Slipping a stitch - what's the RIGHT way?

jennOctober 27, 2007

Whenever I need to learn a new stitch and it's not shown in my book, I turn to the trusty internet.

One stitch that still confounds me (and there are many I still haven't learned) is the simple slip stitch. Some videos/explanations say to slip it perl wise, others say to slip knit wise. In some cases, they say to slip knit-wise if you are going to knit the next stitch, and to slip perl-wise if you are going to perl the next stitch.

WHICH IS IT??? I enjoy the flexibility of knitting (vs. quilting in which your seams must be EXACTLY as instructed or else the world will explode) but I'd like to learn the correct method and what each stitch instruction really means.

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I was always told to slip the stitch purlwise unless otherwise stated. That way, on the next row, the stitch is correctly orientated to work.

~ Kit

    Bookmark   October 27, 2007 at 4:01PM
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I agree with Ironkit. Slip purlwise unless instructed otherwise.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2007 at 4:29PM
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Me, too. I sl purlwise unless the instructions say otherwise. If there's introductory words/instructions to the pattern, it pays to read them -- sometimes things are written there that aren't written in the pattern itself. But generally, if it doesn't say, you can't go wrong with sl purlwise.

Having said that, I'd also suggest trying it both ways on a swatch if you aren't sure. It really boils down to what looks best to you.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2007 at 7:45PM
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When you slip a stitch purlwise, the orientation remains the same. It's usually done when you don't work the stitch right away. When a stitch is slipped knitwise, it's orientaion is changed. It's usually done on decreases, like slip-slip-knit. The stitch is slipped then worked right away. Do the slipping according to instructions because they can affect the look of the sitches.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2007 at 12:48PM
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Thanks everyone. What about when the instructions say to slip (without saying knit or perl-wise), knit, then pass the slipped stitch over but first knit into the back of it? It is worked right away, rather than on the next row.

I was starting the famous "my so-called scarf" and this is how the instructions were stated. I was coming along beautifully until I knitted a whole row into the front of that stitch instead of the back, and when I was ripping out the row a stitch slipped off before I could get it back onto the left needle, and I couldn't figure out the correct orientation for it so I had to rip out all my work. It was only a couple of inches, but beautiful. It's not an easy project for a beginning knitter, but very do-able just the same.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2007 at 9:58PM
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Here are some very detailed instructions, as well as pictures, of "my so-called scarf" - it looks like a beautiful pattern.

Here is a link that might be useful: My so-called scarf

    Bookmark   October 31, 2007 at 11:15AM
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Jenn, that's been on my to do list for over a year, but living in CA, it always seems to take a back seat to other projects. But I still hope to give it a try "someday".

    Bookmark   October 31, 2007 at 1:57PM
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There's a video on YouTube which shoes you how to do the stitch for this scarf. It looks to me like the knitter is slipping the stitch purlwise (although out of habit, I'd probably do it knitwise). She also shows another way of doing this stitch: slip 1, knit 1, yarnover, pass the slipped stitch over both the knit stitch and the YO. Try it both ways and see what you like. This looks like a pattern from one of the Barbara Walker Treasuries called Little Herringbone which is usually used to make a thick fabric for jackets and such.

Here is a link that might be useful: So-called scarf video

    Bookmark   October 31, 2007 at 4:22PM
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ct iris: I don't see anything there that says which slip to make, knit or perl. Maybe I missed it but I read it twice. Did you see it?

Donna I live in SoCal and I wear scarves every winter. I wear them in the very early morning when I leave for work, and at night, or if we go to the snow. I get a lot of use out of them every winter. But, I tend to feel a chill in the air on warm days in the 70s, so what do I know, LOL!

threejsmom, that's a very helpful video. I might try the second method instead. It does make a very thick item, the density of it reminded me of knit jackets I've seen. Beautiful, but not a mindless no-brainer which is what I prefer right now until I get more skilled at this.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2007 at 10:43PM
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Jenn, for what it's worth, I was reading in a Barbara Walker knitting stitch treasury last night, and she mentioned that stitches should "always be slipped knitwise" unless the pattern indicated otherwise. Since she's one of the stitch pattern gurus, I consider her recommendations worth noting. I may have to revise my "general rule" of slipping now :) although I'll probably always try it both ways if I'm not sure, just to see which I like best.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2007 at 5:38PM
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Thanks Carol, that's good to know. This creates a new concern: Does the pattern-maker know that??? If not, then the outcome will not be the same.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2007 at 12:38PM
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Like I said, if I'm not sure I'd try it both ways -- one will look more like the pattern than the other, assuming there's a decent picture. Otherwise, I'd go with whatever looks best to me! That's one of the joys of knitting -- you can always do what looks best to you. (As an example, I'm making a leaf lace scarf, but I didn't like the way the edge was coming out, even though I did it as the pattern said. I changed it just slightly -- slipping the outermost stitch at the beginning of each row -- and to me it looks better).

    Bookmark   November 4, 2007 at 3:51PM
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Carol, I agree. I was mostly just wondering about how would a beginner know without digging deeper and asking questions or exhaustively searching the internet. I agree with your statement about doing what's best for you in knitting.... so many stitches, stitch combinations, patterns, projects, and ways to do them.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2007 at 4:48PM
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I checked my Barbara Walker Treasuries (the first and second) and in the glossaries at the beginning she says to slip the stitch "as if to purl" unless instructed otherwise. Not to be contrary, but slipping stitches one way or the other does make a difference in how a slipped stitch pattern or decrease will look. Slipping knitwise will twist a stitch. Then again, whether you want it to look as the designer intended is up to you.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2007 at 3:52PM
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Interesting. It wasn't in the glossary that I found her instructions -- it was in the text at the beginning of one of her chapters (first treasury). I don't remember which one but it was probably lace. Guess she contradicted herself in the same book -- I'll have to look for that later!

Most of the time I'm sure I'd go with the designer's intent
but the look that the knitter likes is what counts in the long run. I think the problem is the designer doesn't always state what to do, and it's a small thing if you're an experienced knitter, but for those with less experience, it's helpful to have the small things spelled out. At least I know I appreciate it!

    Bookmark   November 7, 2007 at 5:29PM
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Carol - me too! As I am learning to knit, I want to learn everything the correct or standard way, and then I will deviate from that later if I choose to do so. Today I was reading a page about making socks and the writer pooh-poohed the traditional instructions and provided her own, but didn't say why. WHY is her way better than the traditional method?

If I were to learn a new language, I'd want to learn the correct way to speak in that language before I learn the slang.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2007 at 10:01PM
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I borrowed Barbara Walker's Learn-to-Knit Afghan Book from the library. In there, she says:

The right needle is always inserted into the stitch(es) from behind, as if to purl or purlwise, unless directions specify as if to knit or knitwise.....

As threejsmom said, the orientation remains the same. Another way of saying that is that the right side of the loop is in front, which is the correct stitch orientation.

I get it now! It would be fun to try either way, as Carol Ann suggests, and see which looks best. Either way would make a nice pattern whether or not it's the same as the designer's.

BTW, I wholeheartedly recommend this book. It teaches basic knit and purl, mosaic, cable, slip-stitch, twist-stitch, increase/decrease, and lace patterns while making 63 different afghan squares, each one building on the skills learned while making the previous blocks. The book also includes a stitch glossary that explains all the stitches used in the book. At the end she explains how to block and join them into an afghan. If you are like me and like to have smaller projects to finish in shorter time, and you still have a lot to learn about knitting, this seems like an essential book for your library.

Here is a link that might be useful: Learn-to-Knit Afghan Book

    Bookmark   November 10, 2007 at 12:09PM
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