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How to Make a Knitted Yarn Over

A yarn over (abbreviated yo) makes an extra stitch on your needle and creates a deliberate little hole in your fabric. Yarn overs are an indispensable part of lace knitting. They have a multitude of other applications, as well, such as decorative increases, buttonholes, and novelty stitch patterns.

To make a yarn over, you simply bring the knitting yarn (the “over” strand) over the needle between two existing stitches on one row, and then work that strand as a stitch when you work your way back to it in the next row.

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Until you get used to them, yarn overs can be a little confusing. Remember these tips:

  • The working yarn starts in front of the needle. Sometimes it’s already there (if you’ve been purling); sometimes you have to put it there deliberately (if you’ve been knitting).

  • You wrap the yarn around the needle from front to back and work the next stitch as normal. Sometimes, the pattern instructions ask you to wrap the yarn twice — or more times — around the needle to make a bigger hole.

  • While you work the row following the yarn over row, a big hole suddenly appears on your needle where a stitch should be. Above the hole is the strand of yarn that you’ve crossed over the needle. Think of the strand as a stitch and knit or purl it as you normally would.

  • You have 1 extra stitch for every yarn over you do. For example, if you start with 4 stitches and then knit 2, yarn over, knit 2, on the next row you’ll have 5 stitches instead of 4.

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