A Knitting Dictionary—The Letter H is part of a series of posts that will eventually make up the Complete Knitting Dictionary a comprehensive knitter’s resource!


A design term where pattern motifs are staggered vertically or horizontally. Usually, one motif or pattern repeat begins halfway through the previous motif or repeat (sort of like the pattern bricks make).


Another name for e-loop, or backwards loop cast on. It is also the part of the long-tail cast on that is formed on the thumb.


The light, fuzzy bits of yarn that surround a central core of spun yarn. Yarns that have a lot of natural halo are angora and mohair (which comes from the angora goat).

Yarns that are brushed have a greater halo than unbrushed yarns (where it is just the individual fibres escaping the plied yarn).

The fluff takes up a lot of extra room in between the stitches and usually is knit on much larger needles that would be expected.


Yarn that is dyed in small batches, by hand as opposed to dyed in a factory or mill setting by machine or with pre-dyed fibre (though the term may still apply if the fibre was hand-dyed before spinning).

Special care needs to be used when planning a hand-dyed yarn project to take into consideration pooling (the way colours fall as you knit up your project) and variations between hanks, even in yarns dyed in the same batch.

Hand-dyed can be done in many different ways. Here are some of the ways yarns can be hand-dyed. Often more than one of these methods is combined when dyeing a yarn.

  • dip-dyed yarn where yarn is dipped into a container of dye and allowed to soak up the dye on a portion of the hank.
  • gradient or ombre yarns have colours that gradually change along the length of the hanks.
  • hand-painted yarn, where the colour is applied to damp yarn with a brush or squeeze bottle,
  • immersion dyed where it looks very similar to basic commercially dyed yarns,
  • kettle dyeing (low-immersion) produces semi-solid or tonal yarns where the colour changes subtly throughout the hanks. Kettle dyeing can also be done with a variety of colours, resulting in variegated yarns that vary greatly from one hank to the next.
  • self-striping yarns require a lot of preparation before dyeing to create stripes of a given length.
  • speckled yarns has splashes or spots of colour splattered over the yarn, often on a background of one of the other kind of hand-dyed yarn

hand knit

Something that is knit by hand rather than by a machine.

hand wash

A care recommendation for a yarns.

Usually done in warm water with a mild detergent or soap. After a thorough soaking the fabric is gently washed to remove dirt and oils from the hands.

After washing, excess water is squeezed out (never wrung) and then the project is rolled in an absorbent towel to remove more moisture.  Then laid flat or pinned out until fully dry.


A coiled circle of yarn.

It is also sometimes, confusingly, called a skein.

Originally a hank was a fixed number of yards which differed based on the fibre. Linen hanks was often 300 yards (270 m) while a cotton or silk hank was 840 yards (770 m),

Now hanks are simply coiled yarn in a large circular shape that is usually twisted into the twisted hanks we love to buy at yarn stores.

Hanks are not meant to be knit from and the yarn should be would into a ball or cake before using to avoid a huge tangled mess.


A covering for the head that is closed at the top. Many hats have a brim or cuff and usually have a shaped crown (the circumference of the hat gets smaller towards the top of the head.

There are many shapes and styles of knit hat including balaclava, beanie, beret, billed, bonnet, brimmed, bucket, cloche, deerstalker, ear flap, newsboy, pillbox, pixie, stocking, tam, toque, watch cap, yarmulke.


The portion of a sock that covers the bottom and back of the wearer’s heel.  Extra fabric is usually added to socks to fit over this much wider portion of the foot.

There are many ways to create this extra space for a heel. The most common ways are a flap and gusset construction and a short row heel.

heel stitches

Heel stitch is a reinforced stitch that is often used on the heel of a
sock. It is a thick, cushy and strong.  Stitches are slipped on every
second (right side) row and worked across on the wrong side row.  There
are a number of different variations.

Heel Stitch

The slip stitches line up in a column.

