Glossary of Knitting Terms

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Aran - a traditional style of patterned textured knitting that originated from the Aran Islands, which are off the coast of Ireland. Argyle - a geometric pattern with large diamond shapes in two or three colours overlaid with a pattern of diagonal lines in a contrasting colour. Backstitch - a stitch used to join two pieces of fabric together, with even, small stitches forming a straight, continuous line on one side and longer, overlapping stitches on the reverse, see page 62. Ball band - the paper band round a ball or hank of yarn when it is purchased, which gives the brand name, ply and fibre content of the yarn, the shade and dye lot, recommended gauge, needle sizes and washing instructions.

Binding off - the term used in the US for casting off. Blanket Stitch - a type of embroidery stitch that is normally used to finish off a raw edge. Blocking - the pinning out of each piece of knitting to the correct shape and dimensions before pressing, see page 58.

Bobble - a group of stitches worked several times, producing a raised bobble on the right side of the fabric, see page 53.

Cable - a method of moving a group of stitches across the fabric, or crossing one set of stitches over another, to make a pattern like a rope. Cable needles - short, double-pointed needles used when moving groups of stitches in cable or twisted stitch patterns

Casting off - the term used in the UK for securing the stitches permanently when a piece of knitting is finished, see page 37.

Casting on - the term used for making the first row of stitches. There are a number of different methods, see pages 22-25.

Charts - a visual representation of a pattern, showing the exact placement of colours or stitches on a grid. They are usually used in conjunction with written pattern instructions, see also page 18. Continental method - a way of knitting in which the right needle is held in the right hand like a knife, and the left over the top. The working yarn is controlled with the left hand. It is faster than the English method, but it is harder to get an even, consistent stitch.

Damp finishing - a method of damping the finished piece of knitting so it can be flattened and pulled into shape without steam pressing. It is used for synthetic yarns and when the knitting is highly textured, see page 59.

Decrease - the term for reducing the number of stitches on the needle. There are several methods, see pages 33, 40-1.

Decorative decreasing - another term for fully-fashioning, see page 40-1.

Dye lot - a number given to each dye batch of yarn in the same shade.

English method - a way of knitting in which the right needle is held in the right hand like a pen, and

Glossary the left over the top. The working yarn is controlled with the right hand. It is slower than the Continental method, but produces a more consistent, even stitch. Fair Isle - a pattern created in many different colours in stocking stitch. Each row is worked in two or more colours, although there may be many more colours used in the full design. The colour yarn not being used at any one time is carried across the back of the fabric, producing a double thickness. This type of knitting originated in the Shetland Isles, off Scotland. See page 46.

Flat seam - a method of oversewing edges that produces a completely flat seam, see page 62. Fully-fashioned - a term used to describe a garment in which the decreases are worked one or two stitches in from the edge, creating a decorative effect. This technique is most often used on raglan sleeves.

Garter stitch - term for the most basic knit pattern, in which every row is either knit or purl to produce a knitted fabric that is exactly the same on each side. It is also sometimes called plain knitting and is often used for bands or edgings.

Gauge - the US term for the way in which stitch size is measured. Correct gauge will give you the same size and shape item as specified in the pattern. Increase - term used for a method of shaping a piece of knitted fabric by adding stitches as you knit. See pages 34-5 and 38.

Intarsia - the name given to multi-coloured knitting in which separate balls of yarn are used for each area of colour so, unlike Fair Isle, the yarn not in use is not carried across the back of the fabric but joined in as required. There may be any number of colours used in any given row. See page 44. Knit stitch - the most basic stitch and usually the first that is learned, see pages 26-7. Lace knitting - a decorative fabric created by increasing and decreasing stitches to form open areas in different patterns. It can be included in a pattern as an all-over design or in selected areas, bands or panels.

Mattress stitch - a stitch used for joining pieces of knitted fabric that creates an invisible seam, see page 60-1.

Overcasting - the US term for sewing over the edges of the knitted fabric to create a flat seam. Oversewing - the UK term for overcasting. Pattern repeat - an area of pattern made up of a set number of stitches that is repeated several times across a row.

Pilling - the term for little bobbles of fibre that sometimes appear on the surface of knitted fabric when it has been worn or rubbed. The bobbles can be removed with a special machine and will grow less over time.

Ply - the term for the strands of fibre that make up a yarn, but also used to distinguish the thickness of yarns.

Pressing - the method used to flatten pieces of knitted fabric before they are sewn together. Pressing not only gives a professional finish, but also helps the garment to hold its shape, see page 59. Purl stitch - the second basic stitch in knitting, after knit stitch. The purl stitch is slightly more difficult to master, see page 28. When used in conjunction with knit stitch a whole range of very different patterns can be made.

Reverse stocking stitch - the reverse side of a piece of stocking stitch fabric. Rib - a knitted pattern in which alternate kit and purl stitches are worked to create an elastic fabric. It is often used as the edging on hem and cuffs. Single rib is one stitch of knit and purl worked alternately, double rib is two stitches of each worked alternately. See page 48.

Right side - the side of the fabric that will be seen on the outside when the finished garment is worn.

Row counter - a small cylindrical device with a dial used to record the number of rows.

Shaping - the term used to describe making slopes to left or right by increasing and decreasing the number of stitches on the needle.

Slip knot - a loop created at the start of casting on, see page 21.

Slip stitch - a method of joining one fabric on top of another.

Slipping stitch - a stitch that is passed from one needle to another without being worked. Split ring marker - little clips that can be attached to knitting to mark the beginning of a round in circular knitting, or for marking points in a stitch pattern.

Stockinette stitch - the US term for stocking stitch. Stocking stitch - the UK term for the most common knitted fabric, which is created by working alternate knit and purl rows, see page 28.

Stranding - a method of carrying the yarn that is not in use loosely across the back of the work, as in Fair Isle. See page 47.

Stitch holder - a holder like a large safety pin used to hold stitches that will be worked on later. Swatch - a knitted sample piece of the overall fabric, usually made to check the stitch gauge. Tension - the UK term for gauge. Texture knitting - creating a texture on the surface of the knitting by combining knit and purl stitches. Unravelling - undoing a piece of knitted fabric stitch by stitch, or row by row, which can be done with the knitting on or off the needles, see page 68-9.

Weaving - a method of catching the yarn not in use across the back of the work, when it is being carried more than 3 or 4 stitches. See page 47. Wrong side - the side of the fabric that will be on the inside, and so not normally seen, when the finished garment is worn.

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