So you want to knit 6: Decreases

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It’s time to increase your knitting skill repertoire once more. 😀 This time, we are talking about decreases. We have gone over basic knit and purl stitches, and have talked about increases, but now we should move to decreases. That will give you the tools you need to be able to make hats, or lace things. After this post, we will be able to focus more on just enhancing skills. Like anything, most of your skills will grow with just good ole practice. I really hope that this has helped you increase your basic knitting knowledge. One of the complaints I have heard from so many people, is that they feel that the ‘fancy’ knitting projects are out of their grasp. That knitting is a very guarded skill. I have found that with many things, if you know how to do it, it is regarded as some special club that only the select are part of. I strongly disagree, and feel that if someone wants to do something, we should all be able to sit here and let them know that we are here to help them grow. With this series of posts that I have done on how to knit, I want to make sure that you understand that none of this is out of your reach. I will be continuing these posts to explain how to knit various things. I already have a series out on how to knit socks, but that assumes a level of knowledge on how to either knit in the round in some manner. So far, these how to knit posts have not looked at this. I will probably look at how to specifically knit in the round and flat in the next post. It’s important that you are able to get even what many would consider the most basic information, because unless you already know something, it’s not basic. Beginner is not a term that should be shunned. Everyone was a beginner at something before they practiced and improved. Another important thing, is that you should never regard yourself as a lower class knitter because of your materials. I have been designing patterns and making lacework and other knitting things for years, and I still greatly value acrylic yarn. So many knitters will turn their nose down at it, but it’s not the hard plastic yarn of the 80’s. Besides, not all of us can afford yarn that is $20-30 for a single skein. That is why I love to tout Knit Picks yarn. I can get sock yarn for a much lower price than other places, and it’s still fantastic yarn. You need to be able to work within your means! Okay, now that I have gone through all of this, it’s time to move on to the actual learning portion of this post. 😀

Decreases are used to reduce the number of stitches you have on your needles. This could be for the toe of a sock, the crown (top) of a hat, or to work a lace pattern. The great thing is that once you know how to do a particular decrease, it is the same regardless of what your project is. I’m not going to go into every single kind of decrease, because there are many variations of a stitch. For example, I will go through the stitches called “knit 2 together” or “purl 2 together”, but there are variations where you might knit or purl 3 or 4 together. They are worked identically, just with more stitches. Once you know how to do one, you can work on how to do them all. 😀 Decreases also have leans to them. So you will find, as I go along, I will tell you which way the stitch will lean (and have photos, of course), which is needed for the detail of the decrease. It directs how the knitting piece will lay down. I’ll get into that more as I describe each stitch.

First up, will be the knitting decreases. These tend to be the most used stitches. That is because if you are knitting in the round, you are always knitting, but also when you work lace, many patterns will have the decreases on the knit (right side) side only. So, these will be very advantageous to have in your skill box. One of the common things I will say during the decrease instructions is slipping a stitch as if to knit, or as if to purl. So, I will put those two pictures here, so you can refer back to them, but I didn’t want to clutter up the instructions coming up with too many extra pictures.

Knit 2 together (k2tog): Knitting 2 together is exactly as it sounds. Slip your right needle into the two stitches on your left needle, and knit them as normal. Then slip both stitches off the left needle. This creates a single stitch, where there was once two. This gives you a stitch that will lean to the right. It is used on the left hand side of socks and hats, because when you look at the toe or the top of the hat, the left side of your toes or hat leans to the right. It helps to give it a smooth line of stitches.

Slip, slip, knit (ssk): Slip the first stitch on to the right needle, as if you were knitting it. Slip the next stitch on to the right needle, as if you were knitting it. Slip your left needle into those two stitches that were moved to the right needle, and yarn over to knit them together. Once again, this gives you one stitch, where there used to be two. The SSK will lean to the left. This get used a lot on the right hand side of socks and hats, because it helps direct that line of decreases to the left.

Slip 1, Knit 1, pass the slipped stitch over (S1, K1, Psso): This stitch sounds complicated, but it’s really just a blend of the first two. This stitch can be used quite often in place of the ssk, because many feel that it creates a neater stitch that will lean left. To work the stitch, slip the first stitch on your left needle, as if you were knitting it, knit the next stitch on your left needle, then insert your needle into the slipped stitch that is sitting on your right needle (it will be the second stitch from the end), and lift it up and over the first stitch that is on your right needle. Drop that stitch. This will decrease a single stitch.

