A Guide to Knitting Abbreviations

By Emily Vanek

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Reading knitting patterns can seem like interpreting another language when you first begin, which can be daunting; for example: "K5 yo, k2tog, ssk, knit to end." But don't worry, we are here to help you understand knitting abbreviations with ease. In no time you will be interpreting kfb and M1R like the pros.

guide to knitting abbreviations

Lets start with the common knitting abbreviations. These can be found in many patterns, from beginner to advanced.

  • k: knit
  • p: purl
  • co: cast on
  • bo: bind off
  • inc: increase
  • dec: decrease
  • kwise: knitwise
  • wise: purlwise
  • k2tog: knit two together
  • p2tog: purl two stitches together
  • ssk: slip two stitches on the right needle and knit them together
  • ssp: slip two stitches on the right needle and purl them together
  • kfb: knit in the front and back of the same stitch
  • pfb: purl in the front and back of the same stitch
  • M1R: make a new stitch by lifting the yarn in the space between the stitches and knitting into the front loop.
  • M1L: make a new stitch by lifting the yarn in the space between the stitches and knitting into the back loop.
  • sl st: slip stitch
  • st st: stockinette stitch
  • yo: yarn ove

Now that you understand the most common abbreviations, let's dive into some of trickier ones.

  • dpn: double pointed needle
  • pm: place marker
  • ktbl: knit through the back loop
  • ptble: purl through the back loop
  • k2tog tbl: knit two together through the back loops
  • p2tog tbl: purl two together through the back loops
  • skpo: slip, knit, pass slipped stitch over the knit one
  • wyib: "with yarn in back"
  • wyif: "with yarn in front"
  • psso: pass the slip stitch over

Cable knitting brings on it's own set of abbreviations. Here is a list of the most common cable knitting abbreviations. Where ever the number "2" appears below, replace it with the number of stitches your pattern calls for.

  • c2b: slip stitch purlwise to a cable needle and hold that needle in the back of your work, knit the next stitch, then knit the stitch off of the cable needle.
  • c2f: slip stitch purlwise to a cable needle and hold that needle in front of your work, knit the next stitch, then knit the stitch off of the cable needle.

Now that you know all about knitting abbreviations, it should make pattern reading a lot easier! Be sure to bookmark this page so you can come back to it as a reference as you knit along. Which knitting abbreviation threw you for a loop the first time you saw it?

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