Knitting patterns have all kinds of crazy abbreviations, and if you're not familiar with them it can really slow down your knitting.
Wyif and wyib are two abbreviations that often confuse beginner knitters, but these abbreviations are way simpler than you think! In fact, they just involve one quick motion that helps you position your working yarn. Here's a closer look at each one.
Wyif = with yarn in front
Wyif just means that you place your yarn in front of your work before you take the next step in the pattern. Wyif is often combined with instructions for slipping a stitch.
The actual motion is super easy. Just grab the working yarn and pull it in front of the needle and in front of your work.
Usually when you complete a wyif, you've been previously working with the yarn in the back of the work. Maybe you've been knitting, for example, which requires the yarn to be in the back.
You'll also see wyif as part of instructions for slipping stitches. A pattern might say, for example: Slip st wyif.
That just means that you bring the working yarn to the front of the work before you slip the stitch, therefore crossing the working yarn in front of that slipped stitch.
If you slip the stitches wyif on the right side, the result looks something like this on the front (right side) of the work. See those little horizontal bars running across the row? That's the result of the yarn being held in front, then transferring a slipped stitch to the other needle. That wyif gives the stitch a little hug!
The general rule for slipping stitches is that you always slip with the yarn in back (wyib) unless otherwise noted, so you'll see wyif often for an extra little embellishment in a pattern.
Wyib = with yarn in back
You've probably already guessed that wyib is just the opposite of wyif: Bring your yarn to the back of the work before you take the next step in the pattern.
Like wyif, the motion for wyib is easy. Grab the working yarn and pull it to the back of the needle and to the back of your work.
Usually when you complete a wyib, you've been previously working with the yarn in the front of the work. Maybe you've been purling, for example, which requires the yarn to be in the front.
You'll also see wyib as part of instructions for slipping stitches. A pattern might say, for example: Slip st wyib.
That just means that you bring the working yarn to the back of the work before you slip the stitch, therefore crossing the working yarn behind that slipped stitch.
The result looks something like this on the front (right side) of the work. Slipping a stitch wyib is hardly noticeable. The only sign of a slipped stitch is a stitch that takes up two rows, and since the yarn is in the back when you slip the stitch, you don't even see any kind of crossover.
You're likely often using wyib without even realizing it. When a pattern tells you to slip a stitch, for example, you should slip the stitch wyib unless the pattern says otherwise. Because slipping a stitch wyib is the usual way to do it, patterns often won't specify "wyib."
Where you'll find wyif & wyib
Any time you're slipping stitches, you'll probably run into one of these abbreviations. Here are just a few situations when you might need to be familiar with wyif and wyib:
Mosaic colorwork is a super easy colorwork technique that uses wyif and wyib when slipping stitches to change colors. For example, the Windowpane Sock (pictured above) from Lucy Neatby's free Knit-Along 2016: Socks class uses wyib to create the cool design you see here.
Decorative stitches like linen stitch use a combination of wyif and wyib.
I-cord edgings, especially edging on the sides, uses slipped stitches to roll in the edges for a neat finish. Wyib and wyif can both be used to neaten sloppy edges , especially for stockinette stitch.
Thanks to a rather long, complicated-looking abbreviation, wyif and wyib look much more difficult than they actually are. Just remember that they're there to tell you where to hold your working yarn.