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Terms Used in Vintage Knitting Patterns

Antique drawing of a knitted cloud

Before the invention of an international standard, a lot of knitting terms and abbreviations were different to the ones we use today. Here are some of the more common terms used in Victorian knitting patterns.

K. Knit plain.
P. Purl; to knit a stitch with the thread before the needle. Purling is the opposite of plain knitting.
S. Seam; the same as purl.
N. Narrow; to decrease by knitting two stitches together. Narrowing may be done by knitting or purling 2 or more stitches together, but the term Narrow or its abbreviation is only used for
knitting two stitches together.
O. Over; throw the thread over the needle before inserting it into the next stitch. This is done to make a stitch. Before purling it is necessary to “over” twice to make a stitch.
Tw. Twist stitch. This is made by knitting from the back part of the
loop. The right needle is put in behind the left needle, and passes
through the loop from right to left, much the same as purling, except
that in purling the needle is passed through the front of the loop.
S. or Sl. Slip; to slip or pass a stitch from one needle to the other without knitting it.
Sl. and b. Slip and bind; slip one stitch, knit the next, pass the slipped stitch over it. To bind off, knit two plain stitches, pass the first over the second, and so on to the last stitch, always counting the
stitch left on the needle as one.
*. Star. This indicates a repetition and is used merely to save words.
Make 1. Same as “Over”
for an
Strip for an afghan. Ie: Knit several strips and sew or crochet them together to form a large square or rectangular afghan
Cloud A wide scarf that can also be worn as a shawl. Click here to see a picture of a cloud being worn.
Tidies A square or rectangular piece of work used to protect the backs and arms of chairs from being soiled.

Copyright © Sarah Bradberry 2000