Crochet Glossary - learn the lingo!
Don't know your WIPs from your CALs? And what's all this about frogs? Don't worry, we're here to help you learn all the abbreviations and crochet slang!
You may know how to crochet, but there's a lot of words associated with crochet and yarns that may confuse beginners. Below you'll find our definitive guides to all those phrases that you might hear at your crochet club or read online!
Glossary of Crochet Terms
Amigurumi is the word given to crocheted stuffed toys. The word is a portmanteau of the Japanese words – ‘ami’ meaning ‘crocheted or knitted’, and ‘nuigurumi’ meaning ‘stuffed doll’.You can find out more about this fun craft in our What is Amigurumi guide.
The term Appliqué comes from sewing and describes attaching cut-out fabric shapes onto a backing fabric to create patterns and pictures. In crochet this is usually done with motifs and shapes.
Different from a ball or skein, a bobbin describes yarn that is wound much like that of a sewing thread bobbin - normally wound around a spool (which is often removed after the yarn is wound)
Blocking is a finishing technique used with crocheted or knitted items to ensure your crochet fabric lies flat and to the desired final measurements. Particularly important for using with garments or real wool fibres, blocking involves using water or steam to relax the fibres and neaten up your crochet fabric. You can find out more in our guide on how to block your crochet using a blocking board
You can't eat these cakes, but they're still delicious! A yarn cake is a description that is used for yarn that is wound in a way to resemble... well a cake! This can include yarn you have wound yourself using a wool winder, or it can refer to yarn that is produced by companies that has been spun in this way. Commercially available yarn cakes often include attractive colour gradients, and the benefit of it being spun into a yarn cake is that you can see how the colours transition throughout the whole amount of yarn.
CAL is an acronym for Crochet-along. When crafters are invited to complete the same pattern, sometimes within a specified time period, often stage by stage. It’s a good challenge and fosters fuzzy feelings of community among participants.
An abbreviation for 'Corner-to-corner' – an easy-peasy diagonal crochet technique.
Clusters is a generic term for a group of stitches together in the same place. Often used to create a semi-circle/shell style effect, clusters can be made up of any number of stitches (though most commonly 4 or 5 treble crochet stitches), and if the word 'cluster' is used in a pattern there will normally be a description included of what makes up that cluster.
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Crochet-hacking is a trend that has proved really popular in recent years. It follows the 'make do and mend' ethos, and describes taking an old garment or item of clothing and using crochet to update it and give it new life. This can include altering the garment to create something completely different, or even just updating a garment with appliqué crochet motifs.
A portmanteau term referring to your crochet 'mojo' - your enthusiasm or energy for something. For example, "I've lost my crojo" or "I've got my crojo back"
Sorting your stash (see below) in order to swap, sell, donate or discard unwanted yarns.
The term drape describes how a piece of fabric hangs, but can also be thought of as describing how flexible a fabric is. For crochet garments the quality of the drape can be an important factor that affects how well a garment fits or 'flows'. Yarn choices and different crochet stitches can affect the final drape of a project, for example, double crochet stitches and a chunky yarn will create a more solid fabric that is not as flexible as a fabric made from treble stitches and a 4ply yarn.
Embellishing a project is similar to crochet-hacking, where you add some crochet to a garment or item. This can be as simple as adding some crochet edging on to a top, creating a new crochet strap for a bag, or transforming some flip flops into slippers!
Felting is the term used for when fibres are merged and matted together. Normally occurring with natural wool and animal fibres, the felting effect is often achieved by agitating the fibres with hot water or pressure. Some yarns are deliberately produced with fibres that will easily felt thanks to the fibre construction, but felting can also be achieved by machine washing a wool item (although this is a bit of an art form, as shrinkage can also occur). Of course felting can also occur by accident if you wash a wool item on a non-wool setting on your washing machine. Synthetic and Cotton fibres won't felt.
Frogging is the act of undoing your crochet, so-called because you ‘rip-it, rip-it’ like the onomatopoeic frog’s ‘ribbit ribbit’ sound. For example, "I went wrong in the first round so I’m frogging it."
When you see mention of the front or back loops, this is referring to where you will insert you hook in a stitch. If you are just doing a standard stitch, you will be inserting your hook under both loops at the top of your stitch (they resemble a V on it's side). When a pattern tells you to insert your hook in the front loop only (FLO), this is the loop facing you (or closest to you) - similarly the back loop is the loop furthest away from you.
An acronym for 'Finished Object'. You may see UFO (Unfinished Object). For examples, "So proud of my latest FO!"
The halo of a yarn is the description for the 'fuzziness' or 'fluffiness' of the loose fibres on a yarn. The halo can be a good indicator of how much a yarn will felt and mat together when worked up, but at the same time yarns with a large halo will be more inclined to pilling (see below).
Acronym for 'Hot Off The Hook'. Normally used when posting or sharing a picture of an item you've just finished making
Although this may seem obvious (the increasing and decreasing of stitches), these can look a bit confusing at first as patterns won't always specifically use these words. Increases will often be achieved by working multiple stitches into the same place - for example, '2tr in next st'. Likewise, decreases are done with special decrease stitches, for example dc2tog (literally meaning 'double crochet two together), which is a way of turning two double crochet stitches into just one stitch.
An acronym for 'Local Yarn Store'. You may occasionally see the similar term B&M store, referring to a 'Bricks and Mortar' store.
