The grammar of knitting

Before I was a college-dropout, I was a linguistics major and find great delight in regional variations in language.  While making flash cards for one of English students, I realized that the past tense of knit can either be knit or knitted.

I was wondering if you good people would indulge me and reply back whether you "knit a scarf yesterday" or if you "knitted a scarf yesterday" and where you're from.

Here's how I conjugate it in the past tense:

I knit a scarf yesterday.
You knit a scarf yesterday.
He/She knitted a scarf yesterday.
We knitted scarves yesterday.
They knit scarves yesterday.

There's no real rhyme or reason to it, just a speech pattern.  Who knows how my brain decided that... I'm from New Orleans and we're not exactly known for our consistent grammar.

Billbear's picture

I grew up in FL on the westcoast, coastal not inland.  I think I use "knitted" across the board for past tense.

Gabriel's picture

Well, here in Okieville.....we have always used "knitted." I have heard one or two people use "knit" in the past tense and I thought they were incorrect. Shows you what I know!!!! Happy Thanksgiving YA'LL!


venneman's picture

I am going to go against the grain & say "knit" is the past tense of "knit," but as it turns out, we're all right. "Knit" is an irregular verb, meaning the form you use in the past tense is determined by how you use it. "I knit that scarf." "We knitted all night." For a usable explanation, check out this web site:

Scroll down to irregular verbs.

For an explanation on past participles, check

Sorry, I'm a grammar geek/journalist. This is what I do.

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Knit away, knit awa

 I use both & I'm from England. Make what you want out of that!

"They say best men are moulded out of faults; and, for the most, become much more the better for being a little bad." William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

ChazH's picture

I'm indigenous to Indiana, and I have always said "knitted" when talking strictly about the past. Like Gabriel, I thought that people who say "knit" in most cases were speaking like the hillbillies where I come from (e.g., "I just give 'im $20 yesterdy, and he done spent it all on booze."). I'm glad to know more about this.  It reminds me of the 'lent' vs. 'loaned' confusion with which I struggled for years.

I'm from NJ, lived longer in New York and now live in Oakland, CA. I had to think about it a little then when I read venneman's post I realized I use both. Happy Turkey Day!

JPaul's picture

More specifically (or less, actually) an irregular verb is any verb that doesn't follow the normal conjugation patterns (in english, the -ed ending for past tense, like call vs. called).  There are lots of irregular verbs that are conjugated the same in the simple past and in the past participle ("Hit", for instance, or "Bring"), regardless of usage.  Knit and knitted are both correct for the simple past and for the past participle.  I rarely use knitted, or at least I try not to.  ( I also try not to end my sentences with "to" but, like knitted, sometimes is just sounds right.)

Elad Fox's picture

I live on the North Coast of California and I believe that I always use "knit", never "knitted". I'm not sure 100% on that though. I may have slipped a "knitted" in there a time or two.


We don't receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us.
Marcel Proust (1871 - 1922)

They are two different words with the same root.

I'm from England and Cnyttan is the Old Endlish word meaning 'to join or tie together' and Middle English uses 'Knytt' to mean to join with a knot . We use this today when saying that  broken bones have  'knit together'.

Knit means to join, mend, repair and Knitted refers to the craft. 

ulf's picture

My schoolenglish grammar definitely say knitted.

drmel94's picture

I never really thought about it before, which is a little odd considering my language obsession. I almost always say 'knit', though. 'Knitted' to me just sounds, well, not quite right - kind of like when clients tell me their pet's been 'spayded'.

"Hatred does not end by hatred; hatred ends by love. This is the eternal law." - Buddha

Thomasknits's picture

I wanted to renew this topic.
I find it incredibly interesting, and if I had enough time in college, I'd add a linguistics major.
I used the two words in free variation... both sound equally correct.
To answer the conjugation, what I say most readily is:
I knit yesterday
You knit yesterday
He knitted yesterday
We knit yesterday
Y'all knit yesterday
They knit yesterday

I/you/he/we/y'all/they has/have knit before.

A family is tightly-knit. A scarf was tightly knit or tightly knitted.


Thomasknits's picture

BTW I forgot to say that I'm from Georgia. And fyi, my mom says she says knitted for all past tense and past participle forms of knit.


Darrel's picture

Well, you know Southern boys do it right :)

Thomasknits's picture

Yes, we do :-)


RickeScott's picture

FFrom Nebraska and I knitted yesterday. So did you and he/she/it and we and they. I knit yesterday sounds strange to my ear.

MMario's picture

Cape Codder born and bred, (though now upstate NY) and "knit" for virtually all past tense; especially if talking about creating an object. It might be "knitted" if in the abstract.

MMario - I'm not divorced from reality - we're having a trial separation