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Knitting patterns

Patterns can be bought individually or in themed books which are usually better value. Magazines are also an excellent way of building up a ‘library’ of favourite patterns. There are some free (and some paid-for) patterns on the web.

Once you have found a pattern that works well for you in terms of sizing and shape, you can adapt it a bit, for example, experimenting with different stitches, colour blocks or stripes, or adding motifs. Sizing is very important if you are going ‘off piste’ with knitting patterns - see sizes page to avoid some common pitfalls.


Some years ago when I arrived at Moscow airport, a security officer took great interest in the knitting pattern I had in my hand luggage. I imagine he thought it was some kind of secret code!

Patterns are written in a kind of code which - though not secret to experienced knitters - can baffle novices. Abbreviations are used for instructions which would otherwise be very long and repetitive. All patterns include a guide to their abbreviations and I have listed some common ones on this page.

Here too is an explanation of some ‘technical’ ones:

s1,k1,psso:  slip one stitch (pass a stitch from left needle to right needle without knitting it), knit one stitch, pass slipped stitch over (using the left needle, pull the slipped stitch forward over the knitted stitch and off the right needle). It’s a way of decreasing neatly by one stitch, commonly used to shape a raglan sleeve.

k2tog tbl: knit 2 together through back of loop.  Insert the right hand needle into the next two stitches on the left hand needle through the back of the loops, on the side away from you; then knit both stitches together. Again, it decreases by one stitch. You might see purl variations of these instructions (s1,p1,psso and p2tog tbl for doing the same procedure but with purl).

m1: make 1,  a means of increasing by one of two methods:

1. Knit into both the front and back of the next stitch, before pushing it off the left-hand needle.

2. Pick up the loop from the row below (between your last and next stitches) and knit into it.









  yf OR yfwd

yrn forward


yarn round needle


make 1








wool over needle


wool round needle


knit 2 stitches together