Decreasing: How-to mirror in Knit & Purl


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Decreases are used in shaping, to create buttonholes and in the texture of lace knits (where they are usually paired with yarn-overs). As such they are a staple of the beginner knitter’s arsenal. It is important to consider the visual effect you are trying to achieve when choosing a decrease. They can slope left over right, right over left or both sides in front or behind a middle stitch (double decrease). This tutorial covers K2tog, SSK, SKPO and their purled equivalents as well as demonstrating some of the varied effects that can be produced by working before or after a yarn-over (yo). Double decreases and greater are covered in another tutorial.

Knit two together – K2tog

– decreases row by one stitch, slopes to the right

With yarn at the back, pass over 1st left hand (LH) stitch (st) and place right hand (RH) needle through both 2nd and 1st st together (from left-to-right and front-to-back as with a single knit st). Wrap yarn clockwise around RH needle tip as usual. Pull new loop from back to front through both st together and slip them off the LH needle.

K2tog every alternate row 2st from LH edge

Slip Slip Knit – SSK

– decreases row by one stitch, slopes to left

With yarn at the back, place RH needle in 1st st on LH needle from left-to-right and front-to-back as if to knit. Slip 1st st off LH needle and onto right-hand. Repeat with the 2nd st. Slip LH needle back through 2nd and then 1st st (now on RH needle) from left-to-right and front-to-back. Wrap yarn clockwise around RH needle tip as usual. Pull new loop from back to front through both st together and slip them off the LH needle.

SSK every alternate row 2st from RH edge

Slip 1, Knit 1, Pass Slipped Stitch Over (psso) – SKPO

– decreases row by one stitch and slopes to left as with SSK but with an appearance more as of a cast-off stitch

Slip the first st knitwise as above. Knit the 2nd st from the LH needle. Using the tip of the LH needle pass over the st just knit and place into slipped st from left-to-right and front-to-back as if to knit. Pick up the slipped st (2nd on the RH needle) with the LH needle (through from the front as if to knit it) and cast it off over the st just knit.

SKPO every alternate row 2st in from RH edge

NB. If your front stitch is twisted go back and check – did you slip the first st purl-wise instead of knit-wise?

Purl two together – P2tog

– decreases row by one stitch, no visible difference on the purl-side, slopes to the right on the knit-side

With yarn at the front, place right hand needle through both the 1st and 2nd st on the LH needle from right-to-left and back-to-front (as with a single purl). Wrap yarn anti-clockwise around RH needle tip as usual. Pull loop from back to front through both st together and drop them off the LH needle.

P2tog every alternate WS row 2st from RH edge as seen on the RS

Slip Slip Purl through the back loop – SSP

– decreases row by one stitch, no visible difference on the purl-side, slopes to the left on the knit-side (a straight P2togtbl would result in a twisted st on the knit side and is used when such an effect is desired)

With yarn at the back, place RH needle in 1st st on LH needle from left-to-right and front-to-back as if to knit. Slip 1st st off LH needle and onto right-hand. Repeat steps 1-2 on 2nd st. Slip LH needle back through 2nd and then 1st st (now on RH needle) from left-to-right and front-to-back. Remove RH needle and pass behind the 1st st. Place RH needle through both the 2nd and 1st st in that order from back-to-front and left-to-right (as with purl through the back loop). Wrap yarn clockwise around RH needle tip as usual. Pull new loop from front to back through both st together and slip them off the LH needle.

SSP on every alternate WS row 2st from LH edge as seen from the RS

Purl 1, slip back, pass next stitch over

– decreases row by one stitch, no visible difference on the purl-side, slopes to the left with similar cast-off appearance as the SKPO on the knit-side (a straight SPPO results in a right sloping single decrease but with a twisted front st and can be used if this effect is desired).

Purl the 1st st as usual. Pass the st just worked back onto the LH needle ensuring the legs remain positioned left at the back and right at the front. Pick up the 2nd st on the LH needle with the RH needle by placing it into the st purl-wise (from back-to-front and right-to-left). Pass the 2nd st over the 1st st as if casting it off. Slip the 1st st onto the RH needle again ensuring the legs remain positioned correctly.

SPPO on every alternate WS row as seen from the RS

Using decreases to produce a lace pattern

The range of lace patterns that can be produced by combining a decrease either immediately or remotely with a yarn over (yo) is limitless. Here are just a few examples with charts and instructions;

SSK YO

Click to view chart

Odd rows: SSK yo K1
Even rows: Purl all stitches

YO K2tog

Click to view chart

Odd rows: K1 yo K2tog

Even rows: Purl all stitches

K2TOG YO K1 YO SSK

Click to view chart

Odd rows: K1 K2tog yo K1 yo SSK K1

Even rows: Purl all stitches

Diagonals

Click to view chart

/ = K2tog

O= YO

\ = SSK

All else knit on the RS/ Purl on the WS

Fancy Lace

Click to view chart

/ = K2tog

\ = SSK

O = YO

^\ = Sl st K2tog PSSO (covered in Double Decreases and Beyond)

I = Purl on the RS/ Knit on the WS

All else knit on the RS/ purl on the RS

Photo’s and text copyright © onehandknits (Anna Richardson) 2011. Not for redistribution.

