Top Ten Knitting Abbreviations You Need To Know

Written by on June 25, 2013 in Lifestyle - No comments | Print this page


pink-knittingThe first time you pick up a knitting pattern you could be forgiven for thinking it’s written in a foreign language.

Knitting uses its own particular form of shorthand, and if you’re not familiar with terms like skpo or k2tog you probably feel like giving up before you’ve even started.

Most knitting patterns will explain their abbreviations but not all do, so some of the most common abbreviations are listed below.

K = Knit

Knit is the basic stitch which you learn when starting out with the craft. An instruction such as K5 means that you knit 5 stitches. Several rows of knitting together is known as garter stitch, and this forms a bumpy finish.

P = Purl

The other major stitch is purl, which is almost like knitting backwards. Doing one row of knit stitches followed by one row of purl stitches is known as stocking stitch, or st st in abbreviations, and stocking stitch gives a smooth surface to the finished item.


This abbreviation means knit two together. It is often used to decrease the number of stitches on the needle and rather than slipping your needle into one stitch, you slip it into two at the same time.


CO means cast on and is often the first instruction in a pattern. An instruction of CO 100 tells you to cast on 100 stitches to form the basis of whatever you are knitting.


BO is bind off and means casting off all or some of the stitches in your knitting. Casting or binding off is done by passing stitches over each other as you go to form a smooth edge.


This is a slightly more complicated instruction in that it means slip one stitch from the left needle to the right without knitting, knit one stitch as normal, then pass the slipped stitch over the one you just knitted. It is a way of decreasing as you knit.


CN means cable needle and is something you will only come across when knitting more complicated patterns using Artesano aran and similar yarns. Cable needles are used to hold stitches out of the way while you knit others and help form the twisting cables associated with traditional Aran knitting patterns.


Yarn over is a way of making a decorative increase. Yarn over just means winding the yarn once around the right hand needle which makes an additional stitch, but also makes a hole in the fabric. It is often used in lace patterns.


Rounds are used instead of rows when working on circular needles as you create a tube or fabric rather than a flat piece. Knitting on circular needles can take some getting used to but means you don’t later have to go through the process of sewing up seams.

CC and MC

If you are using a pattern which requires more than one colour of yarn, MC means main colour and CC means contrast colour. On some complex patterns you can have dozens of contrast colours so it is important to keep track of which is which by sticking samples of your yarn onto the pattern for reference.

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Guest article by blogger Morag Peers. Morag is both a keen knitter and blogger, writing for a number of different knitting sites including Yarnfest an online store and blog who sell a great range of Colinette Point 5 yarn. Check out Morag on Google + for more great articles.


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