Knitting Abbreviations And Terms (US and UK)

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Here you will find an extensive list of knitting abbreviations and terms including both US and UK terminology.

When you first read a knitting pattern you may think that it has been written in another language.

And it sort of has been – but it is a simple enough language to understand.

Patterns use abbreviations that are shortened ways of telling you what techniques to do.

knitting abbreviations and terms

Knitting Abbreviations Explained

For example, knit is abbreviated to K, and purl is abbreviated to P.

The letters are often next to a number that will tell you how many stitches you should knit.

For example, K6 means ‘knit 6 stitches’.

This shorthand makes the patterns shorter and simpler for you to follow.

If the instructions were all written in full, then the patterns would be pages and pages long!

Knitting abbreviations and terms free download

What Is The Difference Between US and UK Knitting Terms?

Once you start to learn how to read knitting patterns and practice knitting techniques you will become more and more used to the shortened abbreviations.

If you see an abbreviation that you don’t understand, you can check the reference guide below (see the downloadable PDF at the bottom of this page).

Knitters in the UK and the US use slightly different terms such as ‘stocking stitch’ in the UK and ‘stockinette stitch’ in the US.

But the biggest difference is that the US and the UK use different systems for yarn weights and needle sizes.

Apart from that, the differences are small so you can use patterns from anywhere!

Knitting for beginners

Get Started – Knitting Abbreviations + Terms List

If you want to learn more about how to start knitting, please visit this post –  Knitting Lessons

The list below is a starter guide to general abbreviations and terms.

  • There are links to video tutorials for some of the techniques below.
  • Download the free PDF at the bottom of this page.
  • Take a look at the general terms below to get started.

General

[ ] work instructions within brackets as many times as directed

( ) work instructions within parentheses as many times as directed

* repeat the instructions following the single asterisk as directed

** repeat instructions between asterisks as many times as directed or repeat from a given set of instructions

” inch(es)

A

alt – alternate

approx – approximately

B

beg – begin, beginning

bet – between

bk2tog – brioche knit 2 together; knit next knit stitch together with its paired yarnover

bk3tog – right-slanting brioche decrease

bp2tog – brioche purl 2 together; purl next purl stitch together with its paired yarnover

bsk2p – left-slanting brioche decrease

C

cable – a decorative stitch that looks like a twisted rope or braid

CC – contrast color

cco – cable cast on

cdd – centered double decrease

cm – centimeter(s)

cn – cable needle

CO – cast on

cont – continue

D

dec – decrease, decreases, decreasing

dpn – double pointed needles

F

fl – front loop(s)

foll – follow, follows, following

G

g – gram(s)

I

inc – increase, increases, increasing

K

k or K – knit (Video Tutorial)

k1b – knit 1 below

k1fb – knit one front and back; a single-stitch increase (Video Tutorial)

kfb – knit front and back (knit one front and back; a single-stitch increase)

k2tog – knit the next 2 stitches together; a right-slanting, single-stitch decrease (Video Tutorial)

kitchener stitch – method of grafting lives stitches together

ktbl – knitting through the back loop

kwise – knitwise

L

lc – the left cross

LH – left hand

lp(s) – loop(s)

LT – Left twist – The left twist stitch is a mock cable.

M

m – meter(s)

mb – make bobble

M1 – make 1 stitch

m1a – make one away increase

m1L – make 1 left; left-slanting, single-stitch increase

m1R – make 1 right; right-slanting, single-stitch increase

M1 p-st – make 1 purl stitch

MC – main color

mm – millimeter(s)

O

oz – ounce(s)

P

p or P – purl (Video Tutorial)

p tbl – purl through the back loop

p1b – purl 1 below

p2tog – purl the next 2 stitches together; a single-stitch decrease

p2tog tbl – purl 2 stitches together through the back loops; also known a ssp; a one-stitch decrease

pat(s) or patt – pattern(s)

pm – place marker

pop – popcorn

prev – previous

psso – pass slipped stitch over

pu or puk – pick up and knit stitches

pwise – purlwise

R

rem – remain, remaining

rc – the right cross

rep(s) – repeat(s)

rev St st – reverse stockinette stitch

RH – right hand

Rib – Knit1, Purl 1(Video Tutorial)

rnd(s) – round(s)

RS – right side

RT – Right twist – The right twist stitch is a mock cable.

