How to Read Knitting Patterns

There are many knitting patterns available, but they all contain the same basic information. They tell you the knitting gauge, types of knitting stitches to do, and number of rows or rounds.

ultimate list of knitting pattern abbreviations

Ok, I will admit that some vintage knitting patterns lack the basic information, but that's what makes them such a challenge! A good pattern will tell you everything you need to know.

Pattern Abbreviations

Here's a list of the basic pattern abbreviations. If you still don't know what something is, look it up in the knitting terms.

[], (), or *
repeat
beg
beginning
BO
bind off
cab
cable
CC
contrasting color
cn
cable needle
CO
cast on
dec
decrease
dpn
double pointed needles
eor
every other row
eon
end of needle
g st
garter stitch
inc
increase
k or K
knit
kbl or K tbl
knit though back loop
k2tog
knit two together
ln
left needle
lp
loop
M1
make one stitch
MC
main color
p or P
purl
p2tog
purl 2 stitches together
pm
place marker
pnso
pass next stitch over
psso
pass slipped stitch over
rem
remaining
rep
repeat
rev St st
reverse stockinette stitch
rnd(s)
round(s)
RS
right side
sel
selvedge
sk
skip
skn
skein
skp
slip 1, knit 1, and pass slip stitch over so one stitch is decreased
sk2p
slip 1, knit 2 together, and pass a slip stitch over the knit 2 together so 2 stitches are decreased
sl
slip
sl1k
slip 1 knitwise
sl1p
slip 1 purlwise
sp
space
ssk
slip, slip, and knit these 2 stitches together as a decrease
st(s)
stitch(es)
St st
stockinette stitch or stocking stitch
tbl
through back loop
tog
together
won
wool over needle
wrn
wool round needle
WS
wrong side
wyb or wyib
with yarn in back
wyf or wyif
with yarn in front
yb
yarn back
yf
yarn forward
yfwd
yarn forward
yo
yarn over
ytb
yarn to back
ytf
yarn to front

Most knitting pattern books will contain a glossary that lists the definitions and describes the stitches.

Knitting Gauge

The most important information in a pattern comes at the top even before the instructions about rows. Look for the knitting gauge. It's a measurement of how many stitches and rows are within a certain measurement of area.

Knit a sample square swatch using the yarn weight and size knitting needles that the pattern suggests. If your sample is different from the gauge, make adjustments and try again. Get it right with the swatch before you start knitting the main project.

Gauge Problems with Knitting Patterns

Less stitches and rows than the gauge (too big)
Try using a smaller pair of knitting needles. You may also need to use a lighter weight yarn.

More stitches and rows than the gauge (too small)
Try using a larger pair of knitting needles. You might also need to use a thicker yarn.

I cannot overemphasize how important it is to get the stitch size right. The pattern will not turn out to be the right size if the stitches are not the right size. Don't ask me how I know!




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