How to do the SSK Knitting Stitch- Slip-Slip-Knit

A step-by-step tutorial on the SSK knitting stitch – a left-slanting decrease.

Your pattern requires you to knit an SSK and you don’t know do it? Then you came to the right place. In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to decrease stitches with this knitting stitch step by step.

It’s not hard to do at all and even beginners can master this decrease easily with a bit of practice. Besides, I made sure to include big pictures and a video in this tutorial so you can easily follow along and learn this knitting technique.

So, let’s dive right into it, eh?

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SSK Knitting sample swatch. You can see clearly how this increase is right-leaning
A swatch decreased with SSK on the right side

What does SSK mean in knitting?

ⓘ The knitting abbreviation “SSK” stands for “slip, slip, knit” and it creates a left-leaning decrease. The term describes the counterpart to the right-leaning k2tog. If a pattern requires you to “SSK (3 times)” then this means you have to perform this stitch three times. If you are on the left side of a garment and your pattern simply tells you to decrease two stitches, then the SSK will be a good bet.

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Step by Step instructions for SSK

Two knit stitches on the left needle

To knit this left-leaning decrease you have to slip two stitches back and forth in order to twist them, and only then will you knit them together through the back loop. This way, you achieve a very neat decrease line.

Note: I am using a red contrasting yarn in the following tutorial for demonstration purposes only.

Active Time 1 minute
Total Time 1 minute

Instructions

  1. Insert your right needle into the first stitch on your left needle as if to knit.

    insert the needle into the first stitch as to knit
  2. And then simply slip that stitch onto your right needle WITHOUT knitting (you will only twist the stitch that way).

    First stitch slipped on the the right needle
    A lot of patterns will simply write "slip a stitch knitwise" to describe steps 1+2
  3. Insert your right needle into the next stitch as if to knit, and then slip it as well.

    Slipping the second stitch on the right needle as if to knit
    You should now have two slipped stitches on your right needle that are twisted.
  4. Insert your right needle into those two stitches and slip those two stitches back to the left needle again.

    insert the left needle into both stitches on the right needle again
  5. And now, insert your right needle into the back loop of these two stitches
    Knitting two slipped stitches through the back loop for the ssk
  6. And knit them together through back loop (k2tog tbl). And there is the finished SSK knitting stitch on your right needle. As you can see the loop leans a bit to the left.

    the finished ssk stitch on the right needle

Notes

Try to knit this decrease as gently as possible and DON'T stretch out the loops as you slip them. The more you pull and wiggle around, the more visible this increase will become and you'll end up with an oversize and quite noticeable stitch in your project. So, try to knit to work at the very tip of your needles.

Also, you don't actually have to pull your right needle out when you slip them on the left needle. It's already in the right position to knit through the back loop. So you can actually skip step 5!

Difference between K2tog and SSK

A swatch to show the difference between SSK and Ktog
A swatch where I decreases stitches on BOTH sides with K2tog and SSK to show you the difference appearance

SSK creates a left-slanting decrease, while knitting two together (k2tog) creates a right-slanting decrease. Together they form a pair you can use to decrease a project on both sides evenly. SSK is typically used on the right side of your work, while K2tog is used on the left side. This might be a bit counter-intuitive, but you want the stitches to lean left into the fabric, and if you were to use it on the left side, then they would lean outwards.

If you take a close look at the swatch above, you can see how both stitches look like in a piece of fabric. I knitted SSK and K2tog on BOTH sides of the swatch so you can see how the respective decrease looks like on either side of the work. And on the left side at the very top of the swatch, you can clearly see what happens if you use a left-leaning decrease on the left side.

Personally speaking, I have to say that both sides have their charm. When used on the right side, SSK creates a little left-leaning ridge. If you use it on the left side there will be no ridge and it lays a bit flatter. The stitches don’t form one continuous decrease line though and look a bit twisted.

How to let your SSK knitting decreases look a bit neater

A swatch with a couple of different left-leaning alternatives side by side

SSK decreases can often look quite wonky – especially if you don’t knit at the very tip of your needles and accidentally pulled out the loops too much. There are three ways to improve the classic method.:

  • Purl the remaining stitch through the back loop on the return row. This untwists the stitches a bit and lets them appear a bit more like stockinette stitch (Note: If you are knitting in the round, then you obviously would have to knit them through back loop).
  • Slip the first stitch knitwise and then slip the second stitch as if to purl. This is also known as Slip, Slip purl, knit (SSPK) and will lay quite a bit flatter this way. But you will also be able to see both stitches layered on top of each other.
  • The neatest option, in my opinion, is knitting an SSP from the wrong side.

So, This is how to knit ssk. Feel free to comment with your questions!

SSK knitting stitch - how to slip slip knit

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