Knitting Lingo Everyone Should Know - Part 1

Posted by Robyn Berkel on

I’m not going to list out all the abbreviations and their meanings, because those charts are a dime a dozen. Also everyone uses them a little differently. If you want a good chart for written patterns like that, here’s an great source! http://www.yarnspirations.com/knitting-abbreviations-stitch-glossary

Instead, let’s talk about the jargon :) If you’ve seen some of these terms or phrases defined a little differently, I’d love to see some alternate definitions in the comments! Part 1 is all about yarn and materials, so everything is pretty straightforward. You can look forward to Part 2 and 3 where I'll talk about knitting techniques and popular styles!

Yarn Weights

0 (Lace, 1 - 2 ply, Thread)

1 (Super Fine, 2 ply, Sock, Light Fingering, 3 - 4 ply)

2 (Sport, Fingering, 4 - 5 ply, Light DK)

3 (Sport, DK, 6 - 8 ply, Light Worsted)

4 (Worsted Weight, Medium, 9 - 10 ply)

5 (Bulky, Aran*, 11 - 12 ply)

6 (Super Bulky, 13+ ply)

*Aran is heavier than worsted weight but often lighter than bulky weight. It is often put in the bulky or 5 category

Some of the materials below are pretty self-explanatory, but I think it’s important to know the terms knitters are familiar with and often throw around!

Materials

Cable needle / Cable stitch holder - a third needle for holding stitches while you twist your cables.

*You can manage to knit cables without this, but it’s very helpful and necessary for large cables.

Double Pointed Needle or DPN - a needle pointed at both ends.

*Used for DPN knitting where you knit in the round with a very small diameter

*You’ll use 4-5 DPNs at once, which is why they are sold in packs!

Circular Needle - two needles attached by a cord.

*Used for a style of knitting called circular knitting, or knitting in the round

*Most knitters’ go-to tool :)

Skein - yarn packaged up so that is ready to knit

*A lot of commercial yarns are packaged this way, so that you don’t have to ball them up yourself

*I actually didn’t know what this was until just now...I’ve always used “skein” and “hank” interchangeably…whoops :)

Hank - yarn loosely tied together, then twisted and folded in half

*How you’ll recieve yarn from hand dyers and how most from yarn shops are packaged

*Requires you to ball your yarn before using

Cake - ball of yarn that doesn’t roll

Yarn Bowl - a bowl designed with a spiral cut out in the side for holding your ball of yarn while you knit

*Helpful so your ball doesn’t roll around and collect dog hair!

Sock Blank - a machine knit rectangle of fabric that is then painted, so that the result is a rectangle of yarn that you can knit from.

*Many people like to buy and paint sock blanks because the end sock result is very pretty and unique

*The one pictured below is literally blank, but "sock blanks" are typically dyed/painted with lots of colors

PomPom & PomPom Makers - faux fur pom poms are very popular right now and you can buy them on Etsy! You can make your own pom poms out of yarn with a pom pom maker.

*You need to buy different size pom pom makers for different size pom poms

*You can make a pom pom with cardboard or other household objects, just YouTube it!

*The bulkier yarn you use and the more times you wind it, the fuller the pom pom will look

Interchangable Needles - a set of removable needles and cables so that you can get all of the possible cable lengths and needle sizes with one set.

*Please don’t go cheap on these! Cheap sets break easily and don’t always have a smooth connection from the needle to the cable, resulting in stressful knitting.

Needle Huggers / Point Protectors - Rounded ends for the pointy part of your needle, used for storing projects so the stitches don’t slip off in your bag

Yarn needles / Tapestry Needles - Large sewing needles for weaving in ends or sewing together knit pieces

Blocking Mats - Used for laying wet projects flat to dry (a process called blocking)

Blocking Wires - long thin wires for shaping wet projects as they dry (helpful for sweaters)

Blocking Pins and T Pins - pins used to hold your project to the blocking mats so it doesn’t warp as it dries

Ball Winder - tool with a revolving handle (like how you roll your window down in old cars) that winds yarn up into a ball or cake

*Useful when paired with a yarn swift for quickly balling up hanks

Shawl Pin - Not just for knitters, but for all wearers of shawls! These keep your shawl in place wrapped around you, and they can be either practical or stylish.

*If you’re giving a shawl as a gift, adding a shawl pin to the package is the cutest touch :)

Row Counter - a small digital ring that goes on your finger when you knit so that you can quickly record when you’ve finished a row.

*If you don’t like the idea of that, there are apps for row counting on your phone.

Knitting Gauge - a thin metal sheet with holes for every needle size, so that when the label on your knitting needle rubs off you can test your needle to check the size.

*If buy a plastic one, over time the holes can wear down and become inaccurate, but this takes a long while

Sock Blockers - solid inserts to hold your socks while the dry from blocking and helps shape them

Stitch marker - small rings or clips to put on your needles to mark a border between sections

*Lots of Etsy shops make really cute themed stitch markers

*If you’re not going for cute and stylish, don’t bother buying these and instead just find some bright or contrasting colored yarn and cut it into pieces and tie.

Felting Tool - a small pronged tool that felts yarn.

*Felt the yarn by repeatedly stamping this tool

*Used to fuse two strands together

Knitting Loom - used for a whole other branch of knitting called loom knitting. You’d use separate patterns for this that are made for knitting looms.

Knitting Machine - a fun but frustrating device that does your knitting for you.

*Emphasis on frustrating…props to you if you’ve used one with success! (And comment below what toxic vat of goo you fell into to get those magical powers)

Yarn Swift - a tool you wrap your hank around to help with unwinding

*If you always buy yarn packaged in hanks, this is a great investment that pairs well with a ball winder

Wool Wash - soap used for washing yarn before it is hand dyed.

Lint Shaver - helps with removing felted pills on your knitted garments

*I do not own one and cannot a-test to their effectiveness, let me know if you can!

Yarn Bobbins - wind yarn around this instead of balling it up

Blank Yarn - undyed yarn for home dyeing

Speckled and Tonal Yarn - Two home dyeing techniques: speckled yarn is yarn with spots, or speckles to add variety and tonal yarn is yarn of the same hue with varied shades.

Comment with any extra materials you can think of or alternate explainations of these weights and materials as you see fit! I definitely didn’t get them all, but I hope this is a decent starting point for some of you. :) Also, I didn’t include any materials for spinning, so if you enjoy spinning, feel free to comment some materials you’ve used in the process! 


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