How to Do a Yarn Over in Knitting

Learn how to do a yarn over in this knitting tutorial from Howcast.

I’m going to demonstrate how to make a yarn over. There are a couple of things you need to remember about a yarn over, which is that it is an increase, so if you don’t want your knitting to grow, after every increase you’re going to need a decrease. So I’ll show you what I mean.

In this pattern I’m alternating simple yarn overs. First, two stitches in and then six stitches in. So now I’m on a two stitches in row, so I’m going to slip one, knit two and now I’m ready to work a yarn over. I want to insert a hole here, because a yarn over is just basically a hole.

To do that I’m going to bring the yarn in front of the needles, coming from between the tips, and then back over again to the back. When I stick my needle in to knit the next stitch I’ll automatically be bringing that yarn over the needle, because in order to knit a stitch the yarn has to wrap around from behind.

Now however, before I knit that next stitch, remember that a yarn over is an increase, and so I’m going to immediately need to go into a decrease here. That doesn’t happen in every pattern, but in this yarn over pattern, it does.

So I’ve brought yarn to the front, I’m going to stick my needle through both stitches making a knit two together decrease and then bring the yarn around and knit once stitch. So here you can see on the needles I’ve got the yarn floating over the needle here, which is going to make a hole, but it’s not complete until I’ve purled it on the back, because these yarn overs are happening on stockinette sample.

So now I’m going to knit six, one, two, three, four, five, six and insert my next yarn over, which should line up directly with that one, from the last row where I did two and then six. There it is. So yarn comes to the front, between the needle tips, I’m going to do a knit two together and yarn comes over the needle to knit that stitch.

Here we see it again. There’s the yarn over, there’s the decrease. Let’s do it one more time. One, two, three, four, five, six, oh good, it lines up with the one below, yarn over, knit two together and finish the row. So on the back we’re going to be purling every stitch, because this is stockinette, but we also need to purl that yarn over.

It’s going to look and feel a little different than the normal stitches, because I’m doing a slip stitch edge, I’m going to slip my first stitch and I’m going to purl across normally, until I get to my first yarn over, and there it is just sitting there on the needle. If I take it off, you can see that it’s just a big hole.

But I don’t want to take it off, I want to purl it. So it’s going to feel a little funky, but insert the needle as if to purl, just like it was a stitch, and there you go. Let’s do it again. I’m going to purl six, we’re going to get over to our yarn over. Here’s purling on knit two together. Here we are again at our yarn over.

You can see it’s just a yarn draped over a needle tip, insert as if to purl, bring the yarn around, scoop up a new loop from that really loose hole, and now you’ve purled your yarn over. So on the front now we should get to see what our yarn overs actually look like.

Yarn overs don’t really show up perfectly until you’ve worked the row above a purl. If you’re making yarn overs in the round, you would never do the back. Now I can see the nice little row of holes that I just made in this sample. And here is what yarn overs look like in a lace pattern.

In this shawl that I knit, you can see all those wonderful stacks of holes which are there on purpose and in pattern. Those are yarn overs in their natural habitat. And that is how to make a simple yarn over with a knit two together directly afterwards.