Knitting Lingo

Every “organizational culture” from computer analysts to medical specialists speak or write to each other in a language unique to their group. Even knitters! Each special language is filled with jargon or lingo. I thought I would make a list of definitions for words and abbreviations you may recognize but are unsure of their meaning.

Aran – The term aran as in aran weight, is a medium weight yarn slightly thicker than worsted. There are a couple of other definitions you may come across. An “aran sweater” is a traditional cable knit design originating in the Aran Islands of Ireland. Aran may also refer to a color, a creamy white.

Blends – A yarn which consists of two or more types of fibers. Producing a blend is done to achieve color mixtures, such as heather, unusual dyeing variations, better performance characteristics, or to decrease the cost of the yarn.

Blocking – This is the process of wetting or steaming knit pieces to even stitches and fibers, and flatten the edges. Blocking makes seaming garments much easier. Blocking is to knitting, what pressing is to sewing.

Colorway – The name or number assigned by a manufacturer to a color or multi-colored yarn.

Double Knitting (DK) – DK belongs to the category of light weight yarns, and is very popular. “Double Knitting” can also mean a technique used to make a two layer knit fabric that is only connected at the edges.

DPN’s – Double pointed needles are used for circular knitting, usually small items, such as socks or hats. I-cord is also made using dpn’s. They have points on both ends, and the standard length is 8in(20cm).

Drape – This term describes how a finished garment hangs. The amount of elasticity in a yarn affects drape.

Drop Stitch – Usually refers to a mistake; a stitch has “dropped” off the needle. It is simply a loop that comes loose and may unravel many rows, forming a run. There is also a dropped pattern stitch that forms an openwork series of loops.

Fair Isle (Stranded Knitting) – Two or more colors are worked in the same row to form a thick fabric with floats on the back. The floats are caught in the knit fabric at regular intervals (stranding). Traditional Fair Isle, developed in the Shetland Isles, uses only two colors per row.

Felting or Fulling – The application of heat, moisture, and pressure produces a matted fabric. It is simply shrinkage of a fabric that is predominantly wool. Other hair fibers can be felted, but wool is most common.

Finishing – All the steps required to complete and assemble a garment or project.

Flat Knitting – This refers to items knit in pieces on straight needles, and then seamed together.

Floats – In color knitting, the portion of yarn that extends for some length (floats) on the wrong side of the fabric, without being knit in.

FO – A finished object.

Frogging – Unravelling pieces or completed projects for many reasons including:  you don’t like it, a mistake annoying you too much, or you will never wear it.

Frog Pond – A project set aside to be unravelled, and the yarn recycled for a different project.

Halo – Yarn with a fuzzy texture, like mohair forms a halo effect along the core of the strand. It creates a softening of the pattern stitch detail.

Hand – The qualities of a fabric that can be discerned through touching.

Intarsia – Intarsia is a technique of twisting yarns around each other at color changes to prevent holes. It is used when knitting large areas of color, pictorial or graphic designs.

In the round – This is circular knitting, where the work is joined forming tubular pieces with no seams.

KIP – Knitting in public.

Leg of the Stitch – A stitch is a loop with two legs that hang off your needle.

Loft – The springiness or fluffiness of a fiber or yarn.

LYS – Local Yarn Shop.

SEX – Stash enrichment expedition.

Staple Fiber – These are short lengths of fiber that make up spun yarns.

Straights – Standard knitting needles with points on one end, and a knob at the other end to prevent the stitches from falling off.

Superwash – An applied finish to wool that softens and alters its scale structure, making it machine washable without shrinking or felting.

Tapestry/Darning/Yarn/Knitters Needle – Blunt end needle with a large eye to hold the yarn strand; used to seam and weave in yarn ends.

TINK (knit spelt backwards) – To undo a knit stitch by reversing the knitting motion (unknitting); often used to fix a mistake.

Twin Pins – Another name for circular needles.

UFO – An unfinished object.

WIP – A work in progress.

Wool – Wool is the hair fiber from sheep. It is by far the most popular, and so much so that knitters tend to use “wool” to describe all yarn.

Work – This is often used as the verb “to knit”. A pattern might read “work in pattern stitch for….”. It can also describe the piece you are knitting “my work on the needles…”.

Worsted – Worsted is a smooth, medium weight yarn, and 100% worsted wool is a classic yarn. DK and worsted are the two most common yarns to knit projects.

WPI – Wraps per inch, or the number of times the yarn will wrap loosely around a ruler or similar tool in one inch. The more wraps per inch, indicate a finer yarn.

I hope this small list will assist you in understanding jargon you may come across in your knitting journey.

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