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Barbara Breiter's Knitting On The Net

Author of The Complete Idiot's Guide To
Knitting & Crocheting Illustrated (3rd ed.)

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Learn To Knit

Glossary Of Knitting Terms

Knitting patterns commonly use these knitting terms. Also see Knitting Abbreviations for more help.

  • Bind Off In Pattern
    This is a small detail but adds a professional touch. You will generally see this instruction when you have been knitting using a stitch pattern instead of stockinette. Work the next row of the stitch pattern, knitting and purling just as if you were working that row, as you bind off.

  • Decrease Or Increase Evenly
    Sometimes a pattern will tell you specifically where to decrease or increase across a row; other times it will only tell you the specific number of stitches to decrease or increase and to do so evenly.

    You don't want the decreases or increases together at one end but spread out as evenly as possible across the entire row. Otherwise, it will cause your knitting to pucker and flare. For help on how to determine how to spread out your decreases or increases evenly, please see Increasing Evenly. You will find the principle is the same to decrease evenly.

  • Keeping To Pattern
    If you knitting a stitch pattern, you'll just follow the instruction for each row as long as you keep working over the same number of stitches. But as you shape a project, such as a sleeve or a neckline, you will find that you need to increase or decrease the number of stitches you are knitting. This changes where you will begin and end each row. Please see Keeping To Pattern for help.

  • Multiple Of Stitches
    A stitch multiple is the number of stitches you need to have for one complete repeat of a stitch pattern. A multiple of 5 stitches means you should cast on any number of stitches that is divisible by 5. A multiple of 6 + 1 means you should cast on any number of stitches that is divisible by 6 plus 1 extra stitch.

  • Reverse Shaping
    Almost all cardigan patterns will give you exact instructions for knitting one front; the other front instruction will tell you to knit it the same way, but reverse shaping.

    The neck and armhole edges are at their logical respective places. With the right side facing the public, hold the left or right front up against you. This is the easiest way to tell which is the armhole edge and which is the neck edge if you get confused.

    To reverse shaping, work the shaping at the opposite end from where you worked it for the first side. Usually you will begin to shape an armhole by binding off stitches. If you bound off the stitches at the beginning of a right side row for one front, you would bind off stitches at the beginning of a wrong side row for the other front. This keep the shaping on the correct edge.

    If you are increasing or decreasing at the beginning of a row for one front, you would increase or decrease at the end of the row for the other front.

  • Selvedge
    You will also see this word spelled selvage. All knitting has a selvedge on each side. It only means the first and last stitches. If it's something that will be seamed, these are the stitches that will be used to seam the piece together; they will no longer be visible when it is sewn.

    With knitting projects such as scarves and afghans where there are no seams, you will have a selvedge. You will sometimes see a pattern that tells you to work the first and last stitch in a specific way, such as slipping the first stitch and knitting the last stitch. This creates a neat selvedge on each side that enhances the look of the project.

  • With Right Side Facing
    You will often see this term when you are about to pick up stitches along an edge but you may see it at other times as well. The right side, or the side that will be facing the public when it's completed, should be facing you as you work.

  • Work Even
    This term often follows a sequence where you just completed shaping and have increased or decreased. You will have a different number of stitches than when you began that sequence. You are now working over the number of stitches you currently have.


Need more knitting instructions?
Knitting Help: Learn to Knit



The Complete Idiot's Guide To Knitting
& Crocheting (3rd edition)

by Barbara Breiter & Gail Diven



learn to knit
Available in book stores everywhere.

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The Complete Idiot's Guide To Knitting and Crocheting, has been a world wide best seller. The third edition was published September, 2006 and is available in bookstores everywhere. Information on the book and a preview of the patterns included is available at Knit A Bit.