“Do knitters ever use their own slang or lingo? Sometimes I come across odd phrases and I’m not sure what they mean! Can you please help?”

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““Do knitters ever use their own slang or lingo? Sometimes I come across odd phrases and I’m not sure what they mean! Can you please help?””

–Lynda E.

Every group of people with shared interests has its own lingo, and we knitters are no different. There are, of course, abbreviations every new knitter must learn. After all, it would be difficult to read patterns without knowing “ssk” means slip, slip, knit, or “p2tog” means purl two together. But beyond the purely technical terms, knitters have a collection of quirky phrases that are largely unknown to outsiders. Here a few of my favorites:

Muggle: Speaking of outsiders, this word is used by knitters to refer to those unfortunate enough to be non-knitters. Harry Potter fans will recognize “muggle” as the term for people living outside the magical world. Example – I love coming to knitting group because I can’t discuss my projects with the muggles at home.

Frog: This is the often painful process of ripping out one’s knitted work. Many believe the term is inspired by the distinctive “ribbit” sound that occurs when stitches are being pulled out. Example – I found a huge mistake in my shawl, and I had to frog 20 rows.

Tink: Meaning un-knit, this term is actually the word “knit” spelled backward. Knitters can employ this useful technique to correct mistakes without having to frog. Example – Since he caught the mistake in the last row, he was able to tink back and fix it.

UFO: Unfinished Objects or UFOs are incomplete knitting projects. Example: Instead of starting a new project, she decided to finish one of her many UFOs.

TOAD: Completely unrelated to frogging, this term is an acronym that stands for Trashed Object Abandoned in Disgust. This is what happens to UFOs that are beyond all hope. Example – That sweater is now a TOAD. I just couldn’t figure out the decreases.

Sweater Curse: This legend warns knitters against making a sweater for a sweetheart lest the relationship end in heartbreak as soon as the sweater is finished. Example – To avoid the sweater curse, she decided not to make a sweater for her fiance until after the honeymoon.

Yarn Barf: This term refers to the big clump of yarn that is sometimes disgorged from the center of a ball. Example: He always pulls from the outside of the ball with this type of yarn to avoid the yarn barf.

SSS: Short for second sock syndrome, this refers to the unfortunate tendency to knit one sock without ever getting around to finishing its mate. Example – She never suffers from SSS because she uses circular needles to knit two socks at a time.

SABLE: An acronym which stands for Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy, this term refers to knitters’ propensity for obtaining more yarn than it is humanly possible to knit. Example – I just had to buy that gorgeous sock yarn even though I know it is totally SABLE. yarn ball