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How do I Yarn over?

Sylvia Cini
Sylvia Cini

In knitting, a yarn over creates a hole and increases the number of stitches, making the piece wider. In order to perform a yarn over, you must have knitted at least one complete row of stitches. With the finished stitches on the left needle, complete a knit or purl stitch as normal. Instead of progressing to the next stitch, wrap the yarn around the needle from back to front, and this is the yarn over. Complete the next stitch as you normally would. When you progress to the next row of stitches, treat the yarn over as if it were a complete stitch.

Yarn overs between two knit stitches or two purl stitches are performed this way. Performing a yarn over between a knit stitch and a purl stitch, however, is a slightly different process. Instead of completing stitches at the back of the needles, you make them in the front of the piece, the side facing you. To complete a yarn over when working with purls, wrap the yarn around the needle twice from back to front. This keeps the yarn on the right side of the needle.

Yarn for knitting.
Yarn for knitting.

Use caution when knitting or purling with a yarn over, because the looped yarn will be very loose and easy to drop. If you drop the yarn over and can see the yarn clearly, catch the loose thread between your fingers and replace it on the left needle. Otherwise, it might be necessary to undo the last two rows and start over.

A yarn over can be used to make a decorative pattern such as a row of eyelets for lace work. The hole created by a yarn over can also be used as a buttonhole. If working with fine material, such as fingering weight yarn, consider reinforcing the buttonholes with embroidery floss.

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Discussion Comments


I'm sure an experienced knitter would have no trouble with this, but I am far from experienced. I know how to cast on and do a couple of rows of knitting, but I haven't even progressed to the purl stitch yet! Yarn over sounds downright intimidating.

Maybe I need to take a page from @Grivusangel and learn to crochet. You only need one hook for that. Or maybe I'm just making it too difficult. There has to be a yarn over video on the Internet. I'll look for one and see if I can't figure out how this is done. It's probably something I'll need to learn if I want to keep knitting.


You also use "yarn over" in crochet. It's part of most stitches. You put the crochet hook through the stitch, bring the yarn over the hook and pull the yarn through. With some stitches, you may have three or four loops on the hook at once, and every time you yarn over, you pull the yarn through at least one loop, ending with just one loop on the hook. Then you start over again.

I don't knit, so I'm not familiar with all the knitting terms, but I do know there are a few crossover terms between knitting and crochet, and "yarn over" is one of them. I need to learn to knit. I think I would enjoy it.

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    • Yarn for knitting.
      By: Ekaterina Kolmakova
      Yarn for knitting.
    • Knitting needles and yarn.
      By: picsfive
      Knitting needles and yarn.
    • Yarn over button holes can be reinforced with embroidery floss.
      By: Andreja Donko
      Yarn over button holes can be reinforced with embroidery floss.