9 Knitting Terms you will need to Get Your Stitch On

9 Knitting Terms you will need to Get Your Stitch On 0

Dive into the world of knitting with our comprehensive guide to essential knitting terms. From yarn types to casting-on and off, we've got you covered

Knitting, a time-honored craft, has withstood the test of time, even in the face of fast, inexpensive fashion. The allure of knitting lies in the time, care, and passion it takes to create a piece, be it a cozy baby blanket or a stylish sweater. However, for those who didn't learn to knit at a young age, it can seem like a formidable hobby to take up. Not only does it appear intricate, but there's also a whole new language of knitting terms to master. Purling, casting-on and off, ribbing... where does one start? Fear not! We're here to unravel the mystery of the most common and crucial knitting terms you'll encounter as you learn to knit. Before you know it, you'll be following patterns with ease and crafting those dreamy, cottage-core cardigans by hand.

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9 Essential Knitting Terms

While this list doesn't cover every term you might stumble upon in your knitting journey, it does shed light on the most vital ones. If you're already acquainted with some fabric craft basics, some of these terms might ring a bell.


Yarn, the fiber used for knitting, comes in a plethora of textures and colors. It's sometimes also dubbed as wool, but it doesn't necessarily have to be actual wool (i.e., the hair of a sheep or other animal). The three primary types of yarn are:

Animal fibers (wool, cashmere, silk)
Plant fibers (cotton, linen, bamboo)
Synthetic fibers (acrylic, nylon, rayon)

These fibers are often blended to capitalize on the best qualities of each type. Yarn comes in various weights, from 0 (lace weight) to 7 (jumbo). The lighter and finer the yarn—and thus the lower the number—the more delicate the final knitted piece is likely to be. For beginners, it's recommended to start with a weight between worsted (4) and super bulky (6), as they're the most manageable.

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Fingering Weight

Also known as sock weight, fingering weight yarn is used to make socks, shawls, and other garments that need to be thin. This soft, fine yarn requires thin needles and might not be the best starting point for beginners. However, intermediate knitters should definitely give it a whirl.

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Worsted Weight

Worsted weight yarn is the Goldilocks of yarns: it's chunky but not too chunky, delicate but not too delicate. It's an excellent choice for beginner knitters as it doesn't require a magnifying glass to see your stitches. It's perfect for knitting sweaters that are cozy without being uncomfortably thick.

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A skein is when the yarn fibers are coiled into a loose twist to prevent tangling. Skeins of yarn are usually sold with a paper label that lists everything a knitter needs to know about that yarn, including the yarn type, weight, and care instructions.

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Every knitting project has to start somewhere, and that's where casting-on comes in: creating your first row of stitches. It's from this first row that the rest of the garment will be built and attached. Casting-on is no more challenging than other types of stitch, but it requires a special process.

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If casting-on is the start of your knitting journey, casting-off is the grand finale. It's the process of securing your stitches to prevent your hard work from unraveling. Think of casting-off as the final bow. For simple projects like a scarf, you'll probably only need to cast-off once, at the end. For more complex projects with different sections, you'll likely need to cast-off (and cast-on) multiple times as you complete different pieces of a garment.

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There are two basic types of stitch in knitting: the knit stitch and the purl stitch. A combination of knit and purl stitches is what gives the typically "knitted" look. The purl stitch is just the reverse of a knit stitch, and once you've mastered the knit stitch, getting the hang of the purl stitch is a piece of cake.

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Once you've learned to alternate your knit and purl stitches, you've learned welting. In knitting, welting is one (or more) row of knit stitches alternated with one (or more) row of purl stitches. The simplest and most common form of welting is the garter stitch, which is one row of knit followed by one row of purl. Stretchy ribbing in knitted garments is formed through welting.


Yarn Warp

Yarn warp, or warp knitting, is a type of knitting where the yarn zig-zags along the length of the fabric rather than following simple, neat rows. It's more common in machine knitting and weaving than in hand knitting. Unless you become an advanced knitter or textile artist, you probably won't need to worry too much about this method.

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Ready to Learn to Knit?

There's a wealth of resources available for those who want to learn to knit or take their beginner skills up a notch. Whether you want to make something super simple, like a scarf or blanket, or something more advanced, like a Fair Isle sweater, knitting is a fun and relaxing creative outlet.

Visual video tutorials are often easier to follow than written instructions. This way, you can mimic the hand and finger positions and movement of the yarn until you become confident that you're doing it right—which you'll be doing in no time!

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