Sometimes also called 'Magic Loop', 'Magic Circle', 'Drawstring Loop' or 'Adjustable loop'. This is a starting technique often used with Amigurumi or other circular projects. It allows you to create your first round of stitches and then tighten the loop so there is no visible hole in the centre of your round. You can find our video tutorial and guide here!
Neps is a term referring to matted or tangled clumps or fibres within a yarn. These are often removed during the production process, but are often deliberately left in to create interesting effects, such as with tweed yarns.
A picot is a small loop of chains, which is normally used for decorative effect. You may have seen these use to create trefoil effects.
Not to be confused with Neps, Pills (or what might be more commonly known as bobbles) are little clumps of fibres that develop on a fabric due to agitation (for example, after repeated washing). You can get yarns that have been designed to be anti-pilling, which is a good choice for things like baby clothes that will need to be washed often. The use of bobble or lint removers is not recommended for hand-crocheted items as they have the potential to damage the yarns structural integrity.
Post stitches are stitches where instead of inserting your hook into the stitch, you actually insert your hook around the stitch. This helps to give a raised texture to your crochet fabric, and is often used to create ribbing for garments. Post stitches will be described as front post (FP) or back post (BP), which refers to whether you insert your hook 'around the post' of the stitch from the front or the back of the fabric.
Right side/Wrong Side
You may not realise it but crochet does actually have a right and a wrong side - it's just not always obvious which is which! Basically, when you make your first row of stitches, these stitches are facing you, and for this example we'll call this the right side. Then when you go onto the next row, you will have turned your work, so now even though the stitches are still facing you, this is the wrong side.
If that's a bit confusing, just think of making a circle where you don't turn. The side facing you when you make your stitches is the right side, and your stitches will look crisp and defined. If you turn it around the wrong side will be a lot less defined and will more obviously be the back of the stitches.
The term 'seam' is used in the same way as it is in sewing and tailoring - used to describe the area where two shapes are joined together. There are various techniques for how to create a seam in crochet, check out our guide on how to join crochet shapes together.
An acronym for 'Stash Accumulation Beyond Life Expectancy'. When you've collected more yarn than you could ever possibly use - the struggle is real!
The word 'skein' or 'hank' describes yarn that has been wound up differently to a ball or bobbin. Skeins are usually made by the yarn being wound in large loops, which are then tied together and twisted into what we call a skein. This is normally used on hand spun or hand dyed yarns, one reason for this is it enables dyers to 'paint' colours evenly over sections of yarn. There is also less pressure put on the yarn while winding it into a skein rather than a ball which can affect the final yarn weight. If you are trying to unwind a skein, it is best to use a combination of a swift and wool winder (some people will try wrapping it around a chair or a pair of hands to unwind it, but this often leads to tangles!)
This is the name given to your ever-growing collection of yarn and/or craft supplies. For example, "Use any yellow DK from your stash."
The practice of intentionally making things using yarn from your stash in an attempt to tame it. Beware, this can become a lengthy endeavour, depending on the magnitude of said yarn stash.
A swift is vital for unwinding yarn skeins. It is a device that works a bit like a spinning umbrella. You untwist your skein and remove any ties so you have one large loop of multiple strands of yarn. You then place this onto the swift and adjust the swift so that it holds the loop of yarn in safely place. Then attaching one end of the yarn to a wool winder, you unwind the yarn, and the swift rotates to allow you to unwind the yarn evenly into a yarn cake that you can easily crochet from. Swifts come in a variety of materials from wood to plastic, and normally come with a way of attaching the swift to a table for sturdiness.
A term given to gutsy crocheters. It’s a play on the word troublemaker and can be used interchangeably with hookster or, if you’re feeling extra cheeky, hooker. E.g. Join our online community by sharing your Simply Crochet makes with our hashtag #SCtreblemaker.
Tunisian crochet is a whole different technique that uses a long hook. Instead of working one stitch at a time as in normal crochet, with Tunisian crochet you keep several stitches on the hook at one time, much like knitting, and work and remove the stitches in 'passes' of alternate rows. It creates an interesting closed fabric that is quite similar to knitted fabric, and there are a range of Tunisian stitches to add variety. You can find our guide on How to do Tunisian Crochet here.
When crocheters refer to a yarn weight, they're not talking about how heavy the yarn is, but how thick the yarn is (for example, this yarn is an Aran weight). Yarns come in a variety of weights, and the names for these can differ depending on whether you're from the UK or the US. You can find our guide to yarn weights here!
An acronym for 'Work-in-progress'
A wool winder is exactly what it sounds like - a device for winding wool. Normally used in combination with a swift, these little devices allow you to neatly unwind skeins of yarn into a yarn cake which is easier to crochet with.
The act of decorating public places with crochet or knitting, sometimes covertly. This art form is also known as yarn graffiti or yarn storming.
Matt Spiers is a crochet artist and designer who has been overseeing Gathered's crochet articles for over 2 years. He previously worked as Digital Assistant for Simply Crochet magazine and is our in house video editing pro. What started as a hobby a decade ago led to Matt developing a passion (and then a career) with crochet. As well as still regularly writing and designing for Simply Crochet magazine, Matt is a crochet artist in his own right, having displayed and created crochet installations at festivals and fibre events across the UK. You can keep up to date with Matt at @onemancrochet on Instagram.
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