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Möbius Scarves: Mastering the Cast-On


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A Möbius scarf is a continuous loop of material, in this case knitting, with one 180 degree twist in it so that the inside becomes the outside in a geometric display of infinity. Although the initial cast-on seems complex, once learnt it is an addictive process that will resolve all your winter gift conundrums.

  1. Make a slip knot (SK)
  2. Slide SK to a point half-way along the circular needles. 100-120cm are best length to use.
  3. Bring needles round to form a double loop with points in opposition, level with the SK.
  4. Hold the yarn tail in your right hand (RH) with needle A and the working yarn in your left hand (LH) with needle B. Hold LH away from the needle wire so that a triangle is formed between your hand, the yarn and the cable.
  5. Move needle A under the cable.
  6. Catch the yarn from above and behind with needle A to pull a loop of yarn under the cable – this is the first cast-on loop.
  7. Now catch a second loop from the yarn above the cable – you now have two loops on the needle and two on the cable (one is the SK). For the purposes of counting the cast-on rate you will only count those on the needle.
  8. Cast-on to desired number by repeating steps 5-7. Experiment with the number of stitches cast-on to get a Möbius of your desired length.
  9. When you have your chosen number of stitches lay the double loop of stitches flat on a table and spread the stitches out evenly.
  10. Feeling with your fingers through the stitches, ensure that the cables remain in parallel, like train tracks, from needle B until you reach needle A.
  11. Allow needle A to cross under or over the cable just once to create the twist. Place marker on needle A.
  12. Holding the yarn taught, knit each stitch on needle B (at this point it does not matter if you knit into the front or the back loop).To make the join tight I find it helpful to cast-on one more stitch than the pattern recommends, slip this extra stitch from needle A onto needle B and then knit together (K2tog) the first two stitches.
  13. Be careful not to let your stitches slip over each other, otherwise you will knit them out of turn.
  14. You will pass the marker once and continue around the second ring of the loop before coming to the end of round one. You should knit through the front loop on every stitch now unless otherwise directed by the pattern.
  15. Continue in pattern until scarf reaches desired thickness. A very simple pattern would be to knit two rows, purl two rows and repeat.
  16. Cast-off loosely and tie in start and finish yarn tails.

Photo’s and text copyright ©onehandknits (Anna Richardson) 2010. Not for redistribution.

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Turkish Cast On: A variation on the provisional


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The Turkish Cast-On is an invisible cast on, similar in principle to the provisional cast-on (described in Casting-On 2), that forms a closed end/ pouch/ toe or the centre of a square/ rectangle depending on the choice and position of any increases made thereafter. It is perfect for things like toe-up socks, mittens, glove fingers, purses and slipper/ bootee bases. It uses two sets of circular needles of the same diameter (length is not important but longer than 50cm makes for easier working). Knitter’s familiar with the magic loop technique can use one set of long needles.

  1. On needle A (in this case the bamboo) make a slip knot (SK).
  2. Hold needle B (metal for clarity) parallel above needle A with both points facing in the same direction and the working yarn held behind.
  3. Working from left to right wrap the yarn loosely around both needles until you have half the desired number of cast-on stitches set by the pattern.
  4. Pull the bottom needle through the stitches so that they sit on the cable. You can ignore this needle for now.
  5. Bring the empty metal needle up to knit from the cast-on stitches on needle B.

    The first row worked as knit st

  6. Once you have completed knitting all the stitches on needle B turn the work though 180 degrees so that needle A is now on top.
  7. Slide the unknit stitches from the cable onto needle A and the knit stitches back onto the cable of needle B.
  8. Slide SK off the needle and undo, allowing the waste yarn to hang free. Bring the working yarn up from the last stitch on needle B and keep taught.
  9. Using the empty bamboo needle, knit from the top set as before. This completes one round.

    Round 1 completed

  10. Pull needle A through, as before, so that the new stitches sit on the cable and the needles hangs free. Turn through 180 degrees.
  11. Slide the stiches from the second cable to the tip of needle B and begin round 2.
  12. Repeat from step 6, alternating needles with each half row. Without any increases a seamless rectangular pocket will form.
  13. For socks: increase in the first and last stitch on each needle causing the sides to spread diagonally (or in a gradual curve by putting a greater number of rows each time between the increase rows).
  14. To make a rectangle/ square: Knit 1 row round. Increase in 1st st with DPN1. Change to DPN2, increase in 2nd st then K to  within 2st of end of needle B and incr in the nxt st.  Change to DPN3, increase in last st of needle B and 1st st of needle A.  Change to DPN4, increase in nxt st then K to within 2st of end of needle A.  Change to DPN5 and incr ease in last st – the change of round now sits in the middle of one side of the square/ rectangle (best marked with stitch marker).  Subsequent increases are worked in the first and last st of every DPN i.e. the ‘corner’ stitches.

Photo’s and text copyright ©onehandknits (Anna Richardson) 2010. Not for redistribution.

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