Row 1: Edge stitch, *Sl 1, k1, repeat to last heel stitch, edge stitch.

Row 2: Edge stitch, p to last stitch, edge stitch.

Repeat rows 1 and 2.

Eye of Partridge Stitch

The slip stitches alternate to create small diamond shapes.

Row 1: Edge stitch, *sl 1, k1, repeat to last heel stitch, edge stitch.

Row 2: Edge stitch, p to last stitch, edge stitch.

Row 3: Edge stitch, k1, *sl 1, k1, repeat to last 2 heel stitches, sl 1,  edge stitch.

Row 4: Edge stitch, p to last stitch, edge stitch.

Repeat Rows 1 to 4.

Half Linen Stitch

The slip stitches alternate and the slipped stitch is worked with the yarn in front.

Row 1: Edge stitch, *sl 1 wyif, k1, repeat to last heel stitch, edge stitch.

Row 2: Edge stitch, p to last stitch, edge stitch.

Row 3: Edge stitch, k1, *sl 1 wyif, k1, repeat to last 2 heel stitches, sl 1 wyif,  edge stitch.

Row 4: Edge stitch, p to last stitch, edge stitch.

Repeat Rows 1 to 4.

helical knitting

(see helix knitting)

helix knitting

Helix knitting is a circular knitting technique used to knit very narrow spirals that appear like thin stripes on the sock.

With helix knitting, you avoid colour jogs as well as avoid carrying yarn as you work up the tube.

Different yarn colours or stitches are introduced at different places around the circumference of the tube.

While technically, you are creating single round spirals, helix knitting can imitate thicker stripes by using more than one ball of any colour.


The edge of a knitted piece of fabric, parallel to the rows of knitting.

Hems can be a single layer of fabric:

  • rolled hem (stockinette stitches that roll up naturally)
  • ribbed hem
  • or any other knitting stitch

Hems can also be two layers of fabric where the fabric is turned at the edge of the fabric. That turn can give various effects:

  • purl row hem – forms a crisp turn
  • picot hem – forms small crenellations or picots at the edge
  • rounded hem (no turning row) – gives a soft rounded hem edge.
  • bobble hem – forms fun bobbles at the edge of the fabric
  • (https://suziesparklesknitting.wordpress.com/2015/06/17/create-the-prefect-folded-picot-hems/)


A durable, inelastic plant fibre with lovely drape. It is mostly used for household items and bags, but also works well for garments, especially when mixed with other natural fibres.

Like linen, help softens with use and washing.

hen knitting

(aka Danish hen knitting, chicken knitting)

Introduced in the late 1960’s by Kirsten Hofstätter in her book “Hen Knitting” , it is a free form knitting style that uses up colourful bits of leftover yarn in stranded colourwork bands that are designed or personalized by the knitter. It encourages creativity and fun as well as being a great stash buster.

This topic is covered in the more recent, Knit Yourself In by Cecilie Kaurin & Linn Bryhn Jacobsen


Ways of holding your yarn or your needles.  This includes which hand you hold your yarn in, how you hold your yarn and how you hold your needles.

The term hold is also used in stitch manipulations such as cables and wrapped stitches where live stitches are placed on a cable needle and you hold them to the front of the work or the back of the work.


A form of brioche knitting.

hook beading

This method of beading a knitted project uses a hook (fine crochet hook or specialized beading hook) to add beads to individual stitches as you work. This is in contrast to stringing beads onto the yarn before knitting.

hooked needles

Knitting needles sometimes used in Portuguese and Peruvian knitting. They have a hook at one end and a regular knitting tip at the other. The hooked end is held in the right hand and is used to help pull the new stitch through the old stitch (which is on the smooth end of the needle in the left hand).

You can see a demonstration of using hooked needles in “How to Use Hooked Needles” by Andrea Wong.

heirloom knitting

A knitted project made with high quality material, design and knitting skill that is intended to be handed down through generations.

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