Knitting Abbreviations and Meanings

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

AbbreviationMeaning AbbreviationMeaning
altalternate pssopass slipped stitch over
begbegin (or beginning) pwisepurlwise
betbetween remremain (or remaining)
BObind off reprepeat(s)
CAcolor A rev St streverse stockinette stitch
CBcolor B RHright hand
CCcontrasting color rnd(s)


cmcentimeters RSright side
cncable needle skpslip, knit, pass slipped stitch over
COcast on sk2pslip one stitch, knit two together, pass slipped stitch over
contcontinue slslip
decdecrease/decreases/decreasing sl1kslip one knitwise
dpndouble-pointed needle(s) sl1pslip one purlwise
flfront loop(s) sl stslip stitch(es)
follfollows (or following) ssslip stitch (in Canadian patterns)
ggram sskslip, slip, knit those two stitches together
incincrease ssskslip, slip, slip, knit three slipped stitches together
Kknit st(s)stitch(es)
k2togknit two together St ststockinette stitch
kwiseknitwise tblthrough back loop
LHleft hand togtogether
lp(s)loop(s) WSwrong side
mmeters wyibwith yarn in back
M1make one stitch wyifwith yarn in front
M1 p-stmake one purl stitch ydsyards
MCmain color yfwdyarn forward (yarn over)
mmmillimeters yoyarn over
ozounce yrnyarn around needle (yarn over)
P (or p)purl yonyarn over needle (yarn over)
pat(s) or pattpattern(s) yoyarn over
pmplace marker [ ]work instructions in brackets as many times as directed
poppopcorn bobble ( )work instructions in parenthesis as directed (also used to indicate size changes)
p2togpurl two together **repeat instructions after asterisks as directed
prevprevious *repeat pattern following asterisk as directed