Reading Knitting Patterns

Reading Knitting Patterns

A Free Knitting Lesson from Liz @PurlsAndPixels

Knitting patterns are full of abbreviations, and learning what they mean makes reading knitting patterns easier. Knitters usually use a shorthand to keep track of the stitches they make when writing a pattern.How to read knitting patterns, understanding abbreviations, knitting lesson from PurlsAndPixels


Many knitters today follow the Crafty Yarn Council’s collection of knitting abbreviations as a standard way of shortening words in knitting patterns. However, not everyone uses these abbreviations, and sometimes a pattern writer needs to create their own shorthand. Most designers will provide a list of abbreviations or a key at the beginning of the pattern. Check this section before you get started, since pattern writers don’t always follow the same rules.

There are some basic knitting abbreviations that most knitters do use, and you’ll want to get to know these when you first start learning to knit.

  • c/o or CO = cast on
  • k = knit
  • p = purl
  • * * = usually means repeat the instructions between the asterisks

For a more detailed list of knitting abbreviations to help you with reading knitting patterns, see the Crafty Yarn Council’s list of standard abbreviations.

Learn how to make beginner knitting stitch patterns here.

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