Sunday Stitch – 4 Ways to Make a Yarn Over in Knitting


If you’re a continental style knitter, the title on this post probably has your scratching your head. That’s cuz it’s not for you, lol. This is for those who knit English style.  If your holding the working yarn in your right hand and “throwing” it for each stitch, then not all yarn overs are the same.

Nupp Berries and Lace Leaves – a motif with all four types

 4 Ways to Make A Yarn Over in English Style Knitting

First a bit of rambling explanation. I learned to knit English style and then taught myself continental. If you are like me, started out English and are wondering if its worth it to learn a whole new way to knit, the answer is oh very much yes. Its worth feeling klutzy and living through the “drop your needles every 30 seconds” phase again. Continental is faster. Once you get good at it, stranded colorwork will be a breeze because you can hold a color in each hand. In continental all the yarn overs are the same no matter what. And continental knitting is faster. I know I already said that but its worth repeating. There are fast English style knitters out there, but for most of us, going continental will speed up the knitting.

But I was English-only when I started. I was English when I tried my first piece of lace. I was completely unprepared for the fact that yarn overs are different if they happened before a purl or after a purl. Previous to that I had assumed yarn overs were yarn overs. The realization that this was

untrue and….

no one had ever mentioned it and….

it was not explained in my pattern and ….

it was not explained in any of the books I owned*

left me feeling betrayed. The world of knitting had been keeping secrets from me and I didn’t like it. AT ALL. I might have cussed. I might have stomped around like a gorilla. I might have pointed out this injustice to every single knitter I knew.

So now its a thing for me. All these years later I’m still very aware of how yarn overs are made. I make a point of discussing the 4 different types of yarn overs in my knitting classes. I guess I just don’t want anyone else to get stuck in their first lace pattern the way I did. And yes, I’m still holding a bit of a grudge.

So here they are, all the four situations that will dictate how to make the yarn over:

  • knit, yarn over, knit
  • purl, yarn over, purl
  • knit, yarn over, purl
  • purl, yarn over, knit

If you want to make a practice sampler like the one I’m working with in the video, here is how

Cast On 28 stitches

knit 2 rows

Row 1 (the one shown in the video): k2, [k, YO, k2] twice, [p, YO, p2] twice, [k, YO, p2] twice, [p YO, k2] twice, k2   —- will have 36 stitches

Row 2: k2, [p2tog, p, k] twice, [k2tog, k, p] twice, [k2tog, k2] twice, [p2tog, p2] twice, k2  —- will have 28 stitches

Repeat rows 1 & 2.

*It wasn’t in any book I owned at the time. I later found this topic covered in detail in The Principles of Knitting, a must-have-book for a geek knitter such as myself. Its the most comprehensive knitting resource I’ve found. June Hiatt (the author) knows absolutely everything about knitting.

Print Friendly

Related Content


"There is no failure. Only feedback." - Robert Allen

9 Comments on "Sunday Stitch – 4 Ways to Make a Yarn Over in Knitting"

Notify of
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted

Your videos are so much better than my pictures! Nice to see someone else going over the different yarn overs 🙂


Thanks, lol. I’m getting better on the video making but it has a long way to go.

Glad there is someone else out there who thinks deep thoughts about yarn overs!


Thank you so much! I had no idea there were different yarn overs for different situations! I haven’t tried lace yet.
I have tried Continental and I will most likely try it again. I don’t just drop my needles and stitches my tension gets wonky, yuck.
Thanks again!


You are very welcome!

If you give continental another try… maybe start with a hat. A roll brim hat that is just knit around and around and around. That will give plenty of practice and hats are pretty forgiving of wonky tension. 🙂


I need to try continental again as well! I often wish I could knit faster, but I think my “throwing” is as fast as it will ever get.


I never knew there were more than one type of yarn-over! So far, all the lace I’ve done has been k, yo, k … now, if I encounter it any other way, I’ll know what I’m doing. Thanks so much 🙂


Happy to help!


Thank you for this post! I feel so much smarter. I suddenly developed a passion for lace knitting and took a class a couple years ago. The instructor meticulously went over the different types of yarnovers but never mentioned it only pertained to English knitters. I’ve always knitted Continental and thought I was misunderstanding something. With one sentence you cleared my confusion!