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How to Knit a Yarn Over in Just 4 Simple Steps

Learning to knit a yarn over is a great tool to have in your knitting bag of tricks. This stitch is an easy way to make an increase or, add lace detail, or when paired with a decrease, a buttonhole. 

What is a yarn over?

When making a yarn over you are adding a new stitch while making an intentional hole in your fabric. If you are working yarn over increases along a raglan line in a sweater, this will give you a nice lacy line along the raglan. The hole they create will generally be a bit bigger than the needle you are using. 

When do you use a yarn over?

Yarn overs can be done as increase in anything! Sweaters, shawls, even socks, yarn overs can go anywhere you’d like to place a hole or when creating a lacy fabric.

How to knit a yarn over

Step 1:

Start by knitting to where you’d like to place the yarn over. (I placed my yarn overs every 3 stitches.)

Step 2:

Bring the yarn forward. (Note: Because we are working in stockinette stitch, our yarn is in the back).

Step 3:

Wrap the yarn around the needle.

Wrapping yarn around a needle for a yarn over

Step 4:

Knit into the next stitch. (I did a knit 2 together (k2tog) for this swatch so as not to increase my stitches.)

Knitting a Yarn Over

Continue working the yarn overs wherever the pattern indicates.

On the wrong side

Since we are working this swatch in stockinette, we will purl the stitches on the wrong side. When you come to a yarn over, just purl into that as you normally would. 

How to knit a yarn over

Here we have worked a row of 4 yarn overs.
 Swatch of knitting

Now that you’ve seen how easy a yarn over is to create a new feature in your knitting, check out these patterns that would make great lacy coverups for summer.

textured shle sock yarn

Photo via Craftsy member TreasureGoddess

Textured Shale Sock Yarn Scarf

Garter stitch and yarn overs are paired to create this simple scarf with a lot of impact. There is no purling in this pattern so it’s perfect for beginners! It also uses only 400 yards of sock yarn, a great way to use up that special skein of sock yarn we all have in our stash. 

Get the Textured Shale Sock Yarn Scarf pattern >>

beach cape

Photo via Craftsy member Two of Wands

Beach Cape

Knit with a worsted weight cotton blend on extra large needles, this lacy cape will be knit just in time for your next beach vacation. A basic shape along with some basic knit stitches, this would make a great project for an adventurous beginner.

Get the Beach Cape pattern >>


Photo via Craftsy member andrea_knits

Firefly July

For a more adventurous pattern, this lightweight pullover features mesh done with two yarn overs together with deep neckline shaping. Knit with a fingering weight yarn, this makes a light and airy pullover for chilly summer nights. 

Get the Firefly July pattern >>

I especially like using yarn overs to make a quick and easy buttonhole. What projects have you used yarn overs in? Explore more of the basics with the Craftsy class Knit Lab with Stefanie Japel.

Learn Fundamental Skills Every New Knitter Should Know!

essential skills for beginning knitters class

Take your knits to the next level with different cast-ons, basic stitch patterns and more in the online class Learn to Knit: Essential Skills for Beginning Knitters.Enroll Now »


Patricia Morrish

Well thanks for the information but unfortunately the photos do not show the exact problem that I have doing yarn overs. When you say bring the yarn to the front– yep get that and the photo shows that. Then you say to wrap it around the needle, but the photo (#3) only shows the yarn brought forward. So, what exactly do you mean when you say to wrap it around the needle? A video would’ve been better.

Pat Desjardins

I agree. What happens if we are knitting garter stitch? Show us how to do a “yarn over ‘ in purl. I agree also that a video would be a better learning tool.

Mary Sangster

Hello!! I used to have the same problem, until I realized if the yarn is brought to the front, when you make the next knit stitch, the yarn automatically wraps the needle,creating the yarn over. The yarn over…ie: the yarn drapes over the top of the needle… I hope this helps… Try it . It is not difficult…you will have your “ahha” like I did………………………m


And this method uses less yarn than the more traditional method


Thanks for your comment about the easy way to do ‘yarn over’ when knitting; I still haven’t figured out how to do it when purling, let alone when the pattern calls for switching back and forth, but it’s great to have at least this part making sense!

Carol Benner

When you bring the yarn forward and you are continuing to knit the yarn goes over the top of the needle so it is in the back again so you can continue to knit.

Candace Frey

I, also, want to know how to do a yarn-over on the purl side. Thank you for any help you can give.


How do I work these YOs while needing to change from K to P and P to K stitches as in this example:

Row 2 (WS): K3, sm1 yo, p until marker, yo, sm2, k3. (2 sts increased)

Any help would be much appreciated please.


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