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 narrow tube knitted “in the round” on two two double pointed needles.
The term comes from Elizabeth Zimmermann who called it idiot cord, but I prefer to think of the I as standing for ingenious.
It is usually 3 to 4 stitches around and is knit as follows:

  • Knit across the stitches,
  • Slide the stitches other end of the working needle,
  • Move the working needle into the left hand
  • Move the working yarn to the right of the stitches.
  • Repeat.

If you cannot slide the stitches to the other end, you can slip them all to the left needle.

illusion knitting

(aka shadow knitting)

A technique usually done in two row stripes of two contrasting colours and only using knits and purls. The completed fabric looks like simple two colour stripes  when viewed from straight on. When viewed from an angle close to horizontal, the purl bumps of the pattern stand up against the flat knit stitches of the surrounding stitches, creating a relief design

in the round

Joining or working a piece of fabric as a tube.

Every round (comparable to a row in flat knitting) is a right side round and the whole fabric is worked as a very shallow spiral. The last stitch of one round being immediately beside the first stitch of the next round.

Can be knit with a circular needle or double pointed needles.

inactive stitches

Stitches that have not been worked, are on hold and are not currently being worked. For example, the stitches that you are not worked when doing short rows.


This is the opposite of elasticity.

There are two types of inelasticity: yarn inelasticity and pattern inelasticity

Yarn Inelasticity

Yarn elasticity is dependent on the fibre  and construction of the yarn

Cotton, bamboo, silk and other plant fibres often are very inelastic. The have little give and when they stretch out, they don’t tend to spring backinto shape.

Wool generally has a lot of elasticity and springs back when stretched.

Pattern Inelasticity

This refers to the inelasticity of the stitch pattern (or cast on/bind off). 

Rib fabrics have a lot of elasticity, they can stretch and bounce back. Linen stitch has a lot of inelasticity. It does not stretch easily.


Stitches added to the knit fabric on the needle. Increases can be used to increase the width of the fabric or can be paired with decreases to create stitch patterns  (such as lace).


A technique where yarn in laid into the knitting without being knit into the fabric. The decorative yarn is essentially woven in and out between the stitches to anchor it into the work.


A piece of usually lace (eyelet based) fabric to be inserted in between two other sections of fabric.


(aka wrong side, private side)

The side of the fabric meant to be on the inside of a project, and hence not seen

Contrast with outside


A colourwork technique where sections of colour appear on the fabric, giving an inlaid appearance (like inlaid wood). It results in a single layer of fabric without strands of other colours going behind.

Each section of colour has its own ball or bobbin and the yarns need to be interlocked or twisted together when switching from one colour to another to maintain the integrity of the fabric.

It is easiest to work intarsia flat (back and forth) but there are ways  of adapting it to working in the round.

integrated border/edging

A border or edging that is knit at the same time as the main fabric. Usually border stitches are worked, then the main fabric and then the border stitches on the other edge of the fabric.

This is as opposed to an applied border which is knit after the fabric is finished (though it may be added to live stitches, casting them off as you work the border).


The twisting of two colours of yarn. This can be done deliberately to secure them and prevent holes from appearing when changing colours mid-row, as with intarsia. It can also occur when crossing yarns as in when changing colours in double knitting.


Any of a number of techniques that achieve a change in the fabric very subtly. They serve their function, but do it very unobtrusively. They are not really invisible, but close. There are invisible increases, decreases, cast ons, bind offs, joins and seams for example. 

This entry was posted in Knitting Dictionary, and tagged dictionary.

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