How to Understand Confusing Knitting Terms

by Kyla Quinlan

Let’s face it, knitting terms can be confusing. Whether you’re just beginning to learn to knit or you have quite a bit of experience, every once in a while, you run into some terms that you can’t quite figure out. If this happens to you, here’s some help.

Basic Knitting Terms Explained

When you’re just beginning to knit, it can be overwhelming. You need to start with a good basic knowledge of terms and keep them handy so you don’t have to stop in the middle of your knitting to go find them. Here are some basics you need to know.

Cast on — This mean putting the stitches on the needle.

Joining — Joining one yarn to another or one piece of knitting to another.

Knit — One of the two main knitting stitches

Purl — The other main knitting stitch

Gauge — The ratio of stitches per row and per inch when you knit. This is very important so don’t be tempted to skip it when first beginning to knit.

Cast off — Also called ‘binding off’. It means to finish a knitted item and get it off the needles.

The more you knit, the more familiar all of these terms and abbreviations will become to you. They might be confusing now, but before you know it, you’ll have them memorized.

Unusual Knitting Glossary of Terms

Once you have a few knitting projects under your belt, you’ll want to try new techniques and more difficult patterns. Of course, along with the new techniques and patterns you’ll come across many more new terms. But don’t worry. You’ll soon master and memorize even the more difficult terms.

Then… you are thrown a curveball. Just when you think you know what you’re doing, you’ll be knitting along and you’ll see a pattern with a term that is not only new to you but so unusual you can’t figure out what it is.

Here are a few of the more obscure and difficult to find terms and abbreviations.

K1 tbl — Knit the stitch through the back loop instead of the front

k-b — Knit the stitch from the row below

kll — Knit left loop. This means to increase to the left.

krl — Knit right loop.

pnso — Pass next stitch over.

yfon — yarn forward over needle (also seen as yo or yarn over)

wyib — with yarn in back

M1 — make one

These are just a few terms of course. There are many more on complicated and unusual knitting terms you don’t come across every day in the knitting world. There are so many, in fact, there are entire books written in attempt to cover them.

For a much more extensive list of knitting terms and helpful articles teaching knitting tips and techniques, visit

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    1. I suggest using searches to find examples of how to do these stitches, however:
      ssk is probably slip slip knit. Slip one stitch from the left to the right needle, slip another stitch from the left to the right needle, put left needle through both stitches on the right needle and knit. You’re reducing by one stitch using ssk.
      PM is probably Place Marker.
      M1 is Make One stitch, where you either pick up a loop between the last stitch you knitted and the next stitch, then knit into it (there are specific techniques for this so you can’t see an increase hole in your knitting. Another way to M1 is to knit front and back through the same stitch loop (can leave a bit of a hole).

      Again, internet search is probably your friend.

    1. ssk twice means to ssk two stitches into one (as described previously), and then to repeat ssk. In all, you’ve turned four stitches into 2, it’s reducing the stitches you have on the needle.

      M1 and PM I’ve already answered.

      Best of luck.

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