Knitting Abbreviations and Meanings

knitting abbreviations

Toma Evsiukova / Stocksy United

There are many common knitting abbreviations used in knitting patterns, sometimes without explanation. It can seem like knitters are talking a completely different language.

This is really frustrating for newer knitters because it's often assumed you know what something like "*k1, p1. Rep from * across" or "cont in St st, dec 2 sts at beg and end of alt-RS rows." Those sorts of things make perfect sense to someone who has been a knitter for a long time, but they can leave a new knitter completely lost and frustrated.

Why Use Abbreviations?

Abbreviations are often used to make patterns shorter and easier to read. The difference between "cont in St st, dec 2 sts at beg and end of alt RS rows" and "Continue in stockinette stitch, decreasing 2 stitches at the beginning and end of alternate right side rows" might not look like much when it's one line of knitting, but write a whole pattern (or a whole book of patterns) that way takes up a lot more space.

You will note that some abbreviations are for single words or what to do with a single stitch, while others describe a series of tasks performed in sequence.

While abbreviations can be confusing to newer knitters, the lack of abbreviations can be frustrating to knitters who are experienced at deciphering this simpler style. Once you understand the common abbreviations and what they mean, you’ll be able to read knitting patterns with ease.

Common Knitting Abbreviations

These are some of the most common abbreviations you are likely to find in knitting patterns. There are others, but in most cases where others are used, there will be a key or an explanation somewhere in the pattern as to exactly what the designer wants you to do. 

Knitting Abbreviations
Abbreviation Meaning Abbreviation Meaning
alt alternate psso pass slipped stitch over
beg begin (or beginning) pwise purlwise
bet between rem remain (or remaining)
BO bind off rep repeat(s)
CA color A rev St st reverse stockinette stitch
CB color B RH right hand
CC contrasting color rnd(s)


cm centimeters RS right side
cn cable needle skp slip, knit, pass slipped stitch over
CO cast on sk2p slip one stitch, knit two together, pass slipped stitch over
cont continue sl slip
dec decrease/decreases/decreasing sl1k slip one knitwise
dpn double-pointed needle(s) sl1p slip one purlwise
fl front loop(s) sl st slip stitch(es)
foll follows (or following) ss slip stitch (in Canadian patterns)
g gram ssk slip, slip, knit those two stitches together
inc increase sssk slip, slip, slip, knit three slipped stitches together
K knit st(s) stitch(es)
k2tog knit two together St st stockinette stitch
kwise knitwise tbl through back loop
LH left hand tog together
lp(s) loop(s) WS wrong side
m meters wyib with yarn in back
M1 make one stitch wyif with yarn in front
M1 p-st make one purl stitch yds yards
MC main color yfwd yarn forward (yarn over)
mm millimeters yo yarn over
oz ounce yrn yarn around needle (yarn over)
P (or p) purl yon yarn over needle (yarn over)
pat(s) or patt pattern(s) yo yarn over
pm place marker [ ] work instructions in brackets as many times as directed
pop popcorn bobble ( ) work instructions in parenthesis as directed (also used to indicate size changes)
p2tog purl two together ** repeat instructions after asterisks as directed
prev previous * repeat pattern following asterisk as directed