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Ask Amanda: What does wyif mean?

Laplante Detail

Some knitting abbreviations seem pretty straightforward, like how K stands for “knit” and P stands for “purl,” but when multiple letters get involved, sometimes things get murky. Some of the leading offenders? Knitting terms like wyif and its equally sneaky cousin, wyib. To make matters worse, even after a knitter has deciphered what these terms stand for, putting them into practice can be confusing. We are here to help!

Let’s start with what they stand for:

wyif = with yarn in front

wyib = with yarn in back

At their most basic level, both of these terms are actually pretty easy to decipher – all they really refer to is the position of your working yarn in relation to your knitting. When you’re getting ready to work a purl stitch, you make sure that you’re holding the yarn in front, and when you’re going to knit a stitch, you make sure that the yarn is being held to the back. With these instructions, you’re being directed to put your yarn in front (as if to knit) or back (as if to purl), but you’re not necessarily going to be working a knit or purl stitch at that point. It only refers to the position of the yarn, not the next action.

wyif and wyib

What often leads to confusion is what happens in your pattern directly before or after you’re asked to move your yarn to the front or back. In our patterns, we often pair wyif with slipped stitches, which is often abbreviated along the lines of “slip wyif.” With a direction like this, you would hold the yarn to the front of the work and slip the next stitch (see my post about slipped stitches for a refresher). The result would be a slipped stitch with the yarn strand running across the front of it (see below), which can be a nice decorative element or part of a fancy pattern stitch.

sl wyif

For an example in a pattern, take a look at the unusual textural stripes on Laplante, a tank top from our spring collection:

Laplante

That stitch pattern uses a combination of stitches slipped both wyif and wyib, alternated with normal knit and purl stitches. The result is an interesting textured stripe that almost resembles embroidery. It’s a perfect project for practicing your wyif and wyib skills!

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. sylvia #

    I”m get confused when the purl side is facing me. Does the f mean the right side of the work and b, the back of the work. Or does f mean any side that is facing me and b mean any work means back if it is facing away from me. In which case in some patterns the purl side is facing me when the pattern says WYIF .(I’m knitting a pattern stitch called netted pattern)..

    Also the pattern tells me to leave the yarn in front on the pearl row.

    January 31, 2014
    • emilyoneil #

      That is confusing! WYIF means that no matter what side is facing you, you are slipping a stitch with your yarn facing you. WYIB means that no matter what side is facing you, you are slipping a stitch with the yarn on the opposite side of you.

      February 3, 2014
      • Sylvia #

        THANK YOU SO MUCH. :-) :-)

        February 4, 2014
  2. thank you so much for your help now i undestand how this works have a wonderfull day

    March 25, 2014
    • emilyoneil #

      Yay! I’m glad it helped.

      March 25, 2014

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