go along.  And the more you read patterns and various knitting books and such you'll find that it all starts to make more sense.  Eventually you won't even give it another thought.  You'll just know and understand what it all means.

It just takes practice.

I have created a basic list of common knitting terms to get you started; kind of like a knitting glossary which I will continue to add to as I go along.

As with everything knitting there is always a new knitting word, phrase or knitting term that seems to pop up but you'll learn them as you go along.

Glossary of Knitting Terms

Knitting Terms
M e a n i n g
as established Work pattern or series of steps as previously set - in other words you may see something like 'continue working pattern as established'
as if to knit Knitwise; begin knitting next stitch like you are going to knit it
at the same time Working more than one set of instructions at the same time. So you may read something like - Continue working pattern at the same time decreasing stitches at each end of row.
back of work The back of work is the side that faces away from you when you are holding the needles.
block When you have finished your knitting most patterns tell you to block your work. It is a finishing technique where you lay your pieces out flat and dampen or steam them which helps to form and shape them. It makes the stitches stand out better.
cont in patt Continue in pattern - Continue working pattern as established previously
ending with RS row Last row to work will be a right side row so you may see - Continue working as established ending with a right side (RS) row
ending with WS row Last row to work will be a wrong side row so you may see - Continue working as established ending with a wrong side (WS) row.
every other row Work instructions on alternate rows for instance - Continue increasing stitches every other row or Continue increasing stitches on alternate rows. So you will increase on one row, work a regular row without increasing and then increase on the next and so on
frogging What is frogging you might ask? Now you've heard everything! Well this knitting term is used when knitters have to "frog" rip out their knitting or unravel it all. Mistakes happen and sometimes the only way to fix it is by frogging.
front of work The side facing you when you hold your needles. It can also be the right side or wrong side of the work.
knitwise as if to knit -Begin knitting the next stitch like you are going to knit it.
K the knits and P the purls Very common term to describe a pattern of knit and purl stitches. Rather than repeat the pattern over and over they may say to repeat every row knitting the knit stitches and purling the purl stitches.
on alternate rows Work particular instructions every other row.
purlwise As if to purl; begin next stitch like you are going to purl it.
reverse shaping A term usually seen in sweater patterns where the the right front and left front are the same only the shaping is reversed. You will work both fronts identical only you will reverse the increases and decreases (the shaping). If one front was decreasing stitches at the beginning of the row then one front would be decreasing stitches at the end of the row.
RS The right side that people will see.
selvage These are the edge stitches at both ends of your row of knitting. Sometimes an extra stitch or stitches is added to create a selvage edge for seaming.
small (medium, large) Common method of showing changes in the pattern for other sizes. Small is usually first and then continues with sizing in parentheses. Throughout the pattern you will follow directions for your specific size. For instance instructions for size small may be to cast on 60 stitches and for a medium cast on 66 stitches and large 72 stitches so it would look like this: CO 60 (66, 72) stitches. One thing I do is highlight the size I am working on throughout the pattern so I don't make a mistake.
tink Tink is knit spelled backwards and it's the term knitters use if they make a mistake. It means unknitting and also backward knitting. If you make a mistake that isn't too far from where you are currently knitting you can tink back to the mistake and start again. It's not usually used if you have to go back many rows though.
work even Continue knitting without making any increases or decreases
WS Wrong side - the side that won't show

Knitting terms to home

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