Learning Knitting Terms without Feeling Overwhelmed

After looking over the list of knitting terms it is easy to understand why so many people feel overwhelmed. Not only is the list long but along with terms an individual would need to have knowledge of abbreviations used.

Making things somewhat more difficult is the fact that terms are supported with expressions and abbreviations consist of capitalized letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and combinations of everything. While this might all be somewhat confusing initially, with time both terms and abbreviations become easier to understand and work with.

We also want to mention that in order for a person to create amazing things, it is imperative to master terms and abbreviations associated with knitting. After all, these provide knitters with a type of roadmap showing the appropriate steps necessary for a project to be completed on a particular pattern.

Without doubt, there is a learning curve involved but with time and as more and more patterns are completed, a person would get to the point of simply glancing at the information rather than studying a reference guide.

The Value of Abbreviations for Knitting

All knitting patterns have terms and abbreviations, thereby making it easier to determine the degree of difficulty and time involved for completing a particular project. With this, a pattern would be chosen based on the person’s current skill level.

This information is much like the details provided on the back of sewing patterns although the difference is that sewing patterns list recommended fabrics, yardage of fabric needed, required notions, and size of the finished garment whereas information on knitting patterns is provided in the form of terms and abbreviations.

Each term and abbreviation has a very specific meaning, which is why becoming familiar with them is essential. Often, a person will categorize terms and conditions by skill. That way, a beginner would only need to learn those for simpler projects but as the ability to knit improves, the next set of terms and abbreviations would be studied.

By the time an individual becomes an expert, all of the terms and abbreviations would be well known and understood.

Supporting Expressions

While many abbreviations are self-explanatory, terms are a much greater challenge to learn. If a person is learning to knit by taking classes, term expressions would be part of the curriculum taught by the instructor. Remember, learning all knitting terms comes with experience so a beginner would not yet have full command of this information so an individual should not become frustrated. Even after mastering basic terms and abbreviations it would be possible to complete an array of amazing projects.

Examples of Beginner Terms

For sake of example, we provided some terms that a beginner should know. Remember, it takes time to learn all this information so if wanted, a person could shop for patterns taking a reference guide along.

  • “As Established” – When learning to knit from an instructor, a person would be provided with instructions that consist of a series of steps or patterns. Rather than being told to repeat the steps for every row being knitted, the instructor would simply say or the pattern would indicate “as established.”  This particular term would show a person the type and number of stitches that need to be repeated.
  • “At Same Time” – This is another common beginner term which means that two things need to occur simultaneously or “at the same time”. Even when first learning to knit, there are many patterns that require simultaneous work, something easy to forget or overlook. However, with this phrase an individual would know exactly what to do.
  • “Back of your Work” – When knitting, the back of the work faces away from the knitter. Again, this term serves as a reminder of what to do when working with yarn. It is important to note that this term is not the same as the knitting abbreviations RS and WS, which stand for right side and wrong side respectively. These abbreviations actually reference the way a finished garment would be worn whereas the term has to do with the side of the knitted item being worked.
  • “Bind Off from Each Neck Edge” – If a person decides to knit a pullover, both neckline edges would need to be worked on simultaneously. This means that the right side or RS would be shaped on the right side rows whereas the left neckline edge would be shaped on the wrong side or WS. This term indicates this to the knitter.
  • “End with a WS Row” – When a person hears or reads this term it means the current section of the project being worked should be finished by completing the last row but on the wrong side or WS.
  • “inc (or dec) Every Other Row” – In reviewing terms associated with knitting, there is one called “inc”, which means to increase and another called “dec” or decrease. Therefore, when this term appears on a knitting pattern, the individual would know that the number of stitches would need to be increased or decreased every other row by the number indicate.

More knitting abbreviations in chart form:



Probably one of the more challenging aspects of knitting is learning the different terms and abbreviations. Of the two, knitting terms tend to be more complex.

The primary reason is that supporting expressions or explanations have to be understood in order for terms to make sense.

The process of advancing from a beginner to expert knitter takes time but with patience and determination, an individual would have no trouble succeeding.


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