How to knit 3 together (k3tog)

A step by step tutorial on how to knit three stitches together and three alternatives to achieve a center double-decrease or left- and right-leaning variations.

Most beginner patterns only require you to decrease by one stitch. Either by knitting two together or doing an SSK. But advanced lace patterns often require you to decrease faster. So, now you are probably wondering how to knit 3 together, right?

A close-up of a swatch decreased with a standard k3tog on the left side
A swatch where I decreased with k3tog on the left side

Well, in this tutorial I’m going to show you exactly how to do that. As this is a really advanced decrease I’m also going to take a look at three alternative ways of knitting this it to achieve different effects.

Why? Well, because a k2tog is right-leaning and if you simply knit three instead of two stitches together, you will end up with a bigger right-leaning decrease. Sometimes that’s exactly what you want, but other times it may not.

A swatch where I decrease with k3tog (knit three together) on the left side
View of the swatch with k3tog decreases from above

So, let’s dive right into it!

Knit 3 together – Standard method

The easiest way to decrease by three stitches is by doing a regular knit stitch into three loops at the same time. So, if you already know how to k2tog, this will be super easy for you.

Step 1: Insert the right needle into the first three stitches on your left needle from left to right (if the stitches are a bit too tight, loosen them up one at a time with your right needle).

inserting the needle from left to right into three stitches at the same time to knit three together

Step 2: Wrap the yarn around your needle counter-clockwise (or just pick it up if you are a picker).

wrapping the yarn around needle counter-clockwise for the k3tog

Step 3: Pull through and drop the stitch off your left needle.

pulling the yarn through the three stitches to finish the k3tog

As I said before, this will result in a somewhat right-leaning decrease. The standard method will look a bit bunched. Sometimes, this can be the intended effect. Take a look at my traditional bavarian half-socks for example. Here I shape the bubble in the center of these lace leaves through k3togs.

K3tog centered /CDD

A swatch with the center double decrease - the centered alternative to the standard k3tog knitting stitch

If you want to knit three stitches together so the middle stitch is centered, then you have to employ a different technique. It’s often also called the center double decrease (CDD) but personally, I don’t really see it as a different technique.

Step 1: Slip two stitches knitwise (much like an SSK).

inserting the needle knitwise to slip two stitches for the cdd

Step 2: Knit one stitch.

knitting one more stitch for the cdd stitch

Step 3: Pass the two slipped stitches over (so a bit like a standard bind off).

passing the slipped stitch over the knit stitch for the center double decrease (cdd)

This can be a nice alternative for the center of shawls (in case you are knitting bottom-up) because for obvious reasons you don’t want the middle to lean either to the left or the right.

K3tog left-leaning

A swatch with the left-leaning k3tog alternative

By common agreement, SSK (and its variations) is the easiest and best looking left-leaning knitting decrease. In case you want to decrease three stitches with a left-slant, you have to follow these steps:

Step 1: Slip one knitwise.

slipping one stitch knitwise vor left-leaning version

Step 2: K2tog

knitting two stitches together after the slipped stitch for the left-leaning k3tog

Step 3: Pass the slipped stitch over.

passing the slipped stitch over to finisth the left-leaning k3tog

Like almost all left-leaning decreases, this one also has the problem of producing a very loose stitch. That’s because as you pass the last stitch over, you enlarge the loop but there is nothing to shorten the legs with the next stitch. So be extra careful when you slip the stitches.

K3tog right-leaning

A swatch with the more elaborate right-leaning version of the k3tog stitch

If you want to have a more pronounced right-leaning k3tog, then you need to adapt the instructions even further.

Step 1: Slip one knitwise.

slipping one stitch knitwise for the right-leaning version

Step 2: Knit one.

knitting one stitch after you slipped one

Step 3: Pass the first stitch over.

passing a stitch over the knit stitch for the right-slanting alternative

Step 4: Slip the stitch back to the left needle and pass next stitch over.

passing the last stitch over the first two two finish the right-leaning alternative

I couldn’t say I am a huge fan of this variation. I feel the standard method (which is also right-leaning) looks neater. Still, I didn’t want to keep this technique from you as I thought it was quite interesting.

Now, admittedly, all these differences are somewhat minor. But, if you have to repeat these decreases every two rows or so, the effect will stack and if you choose the wrong variations of the k3tog, then it will show.

Besides, I believe that slipping and passing over actually makes these alternative ways of knitting three stitches together a bit easier. Sometimes – especially if you are a tight knitter and working with small needles – it can be incredibly hard to insert your needles into three stitches at the same time.

Anyway. That’s how you knit three together. I hope I was able to show you this advanced knitting increase. Feel free to comment below in case you have any questions.

How to knit three together (k3tog) for beginners

Leave a Comment

* Checkbox GDPR is required

*

I agree