S

s2kp – slip 2 together knitwise, k1, pass slipped stitches over (psso); a centered two-stitch decrease

sk – skip

sk2p – slip 1, knit 2 together, pass slip stitch over (psso), then knit 2 together; a two-stitch decrease

skp – slip, knit, pass stitch over; a single-stitch decrease

sl – slip

sl st – slip stitch(es)

sl1k – slip 1 knitwise

sl1p – slip 1 purlwise

sl1, k1, ppso – slip one, knit one, pass slipped stitch over; a single-stitch decrease

ssk – slip, slip, knit these 2 stitches together; a left-slanting, single-stitch decrease

ssp – slip, slip, purl; one-stitch decrease; also known as p2tog tbl

sssk – slip, slip, slip, knit these 3 stitches together; a left-slanting, two-stitch decrease

st(s) – stitch(es)

St st – stockinette stitch, stocking stitch (Video Tutorial)

T

tbl – through back loop

tog – together

W

WS – wrong side

wyib – with yarn in back

wyif – with yarn in front

Y

yd(s) – yard(s)

yf or yfwd – yarn forward

yo – yarn over

yrn – yarn around needle

yon – yarn over needle

Download your Knitting Abbreviations and Terms (US + UK) PDF here – Knitting Abbreviations and Terms

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23 Comments

    1. Hi Pam! That’s great to know, I too need reminding as there are so many, I always need a list! Thanks for reading 🙂

  1. Hi there – I am knitting the easy knit cardigan. There are two abbreviations I do not understand. The first one is bind off and the second one which is in the shape the shoulders instructions S – 1-8 etc etc. If you would explain them to me it would be great. I live in Australia so some terms may be different. Thank you. I am enjoying knitting this. Cheers Pauline.

    1. Hello Pauline, no worries, let me see if I can help you, bind off is the same as cast off. So you need to cast off your knitting when you see that. Rows: S – 1- 8 / M – 1-10 / L – 1-12 / XL – 1-14 / XXL 1-16 – S stands for small – so these are the sizes and the number of rows you need to work for those sizes. So for the small size, you work 1-8 rows – and follow the instructions – so for the first row you cast off 1 st, at the beg of each row, then in row 3 – you work in the pattern until you have 49 sts in row 8. I hope that helps and if you need further help, please send me an email or use the contact page, I will be happy to help! Thanks for checking out my patterns, Louise 🙂

    2. Hi I’m knitting Olaf the snowman from a pattern with American abbreviations. I know some but have come across tams. Don’t know what this is and can’t find an answer anywhere. Could you help me please.

      1. Hello Kath,
        I can’t find a meaning for that – perhaps you can email the pattern designer to ask?
        Thanks,
        Louise

  2. I have a lot of British knitting patterns. Almost all have the same list of How-to’s that American patterns do. Yes, sometimes more explanation is necessary and this instruction/comparison will help with that.
    I found that the yarn description was the hardest to get my mind around.
    I was caring for an elderly parent (I’m not young and was in my 60’s at that time) in England. I asked a friend to buy some “wool” (yarn in the U.S.A.). Wool seemed to be a general term for yarn., not referring to the makeup of the skein. I asked for a 4ply that could be machine washed and dried.
    What I got, (the pkg said 4 ply), was more the feel of a thicker than usual sport yarn. It was too thick if I used two strands, but not quite thick enough as it was. I found that the yarn content made the difference in thickness.
    It was quite confusing to say the least. I’m a very tactile person, and need to touch and feel before I buy. This isn’t always possible. I can, after many years of knitting (60+) purchase yarn online, always keeping my fingers crossed if it’s a brand I’ve not previously used. So, explaining the differences between the yarn from different countries is extremely helpful.
    Thank you

    1. Hello Mary, thank you so much for your comment, I will definitely write a blog post soon that explains the difference in yarns from the UK/US/AUS. I have it on my to-do list 🙂
      I too struggle with ordering online sometimes, as without seeing/feeling the yarns it can be hard to judge if it is exactly what you want for a project.
      Happy knitting!
      Louise

  3. Hi Louise, I have been trying to find the pattern for the cream baby hat with a knot ,but not having much success,Do you think you could please send to my email address..Stay safe in the bad times🙏

  4. I am working on an Irish Knit Cap pattern. It calls for Front Twist(FT) & Back Twist(BT) I cannot find an example of these on the internet.. How do this twists compare to Right Twist & Left Twist in the U.S.? There are several tutorials for these on the internet.
    Thank you for your help.

