Knitting Abbreviations Guide
Knitting abbreviations are used in patterns. If you are new to knitting, it may take you a bit to get used to seeing short form abbreviations in the instructions. This is done so that patterns don’t have to be mini novels. It can simplify instructions. The list is general and typically if a designer has used something unusual, they generally make a note and explain the abbreviation.
Think of the Pyramids
I compare reading stitch patterns like I am reading the shapes and special symbols of reading hieroglyphics. For those who study the pyramids, they can see symbols and know what they mean through practice. They had to look at images over and over to remember what they mean. Sometimes, they need to look them up when they are not sure.
For knitters, it’s really no different. You have to use the abbreviations and symbols of knitting to become familiar. For me, K will always mean Knitting in my mind, others may think Special K Cerreal. It’s through practice and seeing the same words when your mind will click in.
So when you read an instruction like K5. You aren’t saying K – pronounced ‘Kay’. Your mind is saying the full name though you are reading just one letter. So you will be saying in your mind or reading outloud, ‘Knit 5’.
In time, you will start to do the same thing and before you know it, you will be doing it and may never notice it.
Why the Abbreviations?
As I pointed out above, it’s about simplify in reading a design. While the art of Short-Hand has become a thing of the past. Think of other places you use symbols or abbreviations. Look to your mobile device… “LOL”. See what I am saying… we use it nearly every day.
So instead of the designer typing endless pages of notes for a pattern. The simplicity allows instructions to be written much shorter. To the point and on key to the goals of what the pattern is asking for.
For us knitters, we get hung up if the pattern is written too long. Too many words can lead to confusion. In some patterns, the designers offer helpful advice when needed but generally keep the standards on track for ease.
Craft Yarn Council Standards
Knitting abbreviations and terminology has become standard thanks to the Yarn Craft Council of America. It is council where yarn companies and designers come together to create standards where yarn users, like you and I, can count on being the same. If you look at yarn ball labels in the major retailers, you will notice the terminology, symbols and more are similar between all major yarn manufacturers.
Not everyone follows this standard, there are some new designers that are unaware of standards that are in place and may make up their own abbreviations. Usually these type of patterns are self published. Following a standard makes it easier for everyone.
The terms are in North American Standards.
-  – work instructions within brackets as many times as directed.
- () – work instructions within parentheses in the place directed.
- * * – repeat instructions following the asterisks as directed.
- * – repeat instructions following the single asterisk.
- ” – inches
- alt – alternate
- approx – approximately
- beg – begin/beginning
- bet – between
- BO – bind off
- CA – color A
- CB – color B
- CC – contrasting color
- cm – centimeter(s)
- cn – cable needle
- CO – cast on
- cont – continue
- dec – decrease/decreases/decreasing
- dpn – double pointed needle(s)
- fl – front loops
- foll – follow/follows/following
- g – grams
- inc – increase/increases/increasing
- k or K – knit
- k2tog – knit 2 stitches together
- kwise – knitwise
- LH – left hand
- lp(s) – loop(s)
- m – meters
- M1 – make one stitch
- M1 p-st – make one purl stitch
- MC – main color
- mm – millimeter(s)
- oz – ounce(s)
- p or P – purl
- pat(s) or patt – pattern(s)
- pm – place marker
- pop – popcorn
- p2tog – purl 2 stitches together
- prev – previous
- psso – pass slipped stitch over
- pwise – purlwise
- rem – remain/remaining
- rep – repeat(s)
- rev St st – reverse stockinette stitch
- RH – right hand
- rnd(s) – round(s)
- RS – right side
- sk – skip
- skp – slip, knit, pass stitch over – one stitch decreased
- sk2p – slip 1, knit 2 together, pass slip stitch over the knit 2 together; 2 stitches have been decreased
- sl – slip
- sl1k – slip 1 knitwise
- sl1p – slip 1 purlwise
- sl st – slip stitch(es)
- ss – slip stitch (Canadian)
- ssk – slip, slip, knit these 2 stitches together – a decrease
- sssk – slip, slip, slip, knit 3 stitches together
- st(s) – stitch(es)
- St st – stockinette stitch/stocking stitch
- tbl – through back loop
- tog – together
- WS – wrong side
- wyib – with yarn in back
- wyif – with yarn in front
- yd(s) – yard(s)
- yfwd – yarn forward
- yo – yarn over
- yrn – yarn around needle
- yon – yarn over needle
Source: Craft Yarn Council