Being a knitting geek, knitting techniques fascinate me to no end. In particular, I'm always on the look-out for new ways of doing a stretchy bind-off or a left-leaning decrease. In this blog post I'll show you a way to do a SSK or slip, slip, knit decrease... without actually slipping anything!
I've written about left-leaning decreases a couple of times before. In 2019 I compared 7 different ways of doing a left-leaning decrease and wrote that my favorite method is Elizabeth Zimmermann's SSKi or SSK improved.
Whereas in a regular SSK decrease you slip two stitches knitwise, one at a time, in SSKi you slip the first stitch knitwise and the second one purlwise before knitting the two stitches together through the back loops. This little change in stitch orientation supposedly makes the decrease lie flatter and therefore be more invisible.
In 2021 I demonstrated a smoother way of doing SSK, SSSK, and CDD decreases. In a smoother SSK you only slip the first stitch knitwise, then return it back to the holding needle in its new orientation before knitting two stitches together through the back loops. The reasoning here is that each time you manipulate a stitch, you also risk stretching it, thereby making the resulting decrease more obvious.
No-slip SSK takes things a step further: it eliminates the need to slip any stitches. It's structurally the same as an SSKi or a smoother SSK with the added benefit of reducing the amount you have to pull and manipulate the stitches. And the fewer movements you have to make, the faster your knitting will be.
In a sense the name is an oxymoron, a contradiction of itself, since you're not actually doing the SS part of SSK. Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer calls this technique a no-slip, no-remount method for making a left-leaning decrease but that doesn't exactly roll off the tongue.
I'll settle for no-slip SSK for now. Whatever the name, here's how it goes.
Step 1. Start the same way as you'd do any SSK variant: insert the working needle into the first stitch knitwise, that is, as if you're about to knit it (without actually knitting it).
Step 2. With the needle tip still inserted into the front leg, reach behind the back leg of the same stitch.
Step 3. Insert the needle into the second stitch purlwise. Poke the needle tip to the back of the work so that you're catching the back leg of the stitch.
Step 4. You've now grabbed the front leg of the first stitch and the back leg of the second stitch with the working needle. Knit these two loops together like in a regular SSK decrease. Drop both stitches off the holding needle.
Didn't quite catch that? Here's the same in video.
This decrease is a bit awkward to execute at first… but so is any new thing you're learning. Make sure you pull the working yarn only through these two loops – the back leg of the first stitch can get in the way! I also find the no-slip SSK a bit tricky to work in fuzzy yarns because the needle tip can sometimes get caught in the halo. Perhaps something to keep in mind if you're working with mohair.
Is the no-slip SSK flatter? More invisible? Faster to knit? The jury still out on that. But it's an alternative way of making a left-leaning decrease that you might find useful, especially if you tend to accidentally drop stitches when doing a regular SSK.
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