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Common Knitting Abbreviations

By: Audrey Huggett, Editor for AllFreeKnitting

Reading knitting patterns is something that many knitters take for granted—once you know how to do it, reading a pattern is almost second nature.  For beginners, however, knitting patterns can present a little bit of a challenge.  The biggest obstacle novice knitters encounter are the frequently used knitting abbreviations.  At first glance, many of the symbols used in knitting patterns can look like gibberish to the untrained eye.  Committing a couple of common knitting abbreviations to heart is the first step towards becoming a pattern expert.


Knitting designers use abbreviations for a very good reason—pattern length.  If every word in your pattern was written out in full, many patterns would be unmanageably long!  Since most knitters adhere to a standard list of abbreviations, designers are able to convey a lot of information about their pattern without writing out every single word.  Once you’re familiar with knitting abbreviations, reading a knitting pattern is a breeze.


It helps that most of the abbreviations are logical in origin. “K,” for example, is the symbol for “knit” and “p” stands for “purl.”  Since designers want their patterns to be easily accessible to as many people as possible, it is very much within a designer’s interest to make his or her pattern straightforward and easy to read.


For more explanations of common knitting terms, be sure to check out our article of knitting terms explained!

Common Knitting Abbreviations


Glossary of Common Knitting Abbreviations

approx = approximately
beg = begin(s)(ning)
bet = between
BO = bind off
btwn = between
CC = contrasting color
cn = cable needle
CO = cast on
cont = continu(e)(s)(ing)
dec = decreas(e)(s)(ing)
dpn(s) = double pointed needle(s)
est = establish(ed)
foll = follow(s)(ing)
inc = increas(e)(s)(ing)
k = knit
k1b = knit 1 in the row below
k1b = knit through the back loop
k2tog = knit 2 together
k2togb = Knit 2 stitches together through back loop
k3tog = knit 3 together
k3togb = Knit 3 stitches together through back loop
Kfb = knit in front and back of st
M1 = make 1
M2 = make two
MC = main color
meas = measure(s)
ndl(s) = needle(s)
opp = opposite
p = purl
p1b = purl through the back loop
p2sso = pass 2 slipped sts over
p2tog = purl 2 together
p2togb = purl 2 together in back
p3tog = purl 3 together
pat = pattern
Pm = place marker
psso = pass slipped stitch over
PU = pick up
rem = remain(s)(ing)
rep = repeat(s)(ing)
rev = revers(e)(ing)
Rev St st = reverse stockinette stitch
rf = right front
RH = right hand
rnd(s) = round(s)
RS = right side
S2KP or S2KP2 = slip 2 stitches together, knit 1, pass two slip stitches over
sk = skip
sk2p = Slip 1, k2tog, pass sl st over
skp = slip 1, knit 1, pass slipped stitch over
sl = slip
sl st = slip stitch
slip1-k1-psso = slip 1, knit 1, pass slip stitch over
sm = slip marker
ssk = slip, slip, knit
St st = Stockinette stitch
st(s) = stitch(es)
tbl = through the back loop
tog = together
WS = wrong side
wyib = with yarn in back
wyif = with yarn in front
yo = yarn over

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These two abbreviations are the same. Which is correct? k1b = knit 1 in the row below k1b = knit through the back loop

what does ssk mean when knitting & how do I do it

ssk = slip, slip, knit. You slip two stitches from the left needle onto the right needle then insert your left needle in front of the two slipped stitches and knit them together. It is like k2tog but makes the stitch slant in the opposite direction which gives a more symmetrical finish.

What does *k1tb1, p4 mean? I have never seen this before.


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