How to Translate American and British Terms in Crochet and Knitting Patterns

Even though the United States and the United Kingdom share a common language, sometimes it feels like you need a translator, and that’s especially true when it comes to knitting and crochet terms. You may have watched a knitting pattern and seen instructions that sound familiar, but not exactly the same as what you are used to. Or worse, you started a crochet project and it doesn’t go as planned. Chances are the issue is related to US and UK terminology. The good news is that it’s easy to learn the differences and work with patterns on either side of the pond.

The first thing to do is to check if the model indicates that it uses US or UK terms. If it is not indicated on the pattern, Ravelry East a good source to find this information; another option is to find where the model was published. You can also check for spelling clues (the color, for example, signifies an American motif while the color is a good sign that it is from the UK). For crochet patterns, if it includes single crochet stitches, you’ll know it’s American. Just to confuse things a bit more, Canadian models use a mix of US and UK terms. For example, they use American crochet stitch terminology, but the UK voltage instead of gauge. Again, always check what system a model is using before you start.

Related: Here’s Why You Should Start a Swatch Knitting Journal Today

Knitting

With knitting, the most glaring differences are for a few stitch patterns that have similar names, but are not identical. But the potentially most confusing terms relate to moving the wire for different reasons; because the names are so similar, be very careful not to end up with big holes caused by poor technique. American (US) terms translate to the following British (UK) terms: gauge is voltage; cast off (BO) is cast off; yarn (YO) is yarn forward (YF); yarn/wool on needle (YON/WON); round needle yarn/wool (YRN/WRN). The term forward yarn, in both American and British terms, can sometimes simply mean moving the yarn forward as you would when working a purl after a knit.

Most patterns tell you exactly which stitches to work, rather than just telling you to work a particular stitch pattern, however, it’s good to know which knit pattern you’re doing. In American patterns, working alternate rows of knit and purl stitches produces stockinette stitch, which is equivalent to stockinette stitch in the UK. If you work alternating knit and purl stitches in a row, and continue like this to create a reversible pattern with a little bumpy texture, it’s called moss stitch in American models and moss stitch in British models. There is also an American stitch pattern called garter stitch, known as double garter stitch in the UK, which is an elongated version of moss stitch or garter stitch.

Crochet

The most important and potentially confusing difference in terminology concerns crochet. It’s because basic crochet stitches use the same names but for different points. Looking at the points list, you will see that the progression is the same, but the US version starts with single crochet where the UK version begins with double hook. American (US) terms translate to the following British (UK) terms: single bracket (SC) is double bracket (DC); half double crochet (HDC) is half treble crochet (HTR); double crochet (DC) is treble crochet (TC); treble crochet (TC) is a double treble crochet (DTR); the double treble (DTR) is the triple treble crochet (TTR); the triple treble crochet (TTR) is the quadruple crochet (QTR); the gauge is the voltage; to jump (SK) is to miss (MS); yarn (YO) is crochet yarn (YOH); buckle or bind off is folded down.

Yarn, hooks and needles

In addition to the differences in terminology for crochet and knit stitches and techniques, you may also find that types of yarn have alternative labeling. Just as you want to use the right methods while working, you also need to make sure that you have the right thread to start. American (US) terms translate to the following British (UK) terms: the spider’s web is one-ply; the weight of the lace is two-ply; fingering and sock are three-ply and four-ply; the sport is five-ply; light worsted or DK is a double knit (DK); the worst is aran; bulky is fat; super bulky is super big.

The numbering system of hooks and knitting needles also require translation. American hooks and needles have numbers that go from small to large when the size goes from small to large. In the British system, numbers run from large to small as size runs from small to large. Most newer patterns, hooks and needles also give the metric size, which is standard.

About Tracy G. Larimore

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