The Many Uses Of The Slip Stitch

Slip stitch? Really?

It sounds a bit like "make a mistake".

This one is to be taken quite literally - slip, not drop!

You have two choices when following an instruction that indicates "sl" a stitch.

  • Knitwise
  • Purlwise


Insert the right needle into the stitch on the left needle "as if to purl" and slide it off the left needle.


Insert the right needle into the stitch on the left needle "as if to knit" and slide it off the left needle.

You might be wondering what the difference is.

It is a bit difficult to see a difference when used by themselves in a row, but if you look closely, you will see that the knitwise stitch has a twist, and the purlwise is flat.

As a general rule, always slip purlwise unless told otherwise.

Pretty simple, right?

So, How Are They Used?

The most common use for slipping stitches is for decreasing stitches. And yes, there are many different ways to do decreases that utilize slipping stitches.

If you go look at the common abbreviations table, you will see:

  • psso - pass the slipped stitch over
  • skpo - slip 1, knit 1, pass the slipped stitch over
  • sl - slip
  • sl st(s)- slip stitch(es)
  • ssk - slip, slip, knit both slipped stitches together
  • st(s) - slip stitch(es)

These are the most common ways you might see instructions in patterns.

Are you wondering how to do these?

Here are a few examples:

The stitch markers show you where we start.


Slip 1

Knit 1

Pass the slipped stitch over the knit stitch


Slip 2 stitches onto the right needle one at a time as if to knit .

Insert left needle into slipped stitches from left to right.

Knit the two stitches together with the right needle in back.


This is also referred to as a double decrease. It is not in the table of common abbreviations, but you may see it in a pattern.

Slip 1

Knit 2 together

Pass the slipped stitch over

Now that you've got the hang of interpreting some of the variations of using the slipped stitch, you might want to consider this one:

Slip the first stitch on every row when knitting flat pieces.

Why? It will give you a nice, neat edge. See the difference here under the heading "Slip the first stitch".

What a difference it makes!

     Keep On Knitting!

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