Nature eloquently utilizes hierarchical structures to form the world around us. Applying the hierarchical architecture paradigm to smart materials can provide a basis for a new genre of actuators which produce complex actuation motions. One promising example of cellular architecture - active knits - provides complex three-dimensional distributed actuation motions with expanded operational performance through a hierarchically organized structure. The hierarchical structure arranges a single fiber of active material, such as shape memory alloys (SMAs), into a cellular network of interlacing adjacent loops according to a knitting grid. This paper defines a four-level hierarchical classification of knit structures: the basic knit loop, knit patterns, grid patterns, and restructured grids. Each level of the hierarchy provides increased architectural complexity, resulting in expanded kinematic actuation motions of active knits. The range of kinematic actuation motions are displayed through experimental examples of different SMA active knits. The results from this paper illustrate and classify the ways in which each level of the hierarchical knit architecture leverages the performance of the base smart material to generate unique actuation motions, providing necessary insight to best exploit this new actuation paradigm.