All About Yarnovers

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This article was originally published in Yarn Forward to accompany my Forestry pattern.

There is more than one way to create a yarnover, depending on the placement of the yarnover in relation to the stitches around it. This tutorial demonstrates the different methods and compares ‘yarn forward’ to ‘yarn back’.

Between Knit and Purl Stitches

1) Firstly, we’ll look at creating a yarnover after a knit stitch and before a purl stitch. After knitting the last stitch before the placement of the yarnover, bring your yarn forward, as if to purl.
2) With your yarn in front, bring it up and over the needle towards the back, and then back under to the front again, ready to purl the next stitch. This creates a nice, full hole.
3) Proceed to purl the next stitch as directed in the pattern.

Between Purl and Knit Stitches

4) When a yarnover needs to occur between a purl stitch and a knit stitch, take the yarn back (as if to knit) after purling the last stitch.
5) With your yarn at the back, bring the yarn up and over the needle towards the front, then down and under again, finishing with the yarn at the back, ready to knit the next stitch.

Working Across Yarnovers

6) When it comes round to knit the yarnovers in the next round or row, there are some things to bear in mind to maximise the hole or eyelet. Here, we’re approaching the yarnover we created between a knit and purl stitch.
7) To get the most out of this yarnover, knit into the front of the loop, just as you would a knit stitch – this leaves the hole nice and open.
8) When the yarnover is created between a purl and knit stitch, knitting into the front twists it, and we want to avoid doing that.
9) This time, knit into the back of the loop to open out the hole, and balance the yarnover with others in the pattern.


 In brief – if the yarnover is between a knit and purl stitch, bring the yarn forward and fully wrap the needle.

If the yarnover is between a purl and knit stitch, take the yarn back and again, fully wrap the needle.

Working this way not only maximises the eyelet, but also leaves the yarn in the correct place for working the next stitch.

Whichever direction you took the yarn to create the yarnover, you knit into it in the same direction; that is, if you took the yarn back, knit into the back of the yarnover.



 British terms for creating a yarnover are often confusing to those more familiar with US terms. Here’s a quick rundown of what they mean:

yf (yarn forward) – bring yarn forward (most commonly used to create a yarnover between 2 knit stitches)

yb (yarn back) – take yarn back

yfrn (yarn forward and round needle) – used to make a yarnover between a knit and a purl stitch (steps 1 to 3 above)

yon (yarn over needle) – used to make a yarnover between a purl and a knit stitch (steps 4 and 5 above)

yrn (yarn round needle) – used to make a yarnover between 2 purl stitches

Essentially, they all mean the same thing – you’re creating a stitch, a yarnover, except that the British terms indicate the direction in which to wrap the yarn.


As always, if you have a question about this technique or need some help with it, leave a comment below! I’m afraid I’m unable to offer help via email or private message, but you’re welcome to post in our forum.


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