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Learning the Language: Getting Started with Knitting Lingo

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Learning the Language: Getting Started with Knitting Lingo

As a new knitter I remember being confused not only by patterns, but by trying to read through online forums where more experienced knitters were chatting. Had I “spoken” up I’m sure I would have received guidance, however, I was too shy for that and silently tried to interpret the lingo they were slinging around.

Something that particularly confused me was “BO,” as in “What type of BO are you using?” Body odor? What? Prior to knitting, dealing with BO meant purchasing strong deodorant. When I finally realized it meant “bind off” I felt pretty silly.

Below are a few terms and abbreviations to get you started in the knitting world. These are some easily confused phrases, but it is not a complete list, Check the Lion Brand Glossary for common knit and crochet abbreviations.

knit frog
*Shown above: Frankie the Frog by Pattern Recogknition


Nope. We’re not heading to Colorado. This one is “Cast On.” In other words, let’s go, let’s get started. The act of creating an initial sequence of loops on your knitting needle(s).


As was mentioned in the introduction, this is not body odor, so tell your teenage self to stop giggling before you drop a stitch.


WIPs are works in progress. Sometimes stashed in bags and stuffed into dark corners to forget they exist. Often WIPs are shrouded in shame stemming from guilt of leaving an old project for something new and shiny.


Those WIPs that don’t get stashed* (hold on, we’ll get there) will eventually become an FO. FOs are a source of pride. These are your “Finished Objects” and prove that, yes, you actually do have some follow through.


This does not mean afternoon or bedtime. PM is short for “place marker.” Later in the pattern it will be followed by “SM” or “slip marker.”


Stash is the yarn you have tucked away for all those imagined future projects. Feelings toward stash vary. To some it is a dirty little secret that must not be spoken of. This type of stash reminds us of how little self control we have over buying more and more yarn. Other people flaunt their stash taking pride in its size.

As Established

This phrase is particularly problematic if you haven’t figured out what you’re doing. When you’re instructed to “work as established” you are simply going to be doing the same thing over and over again. Often a stitch pattern or repeat will have just been set up and you are being asked to continue working through this section for a specified length.

The Frog Pond

Sitting on a log, down by the bog. . . The frog pond is where projects go when they misbehave. You’ve been happily working along (perhaps as established?) and then come to a mistake you just can’t fix. When this happens you’ll need to “rippit” (English translation: rip it out). Some cute folks thought this sounded like the frog speak “ribbit.” So when you find yourself deciding to “rippit” you’ll be heading down to sing “ribbit, rippit” along with the frogs at the pond.

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