Slip 1, Knit 2 together, pass the slipped stitch over (S1, K2tog, Psso): This stitch is a variation of the one above, but is used for different reasons, which is why I wanted to explain it. To work it, you slip the first stitch of your left needle onto the right needle, as if to knit. Then knit the next two stitches together. Pick up and lift the second needle on the right needle (the stitch you slipped), and pull it over the first stitch and drop it. This stitch will decrease two stitches. The counterpart to this stitch will be the Knit 3 together (k3tog), which will also decrease two stitches at once, and leans in the opposite direction. It’s the same method as the K2tog, so I’m not going to get into the how to’s on this one. I just wanted to make sure you knew what the opposite leaning version of this stitch is.

Central Double Decrease (CDD): This stitch is used very often when you want a decrease that does not lean in any direction. For example, when working a lace pattern where there are k2tog’s and ssk’s that come together in a bit of a point, the CDD is great at bringing them together to accentuate that point. It’s also used quite often when knitting a sweater neckline, particularly when you have a V neck sweater and want the neckline to keep that neat little V. To work this stitch, you will slip the next two stitches from your left needle, at the same time, as if to knit, on to your right needle. Knit the next stitch. Slip those two slipped stitches that are sitting as stitch 2 and 3 on your right needle, over the first stitch and let them drop. This creates a stitch that looks like a fatter little knit stitch. It keeps that knit stitch look, with no lean.

Now we’ll move on to the purl stitches. You will find that the language is very similar, and the main change is just moving from knitting the stitches to purling the stitches.

Purl 2 together (p2tog): Slip your right needle into the two stitches on your left needle, and purl them together. This creates a single stitch out of two.

Slip, slip, purl (ssp): slip the next two stitches on your left needle to your right needle, as if you were going to knit them. Slip your left needle into those two stitches that are now sitting on your right needle, and purl. This creates one stitch where there used to be two.

Slip 1, purl 1, pass the slipped stitch over (S1, P1, Psso): Slip the first stitch on your left needle to the right needle, as if to knit. Purl the next stitch. Pick up and lift the slipped stitch (2nd stitch on your right needle) over the first stitch on your right needle. This creates a similar stitch to the SSP, but many use it before they prefer the way that this stitch lays compared to the SSP.

As I mentioned above, there are fewer “common” purl decreases. There are other purl decreases, but they are not used often enough to showcase them here. If you are working on a project that lists a different stitch than these, please remember that a quick search online will provide a wealth of video instruction to help walk you through them. I recommend bookmarking ones you like, because you may not use them often enough to remember where you found them. I’ve been there many times, and have kicked myself because I could not remember the search string I used to discover my favorite videos.

We’ll be slowly increasing in difficulty as these posts progress, to learn how things work apart from just the stitches. If you ever have a question, or if I have not described something well enough, please send me a message. I want to do everything I can to help you in your knitting journey.

So you want to knit 5: Increases

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Oh Increases. They always make people a bit scared. They seem so daunting! But, they make so many things possible in your knitting. It allows you to shape items, like hats or sweaters. It allows you to knit lace. It allows you to add a bit of movement and texture. They are very important and very versatile. In general they are easy to do, but there are so many ways to do them, that it can become overwhelming. Let’s walk through your main options.

Before I begin, I want to give you some clarification on some terms I will be using. I will be saying “front of your work” and “back of your work” a lot. This is not actually in reference to a particular side of your work. This is simply a reference to the side of your work that is either closest to your body, or farthest from your body. As you hold your piece up, you will always have one side that is facing directly towards you. This is the front. At the same time, you will have a side facing away from you. This is the back. However, as soon as you turn your work to do your next row, the side now facing you is your new front. This is simply a directional thing. When we name an actual side of the work, we always use the term right side and wrong side. Those terms will define a side and are never changing. These new terms are just to give you a way to keep your bearings on where your yarn is going to be placed.

Yarn over
I am going to start off with increases. When you do increases, you have the option of leaving holes in your work, or not. Leaving holes in your work is how you can create that airy look of lace knitting. That is typically done with what is called a Yarn Over (usually abbreviated as YO). This is simply an action of moving the yarn around your needle, to wrap it. Then you will knit or purl it when you come back around to it in your next row or round. As with anything in knitting, everyone has their own preference of how to do it. I am going to show you the way that I do it, but if you want to see other options, simply head over to You.Tube and you will be able to search for ‘how to do a yarn over in knitting’. That should give you a bajillion results. 😀

My preferred way of doing a yarn over, is I move my yarn to the opposite side of where I want to be, and then work the next stitch as it would normally be worked. For example, if I am going to be knitting the next stitch, I will move my yarn to the front of my work (towards my body). Then I will insert my right needle into my left stitch to knit, as I normally would. As you can see in the picture, the yarn is sticking out towards the front, sitting under the needle when you go to knit the next stitch.

