Techniques in Depth: Fully Fashioned Part 2 (Decreases)

May 22, 2019

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  • The concept of left and right has always been very confusing to me. In all the pictures it looks like the k2tog’s are leaning to the right and the ssk’s seem to be leaning to the left, but I guess it’s the grain of the stockinette fabric, not the decrease, that looks that way…I guess this is why I always do it wrong when the pattern doesn’t specify!

    • Yes, you’re right, k2tog *does* lean to the right, and ssk *does* lean to the left. Did we mix something up in the text?

  • Thank you for explaining the meaning of “fully fashioned”! I have a lot of old patterns and I could never figure out what they were referring to.

  • Thank you! I really needed some help with these situations.

  • Here’s a technique from Yarnsub: ( The first variation seems too complicated to me, but the second, alternative method is just the thing. There’s a link to a video with both methods, but go directly to 1:10.

    After working an SSK just the way described above in the sidebar–slip 1 knitwise, slip 1 purlwise, k2tog–discard only the first stitch, then pull the second stitch back away from the work to take up the slack before discarding it. Before knitting the next stitch, pull the yarn to tighten up the one you just knit.

    • Ooh, thank you for that link! I am a YarnSub fan, but I hadn’t seen that post yet. Wendy’s articulation of the source of left-leaning sloppiness is wonderfully insightful. I find it difficult to remember sometimes that in knitting, a stitch on my needle is only half complete — a stitch’s final appearance is “made” as much by actions taken on its surrounding stitches as by my direct interaction with that particular stitch. In decreases, it’s even harder to remember that, since while treating two stitches as one I tend to think of them that way, too.

      I had seen Wendy’s earlier, more complex left-leaning decrease, the slip-twist-turn, which I admire for its perfectionism but is indeed enormously fiddly. I have been using TechKnitter’s SYTK ( for years (which Wendy cites as an influence).

      The SYTK also uses a yank to remove the excess yarn from the front stitch, but instead of leaving the excess in the back stitch, it twists that stitch to try to really lock the excess yarn away. In my experience this works quite well but is annoying to unpick, since you have to untwist all those twisted sts. Not so terrible for sweater shaping, but can be a real headache in lace. So I’m looking forward to trying out the K2tog-L!

      I feel like someone could do an entire documentary on knitters’ pursuit of the holy grail of the tidy left-leaning decrease!

  • I’ve been using Cat Bordhi’s ssk on a sweater I’m knitting. In the row before the ssk, you sl the st before the future ssk. Next round you work the slipped st like you would a dropped st, but don’t knit it, and then work the ssk. Next round you work the slipped st again like you would a dropped st, but don’t knit it, and knit the ssk through the back. You repeat those rounds until you’ve worked all the ssks and then work the slipped st like a slipped st AND knit it. She has a video up about it.

  • Good info! Is it available in your book “The Knitter’s Dictionary”? I would love this info as a hardcopy reference…

  • Thank you, Kate, as always. I can always follow your explanations no matter how complex the subject matter, when with most others, two sentences in, I throw up my hands and turn the page.

  • I’m confused about how to decrease on both the knit and purl sides (a pattern I’m working on requires paired decreases on every row of stockinette). It seems to me that if I use ask/k2tog on the knit side that I have to reverse this on the purl side and use p2tog/ssp for the decreases so that the lean matches. Is that right or am I thinking about this wrong? Thanks for any clarification of this.

  • Thank you Kate! I am resizing the crown decreases of a hat and this was hugely helpful!!