How to knit SSP – Slip, Slip, Purl

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 purl side of a swatch I decreased with SSP

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, results in a much neater decrease line on the knit side. And this is probably the reason why most knitting patterns will pick it.

close-up of a knitted swatch decreased with the ssp knitting stitch as seen from the right side
the right (knit) side of the ssp decrease

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

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.

Active Time 1 minute
Total Time 1 minute

Instructions

  1. Slip the two stitches you want to decrease knitwise to the right needle without knitting them.

    slipping two stitches knitwise to start the ssp knitting stitch
  2. Slip these stitches back to the left needle (point to point; so without further twisting them).

    slipping back both stitches (point to point) to the left needle
  3. Insert the right needle into these two stitches through the back loop.

    inserting the needle through the backloop of those two stitches
  4. Wrap the yarn around the needle counter-clockwise.

    wrapping the yarn counter-clockwise around the needle
  5. Pull the yarn through, and slip the stitches off the needle.

    pulling the yarn all the way through and dropping the stitch to finish the ssp knitting decrease

Notes

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.

Comparing SSP & P2tog tbl

I don’t know how familiar you 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.

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).

The bottom half as knit the traditional way; In the top half (beyond the 2 rows of st st) I twisted the decreases in the return row.

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.

And that’s everything you need to know about the ssp knitting stitch. Feel free to comment below with your questions.

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