How To Read Knitting Patterns

Learning to knit can be an overwhelming process, but once you've mastered the basics, you can then begin to expand your knitting repertoire by learning different knitting techniques. This can be a very confusing and frustrating endeavor, as you are learning the foreign language of knitting, but if you are able to learn the abbreviations and terms, you’ll be able to easily read a knitting pattern which will help to make your learning curve not as daunting.

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Knowing Knitting Basics To Get Started

There are some basic techniques you need to understand how to perform in order to start your first pattern. Typically, it is good to know how to cast on, bind off, knit stitch, and purl stitch. These techniques on top of the language will allow you to work through your knitting patterns.

After the techniques have been learned, the next step is to recognize the language and the abbreviations for techniques as you begin to look at patterns. The abbreviations will allow you to understand the motions you need to go through in order to create your patterns.

The Terms For Reading Knitting Patterns

Here are some abbreviations, the terms, and the meanings behind each term used in knitting patterns:

  • CO (Cast On): This is how each knitted piece begins.
  • BO (Bind Off): Most knitted pieces are completed by binding off. Occasionally, it is referred to as casting off, but they mean the same thing.
  • Inc (Increase): Add more stitches. Designers will have specific methods in mind and will explain what pattern is used.
  • Dec (Decrease): Eliminate some stitches. Like increasing, decreasing will be done with a method specified by the designer.
  • Rep (Repeat): Repeat the action the number of times stated in the pattern.
  • Sl (Slip): Slip a stitch or stitches from one needle to the other.
  • YO (yarn over): Take the yarn over the needle
  • Tog (together): Work 2 or more stitches together. This also forms a decrease.
  • Work Even: Continue the methods used without increases or decreases.
  • Maintain: Keep the center part in the pattern as it was set up and add or subtract stitches at each end without disturbing that pattern. Once enough stitches have been added, you can incorporate them into the pattern.

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