SSK Knitting Decrease – Slip-Slip-Knit

A step by step tutorial on the SSK knit stitch – a left-slanted decrase. Find out how to do it and what else you need to know.

Your pattern requires you to knit a 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 an SSK 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.

What does SSK mean in knitting?

SSK Knitting sample swatch. You can see clearly how this increase is right-leaning

ⓘ The term “SSK” stands for “slip, slip, knit” and it creates a left-leaning decrease. It’s the counterpart to the right-leaning k2tog. If a pattern requires you to “SSK (3 times)” then 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.

Step by step instructions

The name “SSK” is a bit confusing. While you certainly have to slip two stitches, you actually have to knit those two through the back loop, so it’s actually more like SSK2togtbl. Admittedly, this is a bit unwieldy. Let’s show you how to knit it.

Two knit stitches on the left needle
Two stitches on the needles you want to SSK

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

Step 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

Step 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

Step 3: Insert your right needle into next stitch as if to knit, and then slip it again.

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.

Step 4: Insert your left needle into those two stitches….

insert the left needle into both stitches on the right needle again

Step 5: Slip those two stitches on the left needle again.

Step 6: And now knit those two stitches together through the back loop.

Knitting two slipped stitches through the back loop for the ssk

And here is the finished SSK stitch on your right needle. As you can see the loop leans a bit too the left.

the finished ssk stitch on the right needle

Important: Try to knit this decrease as gentle as possible and DON’T stretch 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 oversized stitches in your project.

Pro tip:

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

Slip slip knit, SSK, creates a left-slanting decrease, while K2Tog, knit two together, creates a right-slanting decrease. Together they form a pair you can use to evenly decrease a project on both sides. 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 above example, 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 those left-slanting knit stitches you might want to avoid.

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. You will, however, see the left-leaning and quite exaggerated loops you created when knitting the two slipped stitches through the back loop.

How to let your SSK knitting decreases look a bit neater

Showing you two ways to get a SSK a bit neater

SSK decreases can often look quite messy – especially if you loosened the loops too much. There are two ways to achieve this:

  • Purl through the back loop on the return row. This untwists the stitches a bit and lets them appear a bit more like stockinette stitch
  • Slip the first stitch as if to knit and then slip the second stitch as if to purl. The SSK will lay quite a bit flatter this way. But you will also be able to see both stitches (this is the reason why I don’t do it that way.

So, that’s it. This is how you do the SSK stitch. Feel free to comment with your questions and let me know how your decrease went!

SSK knitting stitch - how to slip slip knit

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