What Is Stitch Definition?

When you’re shopping for yarn online, you may notice that some yarns claim to have good stitch definition. But what does that really mean? 

We’ll fill you in on what stitch definition is and when you should try to use a yarn with great stitch definition.

What is stitch definition?

Stitch definition means that your stitches will be super visible. Think of a mohair sweater. Can you see what stitch the sweater uses, or does the halo of the yarn overpower everything else? Chances are that if you knit a beautiful cable up the middle of the mohair sweater, it wouldn’t be very visible.

If you used a smooth plied yarn, though, that cable would be visible even from several feet away. That is stitch definition.

What stitches work best with good stitch definition?

How do you know if you need good stitch definition in your yarn? These textured stitches can really stand out when you use a yarn with good stitch definition:

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Eve Mittens Kit


Cloudborn Wool Worsted Twist really helps the beautiful cables of this Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Eve Mitts Kit stand out. We work so hard on projects like this that features those climbing cables, so a yarn with good stitch definition can really help highlight our skills.

Square within a Square Blanket Knitting Kit

Knit and purl textures

To make sure the squares of this Square Within a Square Blanket Knitting Kit are visible, the sample above uses Sprightly Acrylic Worsted. The yarn has a tight ply, which helps all those stitches look clean and crisp.

Knit and purl combination stitches like ribbing, seed stitch, moss stitch, etc. can also benefit from a yarn with great stitch definition.

Lemon Difficult Shawl Knitting Kit


We knit brioche to admire its awesome textures, so to be sure the brioche stands out, kits like this Lemon Difficult Shawl Knitting Kit use a yarn with lots of twist. This particular sample uses Cloudborn Merino Superwash Sock Twist. Even though the yarn is a darker color, that twist really brings out the textures.

Over the Sea to Skye Lace Shawl


This Over the Sea to Skye Lace Shawl Kit features lots of different textures. To make sure each texture stands out and is visible, the kit uses Cloudborn Pima Cotton DK. This mercerized yarn is plied and has a nice, tight twist that works well with texture.

Finding yarns with good stitch definition

If you’re knitting a textured stitch, here’s what you should look for and what you might want to avoid:

Patons Classic Wool Bulky

Patons Classic Wool Bulky has plenty of twist and no halo, so it’s a great choice when you want good stitch definition.

What to look for:

  • Plied yarns
  • Smooth yarns
  • Yarn with good elasticity
  • A gauge swatch that’s crisp and tight
Rowan Kidsilk Haze Yarn

While its lofty texture is certainly lovely, save mohair yarns like this Rowan Kidsilk Haze for patterns that don’t have a lot of texture.

What to avoid:

  • Anything lofty or fuzzy
  • Yarn with beads
  • Roving or other yarn that’s single-plied

This is not to say that you can’t knit, say, a cable with a lofty yarn. We don’t really believe in strict knitting rules around here. If you find a lofty yarn you love and you want to use it on a textured project, go for it!

Swatching for stitch definition

If you aren’t sure whether your yarn has good stitch definition, work up a swatch using a textured stitch like seed stitch or even a cable. The swatch can help you see whether your beautiful texture will stand out or hide behind the halo of the yarn.

I like to pin my swatch and step back. If I can’t see the cable from a few feet away, then the yarn probably isn’t right for my project.

Do you have a favorite yarn with great stitch definition? 


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One Response to “What Is Stitch Definition?”
  1. Tanya

    PLEASE help me with brands of yarn that have good stitch definition!! I’ve searched and searched only to have my yarn fuzzy and not clean and crisp looking.