    1. Hello Barbara,
      I have done cable twisted stitches before and perhaps the twists in your pattern are the same as the US terms but use different abbreviations?
      One of my tea cosy patterns uses twists and the abbreviations are as follows:
      Tw2F – Knit into the second st on the left-hand needle then knit into the front of the first st, slipping both stitches off the needle together.
      Tw2B – Knit into the back of the second stitch on the left-hand needle, then knit into the front of the first stitch, slipping both stitches off the needle together.
      Maybe you could try those?
      I hope that helps!
      Louise

  5. Hi, I’m knitting an easter bunny hat and the first Dec row is saying – *k8, k2tog rep from * to last st (8;5 ) and k1 (8;5). When I get past the *k8,, k2tog part I have 5 stitches left and I don’t know what the bracketed (8;5) means . Can you help please ?

    1. Hello Marion,
      The (8:5) pertains to the size – so if you are making the smallest size you will K8, K2tog* rep from * to last st. If you have 5 sts left, you will knit 5 sts to the end.
      The 8 refers to the medium size and 5 to the largest size.
      In the size notes it says – This pattern is to fit baby size 0-3 months / 3-6 months / 6-9 months.
      The first set of numbers applies to the small size, the second set to the medium size, and the third to the large size.
      I hope that helps!
      Louise

  6. I’m ready to begin a new project, but there’s one abbreviation not in the key and I don’t understand it. On a WS row: P2, *k2, 3a; rep from* to last 4 sts, p2, k2.

    What is 3a? I’ve researched and can’t find anything fir it. The prior RS row has a p2, k3 in the same position.

    1. Hello Babette,
      I haven’t seen the abbreviation 3a before – maybe this is a typo in the pattern?
      Could you message the designer to ask them about it?
      They may have meant to say P3 instead if you think that seems right.
      I hope that helps!
      Louise

  7. I am knitting an Aran Sweater with a Single Honeycomb Stitch consisting of 8 rows. Row 4 says P318. What does that mean? My pattern explains all the other abbreviations but that one and I am unclear what to do.
    Thank you.

    1. Hello Donna,
      Maybe it means to purl 318 stitches?
      Maybe email the pattern designer and ask them?
      They will be able to clear that up for you!
      Thanks,
      Louise

  8. Hi. I am knitting a Hintern Stein pattern which refers to PL or pPL. I gather this stands for Princess Line created by 1 purl stitch in every RS row. What I am not sure of is that the pattern refers to either pPl or p1 (PL) . Do these mean the same – i.e. P1 or do these abbreviations mean p1 or p2 in order to create the princess line. Your help would be greatly appreciated.
    With thanks.

    1. Hello Sandra,
      From what I know PL means to purl long.
      This is done as follows:
      1. Purl the next stitch, wrapping the yarn around the needle twice.
      2. On the next row or round, work one loop and drop the extra loop, creating a long stitch.
      Perhaps the P1(PL) is saying to purl long.
      I hope that helps!
      Louise

  9. Hello
    Just a quick question about asterisks. I have a pattern here that reads like this:
    K2 *(yo, ssk) 3 times, YO, Slip1, K2tog, PSSO. (yo, ssk) 3 times, yo **, K3 ending with the last sts a K2.
    Ok I understand everything here except the **, K3 would I include the K3? after every set? I do have 127 sts to get through, just a little confused. Thank you for the help so very much. 🙂

    1. Hello Conni,
      So after the repeat ** it looks like you would knit 3 sts and then Knit 2 sts.
      Or perhaps you yarn over ** and knit 3 every time and then K2 as the last stitches.
      Before you start that row I would count through it with the stitches you have on your needle to see if you need to include that K3 after every repeat or not.
      I hope that helps!
      Louise