Knitter’s slang


Anyone who is active on the internet, and in particular in the social media, will sooner or later run into various strange terms and combinations of letters. Just as LOL has become common usage almost everywhere, the world of knitting has also produced its share of slang, used on Ravelry or knitting blogs, which might confuse beginning knitters. But don’t worry, this slang is easily learned! Here is a little introduction ...


FO = Finished Object


Finished Object

This is just what it says. A knit or crochet project that is entirely finished – including hiding the yarn ends … cheeky The opposite of an FO might be OTN, PHD, WIP or UFO.



On The Needles

This is obvious – a project which is actually on the knitting needles at the moment. It might be a PHD, WIP or UFO.



Project half done
This might sound like an academic title but as far as knitting or crochet is concerned, it means a project which is half-way to completion.  
WIP = Work in Progress


Work In Progress

Once again, when you understand which words the letters represent, the meaning is clear. This is a knitting or crochet project on which you work regularly, for example every evening or every weekend. Even if you also intersperse the occasional smaller project, like a pair or socks, or if you don’t find the time to knit every day, your project is considered a WIP if you are actively in the process of completing it – it is in your thoughts and you actively work on it when you find the time. The opposite of a WIP might be a UFO.



UnFinished Object

Every project which is OTN is still in the process of being completed so it is not yet a FO and might be considered an UFO. But that is not quite what is meant by this abbreviation.

If a project is OTN but is being neglected or has been totally abandoned – therefore not actively a WIP – it is considered to be a UFO. A UFO might remain in this state of partial-completion for weeks, months or even years! The reasons for this are many. Maybe another project is more appealing, or the yarn has run out or there is simply no time or inclination to work on this particular project.

UFOs are especially characteristic for knitters who work on several projects at the same time. Anyone who lacks the discipline to finish one project before starting the next might have several parallel projects OTN. Usually, one or more of such projects receive more attention than the others. This turns some WIPs into UFOs, unless work is continued evenly on all projects. One project might become a favorite, to the detriment of the others, which might even be forgotten entirely.


UFO - unfinished object, the project that was abandoned or neglected


Un-recognized Object
It may happen that we discover an old UFO and can no longer remember what it was originally supposed to be. In this case, we call it an unrecognized object (URO or UO). If at some point, we remember what the project is, it again becomes an UFO or possibly even a WIP if we meet the challenge of completing it, and thereby eventually give it the status of a FO. One single project can easily go through several stages or even vacillate between WIP and UFO. This can be caused by many things and one is referred to as SSS.


Second Sock Syndrome

The second sock syndrome is a wide-spread phenomenon in which the second sock of a pair takes much longer to complete than the first sock did – or in which the second sock doesn’t even get started. Usually, a new project is started with élan. The new pattern or the color changes of the yarn are greeted with enthusiasm. But when the first sock is completed, the motivation to begin or complete the second sock dwindles. After all, in most cases, the second sock is identical to the first one and is therefore more boring to knit. Some knitters begin a new project before the second sock has been completed. A single sock is a classic UFO! With luck, the single sock will be given a partner sooner or later.

SSS could just as well mean the second sleeve syndrome, since this problem concerns all projects for which a second, identical piece or section must be made: socks, sleeves, mittens, pant legs, etc. TAAT might be the solution.

SSS = Second Sock Syndrome


Two At A Time

For some people, TAAT is the solution to the problem of SSS, a solution which also prevents too many UFOs. Anyone who makes two socks, two sleeves or two other identical pieces in parallel, kills two birds with one stone. On the one hand, there is no danger that the motivation for the second piece disappears. It does take longer to achieve results but then the entire pair is finished. On the other hand, the two pieces are more reliably identical when they are made TAAT. The longer the first sock or sleeve has to survive as a single unit before the second half of the pair appears, the greater the risk that the second piece turns out differently because the details have been forgotten or the instructions have been misplaced. With TAAT this can’t happen.



