A step-by-step tutorial on the ssp knitting stitch. A right-leaning purl decrease.
Your pattern calls for an SSP and you got no clue what it means nor how to it knit? Well, then you came to the right place. Because in this post, I will show you everything you need to know about the SSP purl decrease.
The knitting term SSP stands for “slip, slip, purl”. It’s a right-leaning decrease for the purl side and will look similar to an SSK when seen from the knit side. The corresponding left-leaning purl decrease would be a simple p2tog.
It’s sadly not the easiest knitting stitch. When compared to p2tog tbl (which is also right-leaning) it does, however, result in a much neater decrease line on the knit side. And this is probably the reason why most knitting patterns will pick it.
If you are a bit confused about the slant of this stitch, then you need to consider that some flat patterns will decrease on the wrong side to achieve a certain effect on the right side. And thus, SSP is often called “left-slanting”, even though, it’s leaning towards the right on the purl side of your project.
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Instructions for the ssp knitting stitch
Knitting ssp basically boils down to slipping two stitches knitwise one at a time and then purling them together through the back loop.
- Slip the two stitches you want to decrease knitwise to the right needle without knitting them.
- Slip these stitches back to the left needle (point to point; so without further twisting them).
- Insert the right needle into these two stitches through the back loop.
- Wrap the yarn around the needle counter-clockwise.
- Pull the yarn through, and slip the stitches off the needle.
It helps to have sharp-pointed knitting needles. This makes inserting the tip a bit easier into the back loop. Knitting a bit looser (but not too loosely) is also a nice tip.
But there is one important thing: Try to work the ssp decrease on the tip of your needles. The more you stretch out these stitches as you knit, the less neat it will look on the right side.
Reading tip: I included this decrease in my list of essential decreases for beginners.
Comparing SSP & P2tog tbl
I don’t know how familiar you are with other knitting decreases. But achieving a really neat-looking left-leaning decrease on the right side has been a problem knitters have sought to solve for centuries. The SSP decrease is actually as close to perfect as it gets.
Even though p2tog tbl already looks quite nice, SSP beats it by a mile and I believe it is the most beautiful way to achieve a left-slanting decrease on the knit side. K2tog left would be a close second. Check out my full tutorial on left-leaning decreases for a deeper analysis here.
But what about the purl side? Well, I do have to say that knitting an SSP is the neater option here as well. That being said, both are not ideal and are quite noticeable.
I tried to make them a bit prettier by purling it through the back loop in the next round. If you take a look at the swatch below that sadly did not yield any particularly notable results (and neither did slipping either stitch purlwise).
Suffice to say, my tests did not yield any worthy candidates. In fact, I think it made things worse – both on the right & the wrong side. I still felt like showing you these results in case you were wondering yourself.
Interestingly enough. I found that SSK actually results in the neatest right-leaning purl decrease for me. So, you might actually give this a try. This is, quite obviously, no option if you are knitting in the round. Then SSP will be your best bet.
Reading tip: The ultimate list of knitting decreases – centered, right-, and left-leaning alternatives for every project.
2 thoughts on “How to knit SSP – Slip, Slip, Purl”
OK Norman, this is great. I have been knitting for a long time, and have checked out several sites for this stitch. I got that you had to go left to right through the back loops but for the life of me couldn’t figure out how to wrap the yarn to get it through the stitches. Thanx to you I realised that the right needle goes back in front and the yarn wraps counterclockwise. Now I can finally do it right. :-). Thanks for your blog.
Hey Judith, very happy to hear I was able to help you! Have fun knitting this lovely decrease.