You'd think that leaving a hole in your knitting is the absolute last thing you'd want to do. But actually, that's exactly what a yarn over is — an intentional hole in the middle of all kinds of beautiful knitting to create a lace pattern or an eyelet.
Even if you've made a yarn over by mistake, we're going to teach you how to do it for reals and show you some of the many things a yarn over can do when you're knitting a shawl, hat or scarf.
How to Make the Yarn Over
There are two types of yarn overs: one for knitting and another for purling. We're going to focus on the yarn over for knitting.
1. Knit up to the point where you'd like the hole to appear. If you're using a pattern, it'll tell you where the yarn over goes.
2. Wrap the yarn around the right-hand needle from front to back.
3. Hold on to that yarn as you insert your needle into the next stitch. Then keep knitting. And yes, you've created an extra stitch.
What the Yarn Over Does
1. Increases a Stitch
We already saw that yarn overs create an extra stitch on your needle. Creating an extra stitch, of course, is a way to make an increase . If you're knitting a shawl, making yarn overs in the center gives the shawl its triangular shape if you increase two stitches in the center on each right-side row.
2. Creates a Gorgeous Design
Yarn overs are responsible for those decorative edges on a shawl or sweater. They're a staple in lace knitting, too. Sometimes in lace knitting there are lots of yarn overs in each row, more for decoration than for increases. If they're just decorative, yarn overs are followed by a SSK (slip, slip, knit) or K2tog (knit two together).
The little holes in the hat above are yarn overs, and they're super simple to knit in the round.
Ready to start making some "mistakes" on purpose?