When I first met my husband, he had no idea what knitting was about
but he still wanted to try to impress me. So one of the first times we hung out he asked me to teach him to knit. This was a failed endeavor from the start, but he valiantly tried for a few minutes before finally looking at me and saying "I'll be honest with you, I don't understand any of this."
You too may have this reaction when talking to the knitter in your life, but fear not. Here are five terms to keep in your back pocket next time you want to get on her good side.
No, your knitter is not going to have to go on the lamb for anything illegal, she just has yarn (or fiber, but that's a completely different list). If she's anything like most knitters I know, she has more yarn than she can use right now. It's completely normal and means she is prepared for when the world ends and suddenly she is queen of your dystopian village because she had the forethought to stockpile this vital supply. This excess yarn is called her "stash". Like people, stashes come in all sizes, colors, and genetic material. No matter your views on how this stash may be taking over your knitter's life, you must respect it. Even if she's at SABLE (Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy). Respect the stash.
2) Cast On
Casting on is how a knitter puts yarn onto the needles. The number and method varies according to pattern, so don't be surprised if you one day hear your knitter complain about a certain sadistic designer who must be insane if they think that a three hundred stitch long tail cast on is appropriate (not that I speak from experience). Casting on is related to Castonitis, which is a condition that causes an uncontrollable need in knitters to cast on all the things.
Once your knitter has cast on she has a WIP (Work In Progress). WIPs, pronounced as a word, can fall into a variety of categories. If you see your knitter working away furiously on a project, she has an “active WIP”. A knitter can have any number of active WIPs at one time and only she can decide when a project may move from active status to hibernation. A WIP that is hibernating is one that your knitter may fully intend to work on but just isn’t feeling at the moment. This can happen for a variety of reasons. There could be an error that needs to be fixed, it’s too hot to work on a giant wooly garment, or your knitter has just fallen out of love in response to something shiny.
When a project is completed it is called an F.O. (eff-oh). Like a WIP, your knitter has full discretion when determining if an object is completed. The most obvious indicator that your knitter has a “Finished Object” is that it is no longer on the needles. Your knitter may also talk about having a “HO” (Half Object), a more recent term that is usually reserved for items that come in pairs. A HO indicates that your knitter has finished one item in a pair, such as a single sock or a lone mitten.
After a WIP becomes an FO your knitter will probably “block” the item. This is a process that involves washing the item, either in the washer or by hand, and then laying it out to dry. By doing this, the knitter gives the yarn a chance to open up after being wound into the original ball. If your knitter has completed a lace project she may have to pin it out to show the full pattern, so keep in mind that some items look like giant cobwebs until they are given a chance to block.
There are many more, but these should get you started. The best thing you can do is smile and ask for clarification when you don't understand. And if you have any questions feel free to ask in the comments below. Who knows, we might just make a knitter out of you yet.