Double Pointed Needles
These are the sets of short needles with points on both ends which are used for socks, mittens, etc.


Local Yarn Shop

The LYS is your favorite brick and mortar store – the place you go to get yarn or help for a particular project or where a CAL/KAL, workshop, or other knitting event takes place.



Crochet-A-Long / Knit-A-Long

Why crochet or knit alone when you can work together (along) with others? In these globalized and digitalized times this can mean that you actually get together physically or that you join an online group.

In an online CAL or KAL, people work on the same project, at the same time, each in their own home, but sharing experiences, photos, etc. as a group. This sharing takes place in social media, such as a Facebook or Ravelry group which was established expecially for the CAL or KAL. Often a hashtag is also established so that all the participlants’ photos can be easily found.

Such a CAL/KAL might be created by a designer, a blogger, a yarn company or a LYS. Normally, the creator selects a design (possibly their own design), suggests a suitable yarn, and sets a date on which to begin. Each participant chooses their own yarn and begins the CAL/KAL on the official starting date. In many cases, the instructions aren’t made available until this date.

The procedure for a CAL/KAL can vary, depending on the project. For a cardigan, for example, the entire instructions might be distributed at the beginning of the CAL/KAL and everyone starts working at the same time. Everyone can work at their own speed. In some cases, a final date may be set, by which the project must be completed. It can also happen, however, that the CAL/KAL is more relaxed, without time pressure, and interested participants can join after the official start.

On the other hand, there are versions in which time plays an important role. Here the instructions might be released section by section at regular intervals. For example, a patchwork blanket is a good project to combine several patterns, and to distribute the instructions piece by piece. Each participant has a clearly set time frame in which to complete one square, before the instructions for the next square arrive. In most cases, the participants see what the finished project will look like, before they begin. 

Stash - the yarn you own

There are, however, also so-called “mystery” CALs/KALs, and here the group members do not know what the finished knit or crochet object will look like. Of course, the organizers want the participants to be able to complete the project and to be satisfied with the result so they usually supply certain information at the beginning. For example, they might say that the finished object will be a scarf in such-and-such size and that this or that technique will be used. In particular, clear information concerning the yarn must, of course, be given at the start. Similarly to the patchwork blanket example, the secret will be disclosed, section by section, on pre-defined dates, with the entire finished object being revealed at the end. With such a CAL/KAL, the surprise effect is just as important as the group working together. 



Stash isn’t an abbreviation but it is a very important term, which definitely must be included in this list. A stash is all the yarn you own. It is not only the yarn that you are using for your current WIP but includes all the individual balls – or multiple balls – that you have collected over time. It can be decoratively presented, for example in a basket, sorted on shelves, or stored in tightly closed plastic boxes, to keep it safe from moths. Anyone who is really “hooked” on knitting or crochet has trouble resisting the temptations in their LYS and will collect a stash, a little (or a lot) at a time.  
Frogging - rib it rib it!


Anyone whose stash has grown so much that a larger house is needed to hold everything would do well to select a project which can be made from the yarn on hand. There are instructions for many projects which use left-over yarn and also one-skein projects which are a wonderful way to reduce the size of a stash. Projects which dig into the mountain of yarn are called stash-busters. Of course, this also means that they create room for new yarn! cool



No matter whether you knit alone or in a group, sometimes you make an error. If you read the word KNIT backwards, you have TINK. And that is exactly what this word describes – knitting backwards, or un-knitting. This is different than “frogging” (see below) and means the process of undoing one stitch at a time, to reach an error, in order to repair it. In other words, TINKing is the slow, careful process of unknitting, with the project remaining OTN the whole time.



Frogging, on the other hand, means the process of unravelling a knit piece. The knitting is removed from the needles and all the work of the last hours, days or weeks is quickly undone. And what does this process have to do with frogs? Frogs call “ribbit, ribbit” and that sounds like “rip it, rip it”. 




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