A step-by-step tutorial on knitting a centered single decrease – 2 ways
In knitting, almost all decreases have a slant. They either lean to the left or the right, and when stacked upon each other they will form a neat decrease line. But there is one exception: The centered single decrease (CSD) – sometimes also called bunny ear decrease.
This is a very smart technique that uses an ingenious trick to create an effect similar to the centered double decrease. You work it through three stitches as well but then you only reduce the stitch count by one.
There are two distinct ways to knit it – one with the central stitch in front and one version with the central stitch in the back. Let’s show you how to knit both!
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- Knit up to one stitch before the position where you want to decrease. There needs to be one stitch to the left and the right of the central stitch.
- Insert your right needle into the first two stitches as if to knit them together and wrap the yarn around the needle counter-clockwise.
- Pull the working yarn through ONLY the right-most stitch.
- Drop both stitches off the needle. The result should be a kind of double-stitch on your right needle (note: this process will also twist these two stitches counter-clockwise).
- Knit the next stitch on your left needle as normal.
- Pass the right-most stitch over the other two.
Pay attention: When you drop the right stitch in step 4, you are basically changing the order of the stitches. So, the stitch that appears to be on the right in step 6 is actually the center stitch.
An alternative way to knit the centered single decrease (loop in back)
The first method I showed you will form a rather neat decrease that is maybe a little bit more invisible when stacked upon each other. Basically, you are passing the central stitch over the outer stitches – a bit like a lasso. But you can also work an SSK followed through a k2tog through the same stitch.
The result will be a decrease that looks a bit like little ears. And I guess that’s why it is sometimes also called “bunny ear decrease”, though I think this name is a bit misleading and should best be forgotten.
Step 1: Knit a standard SSK by slipping two stitches knitwise and knitting them together through the backloop.
Step 2: There should be two loops below the resulting decrease. Pick up the loop further to the back from the front with your left needle. Keep the working yarn in the back (you may have to move it back manually with your left hand).
Step 3: Knit the next stitch and the one you just lifted back to the needle together.
This version of the centered single decrease is probably more suitable for more ornamental use cases or single uses. You tend to end up with a little eyelet in between the “ears” and this might not be the desired look for a pattern where you don’t want to draw too much attention to your decreases.
Now, I searched through quite a lot of knitting books but couldn’t find a uniform naming convention. While I typically shy away from naming any techniques (I feel it’s quite pretentious), I think I have to propose something here as I couldn’t find it in any of the standard knitting books.
If you look at the swatch above showing the wrong side, you can clearly see that the first method I showed you is quite a bit neater (and would be my preferred method for the purl-heavy patterns). The difference between the two versions is where the central loop will end up. In the front or in the back.
Hence I propose to call the first method Centered single decrease front (CSDF) and the second method Centered single decrease back (CSDB). I feel those names would be very consistent with the rest of the knitting decreases.