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!

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Instructions: How to knit three together (k3tog)

wrapping the yarn around needle counter-clockwise for the k3tog

The easiest way to decrease by three stitches is by doing a regular knit stitch into three loops at the same time. It's very similar to k2tog and will also result in a nice right-slanting decrease.

Active Time 1 minute
Total Time 1 minute


  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
  2. Wrap the yarn around your needle counter-clockwise. Or just pick it through if you are a picker like me.
    wrapping the yarn around needle counter-clockwise for the k3tog
  3. Pull the yarn through all three stitches and drop the resulting decrease 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.

Reading tip: If this is too difficult, read my tutorial on how to decrease for beginners.

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. You can also work it from the wrong side. Here’s how to knit a centered double decrease purl)

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. The purl counterpart is p3tog tbl.

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.

Reading tip: The ultimate list of knitting decreases – centered, right-, and left-leaning alternatives for every project.

Anyway. That’s how you knit three together. Feel free to comment below in case you have any questions.

How to knit three together (k3tog) for beginners

7 thoughts on “How to knit 3 together (k3tog)”

  1. I do an alternative of the centered double degrease that I figured out from a video you did for cast-on for 2×2 ribbing that has become my go-to method to start a sweater or hat. I slip two stitches K-wise, then put them back on the left needle one at a time which reverses their order. Then I K-3-together. I find this easier than the method you show here, and for me, it also gives a more even result.

    I really love your tutorials and your videos. Thank you for all the thought, effort, and time that you put into them!

    • Hey Ellen,
      Yes, that sounds definitely doable. And of course, different people will find different techniques easier or harder. So awesome that you were able to figure it out for yourself!

  2. Hi Norman, I haven’t tried this yet but my next project is going to require a K3tog TBL. Was thinking of neatening it up in the same way I do a K2tog-L.
    Sl1KW, Sl2PW, K3tog TBL, but taking out the slack of the first stitch by stretching the second, and then the third, before slipping off the second and third stitches. What do you think?
    Best regards

    • I am not quite sure I can follow your precise instructions. there seems to be at least on step missing.
      Still, K2tog-l is structurally different from k2tog tbl but the same as SSK.
      Depending on your pattern, this might, of course, look neater. But I cannot tell you if it is suitable.

  3. Norman, Norman, what did I do with knitting queries before I found you on YouTube! Before January of this year I had not knitted for at least 40 years and back then I wasn’t exactly proficient but since I discovered your videos and this website, I’ve even managed to knit with two colors at once!
    I just wanted to say a huge thank you for these amazingly detailed resources and for your time and energy. I sing your praises at my various knitting and crafting groups, here in the UK as my way of spreading the word and showing gratitude.
    Thank you, thank you!

  4. Is there an increase that can give similar results as CDD? I saw CDI but I think the line in the center isn’t as crisp (IMO – haven’t tried it yet)


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