To work the stitch, the yarn will go over the needle from the front of your work, up and over towards the back, and then wrap around the needle. You then pull your stitch through. The yarn will now be on the back of the work, where it would normally be when knitting.

You are now left with the stitch you just worked, plus an extra loop of yarn just hanging out on top of your needle.

If your next stitch is a purl, it works very similarly. Move your yarn from the front of your work to the back (away from your body).

You will then insert your right needle into the next stitch as you would to purl any other stitch. As you purl this stitch, the yarn is going to look like it’s just sitting in behind the needle. But, when you pull your stitch through, you want to give just a bit of a wiggle of the yarn, and you will get a yarn over the sits on the top of the needle from the back to the front, and then you will have your purl stitch.

The Yarn over stitch has an added component, compared to the other increases. When you work your next row or round, you now need to deal with this extra bit of yarn hanging out. The other increases all just create a new stitch, and you’re done with them. But, this one needs one more step. The beauty of doing the yarn over as I have it written, you can just work the loop as you normally would. For example, if you are knitting, you will just insert your needle into the loop as normal and knit.

KFB and PFB
Next up, let’s talk about the Bar Increase. You will often see this written in abbreviated form as a KFB or PFB. KFB stands for Knit Front and Back. And the PFB stands for Purl Front and Back. This increase is made by working two times into a single stitch. Let’s start with the KFB.

To begin, you will work the next stitch as you normally would knit a stitch. However, you do not drop the stitch that is on your left needle.

Slip your needle back into that left stitch, by going through the back of the stitch, and then wrap your yarn as if to knit.

You can now drop the stitch from your left needle. There are two stitches where there was once one. As you can see, one of those new stitches has a bar across it, which resembles the purl stitch. This is what gives it the Bar Increase name. This is a great increase for making a more hidden increase with no holes. It keeps your knitting tight and compact and very neat.

M1R and M1L

Another option for an increase is the Make 1 Right (M1R) and Make 1 Left (M1L). This creates a twisted stitch that will twist either to the right or to the left. I use this a lot in sweaters when I am knitting from the neck down. It gives the look of an angled set of stitches, and is a nice detail. This does potentially leave a bit of a hole in your work, but it’s not as drastic of a hole as the Yarn over creates.

To do the M1R and M1L stitches, you are going to be pulling up yarn from the row you just worked. If you separate your stitches a bit, you will see that there is a strand of yarn between each stitch just sitting there.

To Make 1 Right (which is a twist that goes to the right), slip your left needle under that bar of yarn from the back of your work to the front of your work.

This loop of yarn now sits on your left needle, and you will slip your needle in just like you would to knit a regular stitch. This will twist the yarn to the right and give you a more solid stitch compared to the yarn over.

You now have a new stitch that is nestled into your work, and is twisted to the right.

To Make 1 Left (which is a twist that goes to the left), slip your left needle under that bar of yarn from the front of your work to the back.

In order to get the twist in this stitch you are going to knit through the back loop. Using your right needle, slip it into the loop of the stitch that is towards the back of your work. Normally you would go into the front, but this time, you will be going through that back loop. Wrap your yarn around your needle, and pull the new loop through.

You now have a new stitch that is twisted to the left.

Those are all the main increases that I am going to cover for now. They are all the main ones that you will see most often. I hope this helps to add some more stitches to your resume, and will allow you to expand the patterns that you look at. I will be doing a post on decreases very soon, but quite often, when you have a yarn over, you are going to have a decrease with that to create your lace motif. When you are working lace, it is quite common that you don’t want to actually increase your stitch count, but you just want to make a nice detail. Be on the lookout for the next post, which will be coming soon!

New Products!

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Today I launched another key chain. This one is a Mini Rosary and is available in two colors: Pink and Blue. I have to say that after a lot of trouble getting beads I like, I fell in love with the blue. The blue beads I ordered never arrived, so I had to find something else. These were sitting upstairs just waiting to become these key chains. 😀

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Also! On the design front, the test for the Scarf of Many Colors is wrapping up and that pattern will be launched in the next couple days. So, keep your eyes peeled for that one. 😀

I also have a new sock design that is in progress. I’m hoping to get this finished soon because I have a couple pairs of socks to make for a donation, and those will take priority when the yarn arrives for them. But, either way, these socks will be heading off for testing in the next month or so. I am really liking how they are turning out. 😀 Right now I am going back and forth on the heel color. I think I might do green for the heel, since the toes are grey. I think that will make a nice statement.

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And speaking of socks, I am hoping to get the third installment on How to Knit Socks up in the next few days.