Understanding Some Common Knitting Terms

Understanding common knitting terms is half the battle of learning how to knit. It all seems very confusing at first, but with a little bit of perseverance you will soon be fluent in the language of knitters everywhere.

I have compiled a list of some of the most common knitting terms you will come across and as when I think of any others I will be sure to add them.

Bind Off (Cast Off)

Casting off, also known as bind off, is the knitting procedure for removing the knitted stitches from the knitting needle

Cable Knitting

A type of knitting that produces a textured pattern of pipe like patterns (called cables) on the fabric. A special cable needle is used for this technique.

Cast On

To add the required number of stitches to the needle to start knitting.

Continental Knitting

A method of knitting where the yarn is held in the left hand. It is sometimes known as “picking” because of the limited movement it requires.

Decrease

Reduce the number of stitches.

Dye Lot

Most yarn is dyed in batches. This means that although yarn may be the same color, if yarn comes from different batches the shade may vary slightly. The dye lot is usually stamped on the paper band of each ball of wool.

English Knitting                                                                          

A method of knitting where the yarn is held in the right hand.

Entrelac

A knitting technique that produces knitted fabric with a basket-woven effect.

Fair Isle Knitting

Fair Isle is a traditional knitting technique used to create patterns with multiple colours. Traditional Fair Isle patterns are limited to five or so colours, using only two colours per row, are worked in the round, and limit the length of a run of any particular colour

Increase

Add a number of stitches.

Intarsia

A technique for adding colors to knitting, often in the form of motifs. Unlike Fair Isle knitting, the yarn is not carried across the back of the work and only and the areas of color are all separate pieces.

Ribbing

A striped, textured pattern often seen on the hems of knitted fabric. The pattern is created by alternating a few purl stitches with a few knit stitches.

Right Side

This is the side of the knitted fabric that will show when the garment is worn. If you are knitting stockinette stitch, it is the side you knit on.

Selvedge (Selvage)

This is the edge of the knitted fabric.

Skein

Most yarn is sold in skeins rather than balls. A skeins is a longer, more oval shape than a ball but it is not of a specific length.

Slip-Stitch

A stitch is passed from the left needle to the right needle without being knitted. Slip stitches can be used for making extra long stitches and carrying over colors.

Steek

Steeking is when you knit the body of a sweater in a tube,and then reinforce and cut open where the armholes go then sleeves are inserted.

Tension / Gauge

This is the recommended number of stitches and rows you get when you knit a particular size square (usually 4” or 10cm square).

Wrong Side

This is the side that faces inwards (ie you do not see it) when the garment is worn.

Yarn Over

A knitting technique where the yarn is passed over the right needle for increasing or decoration.

If you’ve spent time around knitters, you most likely have heard some of these knitting terms being tossed around. As with most things in life, you don’t know what you don’t know.

I’ve tried to break them down with some simple explanations and I think you’ll find many “ah, ha” moments as I hope I have taken the mystery out of  some of the terminology. If you can think of any that should be added I’d love to hear them.

Happy Knitting!

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