Uncovering The SSK Knitting Technique | The Knitting Librarian

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The SSK knitting technique can be confusing. Find out why.

ssk knitting

You see this knitting abbreviation frequently in knitting patterns and instructions. It is a technique to make a left-slanting decrease. It reduces two stitches to one. And it is commonly used for shaping, binding off or to create lace patterns.

Why Bother with the SSK Knitting Technique?

When I first started knitting, I did not really care which technique I use to do decreases. I learnt k2tog first and it was easy to remember, so I use K2tog for all my decreases. It was alright for a while until I started working on lace projects. The lace patterns did not turn up as nice when I replace the SKPO or SSK with K2tog.

I want my lace projects to look good so I know it is time to learn more techniques if I really want my knitting to improve.

When I was researching the SSK knitting technique on the Internet, I discovered that the description and instructions differ slightly with different knitters.

The common things that knitters say about SSK are:

  1. It is a one-stitch decrease
  2. It produces a left-slanting decrease
  3. It is the mirror image of knit 2 stitches together (abbreviated as k2tog), which makes a right-slanting decrease.

From here, variations start to pop up.

I think I finally figured out why after some additional research work.

How to Slip Slip Knit (Original)

SSK knitting instruction is written as follows:

  1. Slip the first stitch as if to knit
  2. Slip the second stitch as if to knit
  3. Knit these two stitches together through the back loop  

Problem with the SSK Knitting Technique

Although SSK and K2tog are supposed to be mirror stitches, k2tog always seems neater and tidier than the SSK. Apparently, many knitters are unhappy with the way it looks.

Suzanne Bryan, in the video below, discussed why it is so. According to her, the yarn unravels slightly or untwist slightly when it is slipped from left to right needle knitwise. This creates an “untidy” decrease compared to the K2tog.

She then offers a few tips on how to knit tidier SSK.

One of the suggestions is to slip the second stitch purlwise rather than knitwise. So an SSK knitting technique can be written like this:

  1. Slip the first stitch as if to knit
  2. Slip the second stitch as if to purl
  3. Knit these two stitches together through the back loop

Susanne said that if you are going to be slipping the second stitch purlwise, you might as well not slip it. So the instructions would be:

  1. Slip the first stitch as if to knit
  2. Slip the first stitch back to the left needle
  3. Knit two stitches together through the back loop

What do you think? Confusing right?

I have a tight tension, so I think I stick with the original instruction.

Is SSK the same as SKPO?

SKPO stands for Slip Knit Pass Over. Some knitters (including Suzanne Bryan) say that SKPO is the same as SSK and that it produces a neater and slimmer left-slanting decrease.

I have always knit my left-slanting decreases using SKPO, I did not know that the SSK knitting technique is not the same as SKPO until I saw the video by Hands on Knitting Center.

She shows the difference between the two quite clearly. Fast forward to 5.05m where she starts discussing them. The first part of the video is more on demonstrating how to do K2tog and SSK using both the Continental and English styles.

Although both reduces two stitches to one, they do look different.

I am really happy with my discovery of the SSK knitting technique. I am not going to mix SSK and SKPO up anymore.