Sabine has been knitting with our wool for many years. Here she writes about her personal knitting experiences, her tips, ideas and knitting inspirations, exploring interesting questions and topics.

About KALs, WIPs and UFOs - the secret language of the knitting community

About KALs, WIPs and UFOs - the secret language of the knitting community

All I need for knitting is my yarn, a few needles and a cosy spot. In theory. In reality, however, a large part of my favourite hobby also takes place on the screen. I read blog articles or newsletters, check out what the knitting world is up to on Instagram and Ravelry and get inspired on Pinterest. In this context, it happened again and again that I came across strange expressions that I couldn't comprehend at first.

Over time, I have learned to understand the language of the knitting community and now know what is hidden behind the most common terms and acronyms: they are mostly English phrases and their abbreviations, which are even self-explanatory in their full form. So what at first seemed like a secret language to me (especially as a German) turned out to be not that difficult - like so many things once you know them. Here is a list of terms that the international knitting community uses. Who knows, maybe you are new to knitting and will find an expression you didn't know yet.

OTN - on the needles

All knits that are currently in progress and therefore occupy needles.

WIP - work in progress

A piece of knitting that is currently being knitted. It is possible to have several WIPs at the same time, although only one knitting piece can be worked on at a time x. The decisive factor is that the knitting pieces are currently in progress and that the ongoing projects are not forgotten, but that the aim is to complete them. If this is no longer the case, the WIP becomes a UFO.

PHD - project half done

Definitely self-explanatory. Now go for the second half!

FO - finished object

Describes the finished knitted piece and thus stands in contrast to the UFO.

Topview: A knitted headband in the colour Melange Terra on a table, next to it a bouquet of flowers and a small paper on which the abbreviation FO is written

UFO - unfinished object

This term can be misleading because it is not used for all those knits that have not been finished yet because they are still on the needles (OTN) and actively in progress (WIP). But for those that have not been finished for weeks, months or years - and for which it looks as if they never will be. Because they weren't fun, ran out of yarn or another knit was started. Or for no reason at all. Quite simply, UFOs are unnoticed or forgotten projects that often lie at the bottom of the knitting basket or in the back of the wardrobe.

URO/UO - un-recognised object

And so it can happen that the unfinished knitted piece (UFO) becomes a URO/UO. Namely, when it has lain unnoticed in a corner for so long that when it is found again, it is no longer even clear what was to become of it. How sad! But maybe the old instructions will turn up again - then the unrecognised object (URO) could become an active knitting project again (WIP) and maybe even be finished after all (FO).

SSS - Second Sock Syndrome

While it's a lot of fun to knit the first sock - after all, the colour gradient or pattern is still new and exciting - the second one often works up a little slower. Sometimes you just don't have the motivation to knit the exact same piece again. So it can happen that another project is started first, and the second sock is postponed until later. As long as the single sock is still alone in the basket, it is a typical case of UFO.
The S in Sock could also stand for the sleeve - because some people find knitting the second sleeve tough and boring too... they like to go on a trip to Sleeve Island.

Sleeve Island

Sleeve Island is an imaginary place where all those who don't feel like knitting the second sleeve of a jumper or jacket seek refuge. They give themselves and the knitted piece a little break. Let's hope that they will bring back new motivation and joy from their holiday on Sleeve Island to continue knitting!

TAAT - two at a time

This abbreviation refers to the practice of knitting two identical pieces at the same time. These can be socks or sleeves, for example. Maybe a good idea for all those knitters who suffer from Second Sock Syndrome or like to rest on Sleeve Island.

DPN - double-pointed needles

This refers to the needles of a needle set for sock knitting.

KAL - knit-along

A virtual event in which everyone knits the same design in a set period of time, linked by online exchange via social media. Such a KAL is usually organised by designers, bloggers or yarn manufacturers who set a hashtag for this purpose, e.g. on Facebook, Ravelry or on their own website. The central aspect is to enjoy working on a design together, even when you are not in the same place. A start date is set, and rarely an end date because the focus is on having fun, not on time pressure. All those interested receive information about the material in advance, although sometimes the instructions are not published until the starting signal.

Mystery KAL

A special variation of the KAL is the Mystery KAL, where participants do not know in advance which design they will be knitting. Apart from the necessary details about needles and yarn, the most that is known before the start is that it will be a shawl or a certain technique. The instructions are published piece by piece, and the mystery on the needles gradually takes shape. Just the thing for those who like to be surprised.

CAL - crochet-along

The same principle as KAL, but for the crochet community.

LYS - local yarn shop

The yarn shop around the corner: your favourite local shop where you buy what you need for your handicrafts. It's always good to shop locally!


If you regularly buy more than you can knit or crochet in the aforementioned LYS, you'll eventually have an incredible amount of skeins and balls at home - a huge yarn stash.

Topview: Balls of yarn in a box, next to them some skeins, all slightly blurred. Focused, a hand holding a small piece of paper with the word stash handwritten on it


When the stash runs out of space, it's time to use it up. Luckily, there are plenty of tutorials for single-strand projects or scraps that can be used to slowly but surely reduce your yarn stash.


If you read the word knit backwards, you get TINK. And it means exactly that: knitting backwards. We all know it - we knit and knit, and suddenly we see that we've made a mistake in the row before last. So it's time to undo what you've knitted, stitch by stitch, right down to the flaw so that you can then fix it. So TINK is the careful, slow process of unravelling.


If the flaw is far back, or your knitting doesn't live up to your expectations, there's only one thing to do: pull out the needles and frog! Since rip it, rip it sounds almost exactly like the ribbit, ribbit of English-speaking frogs, the term frogging for the ribbing process makes total sense. For us Germans, this is not at all comprehensible at first because here, the frogs go quak quak. ;-)

A knitted piece in dark blue, some unravelled yarn coming from it; in between the yarn a terracotta frog and a small piece of paper with the word frogging handwritten on it


With lace, knitting backwards is much more complicated than with plain knitted fabric. That's why it's advisable to pull in a safety thread into the work so that - if corrections are necessary - no stitches are lost. This saving thread is called a lifeline.

Have fun knitting - and talking shop about it.