A step by step tutorial on the K1tog LL and K1tog RL pseudo-decreases – smart techniques to close gaps, avoid joggs, etc
I love experimenting with my knitting and trying to figure out new ways to solve old problems. One of mine has always been finding a decrease that leads to a similar effect like a KLL or KRL. And, lo and behold, with the K1tog LL I found a little workaround.
Now, I want to make this crystal clear that I made these two “decreases” up myself. I couldn’t find them in any knitting book but have no clue if I was the first one to ever think of them. So, I make no claim here. I just want to show you these techniques and why and how I use them and expand your knowledge beyond what you find in most tutorials on how to decrease knitting.
Update: I updated the instructions in September 2021 because I found a slightly better way to knit these stitches for even neater results.
- Pick up the right loop of the stitch one row below the next stitch on your left needle.
- Lift the loop you picked up back to the left needle.
- Knit the two stitches (or rather one stitch and one loop) together through the back loop.
Instead of knitting the two loops together through the back loop, you can also just knit a standard k2tog.
This will create a less condensed stitch that will be a bit more in line with the look and feel of stockinette stitch. Most people will prefer to knit this stitch that way to create jogless stripes, etc. even though it's a bit looser.
Instructions for k1tog LL
And you knit one together left loop in a very similar way. The stitches behave in a very similar way and it boils down to where in your fabric you want to employ them – just like other left- and right-leaning knitting decreases. And k1tog LL would be the right-slanting version.
Step 1: Slip the stitch you want to knit together knitwise.
Step 2: Pick up the left loop of the stitch one row below the one you just slipped and slip the stitch you slipped back to the left needle.
Step 3: Knit the two stitches together.
You can also slip the stitch purlwise (step 1) instead. The result will be a rather loose column of knit stitches, where, unlike when you slip a stitch (in the previous row), the float is incorporated into the stitch.
Use cases for these two decreases
First of all, I call them decreases because they are knit in a similar way but they are not decreasing your stitch count. They only bring a different structure to the fabric.
#1 Creating the perfect slopped neckline without a gap
Most people who knit sweaters bottom-up will bind off around the neckline and then pick stitches up. While this will reinforce the collar, it often will look less neat than a top-down raglan sweater kind of neck or the yokes so popular in Fair Isle knitting.
But here’s another method: You can slip stitches to cable/stitch holder. But there is a problem: Typically you would try to create a nice slope by slipping the first stitch after the stitches you slipped to the cable. But if you knit across, this will still leave little gaps.
If you K1tog LL after the gap (or k1tog right loop before the gap on the right side), this won’t create an eyelet and a tight neckline.
#2 Cinching the fabric
Another problem you might be facing has to do with the way KLL and KRL “cinch” the fabric because they steal a bit of yarn from the row below. If you were to knit a shawl with these increases, this would turn into a problem.
But this “issue” can also be used for shaping toys and other knitwear. But if you want to cinch something round symmetrical at the top and the bottom, you are facing a problem: There is no corresponding decrease that really steals yarn from the row below. You can slip stitches, but that also poses a problem.
Take a look at this swatch. I slipped stitches in the middle to shorten the fabric in that position. But because you are essentially creating floats, it creates an elevated sort of line that sometimes is not what you want.
Here’s a picture of the bottom of my pumpkin pattern. I did a K1tog RL/LL and you can clearly see how this helps to bring the segments of the pumpkin a bit to the front (or rather the create the indentation).
Other than that, I am not really using these stitches for anything else. The use cases are somewhat limited and it’s certainly not the first thing a beginner needs to learn. But, I guess it’s kind of interesting to know, right?
Reading tip: The ultimate list of knitting decreases – centered, right-, and left-leaning alternatives for every project.