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Cracking the (Pattern) Code, Part 6: Abbreviations

Technical editor and yarncrafting expert Kj Hay joins us for a series on understanding the different elements of patterns. Click here to read her earlier blog posts.

Cracking the (Pattern) Code: Abbreviations | Lion Brand NotebookThe extensive use of abbreviations can make knit and crochet patterns appear to be written in Klingon or Elvish rather than a human language. There are two sources of abbreviations used in pattern instructions; 1) Standard abbreviations, and 2) Special abbreviations.

Standard Abbreviations

The meaning of standard abbreviations and the unabbreviated forms are widely known and understood in the knit/crochet world. Accordingly, standard abbreviations are simply listed at the beginning or end of pattern instructions or in the reference section of magazines and books. Further explanation and illustration of such abbreviations can be found in any basic book about knit or crochet, or by searching the web. Examples of standard abbreviations include: st(s) = stitch(es), rep = repeat, RS = right side, and yo = yarn over.

Editor's note: You can find abbreviations on in our Learning Center, and when you click on the individual term, a brief explanation will open. Click here for the Abbreviations page.

Special Abbreviations

When a less widely known stitch is used, the steps to complete the stitch are defined in a special section. Such stitches and abbreviations may differ from pattern to pattern, so it is particularly important to read special abbreviation definitions carefully. Examples of special abbreviations include B (bobble), inc (increase), Cl (cluster), and Loop st.


If you are particularly distracted by abbreviations, get a digital copy of the pattern and use the “replace” feature in your word processor to carefully replace each abbreviation with its unabbreviated form.

Read through the entire set of instructions to ensure that you understand all of the abbreviations. When you encounter an abbreviation you do not recognize check both the list of standard abbreviations and any special abbreviations section. If you do not find the abbreviation in either of these sections, search a reference book or the web. If you still do not find the abbreviation, you may need to contact the pattern publisher.

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