Sunday, January 6, 2019

Neater SSK Decreases

I apologize for not posting sooner but between travel, the holidays and the Spring issue of Cast On (see Current Projects) I haven't had much time.  I have really been knitting like mad to make the deadline for the photo shoot.

Student News
Quite a few people have signed up for the Basics course and several for the Finishing Course.  I haven't received many lessons yet but I expect an uptick now that the holidays are finally OVER!

Tip of the Week
I've had several students sent me links to videos show a new way to make neater SSK decreases.  This new method (I'm not going to put links in for this method as they all omit one rather important detail) is fine for your own projects but if you are working on the Masters Program the results of this technique are not acceptable.  

When you need to use mirrored decreases (to shape a neckline, for example) there is a problem.  K2tog produces a neat, right slanting decrease.  (It slants to the right since the stitch to the left is on top of the stitch to the right.)  Left slanting decreases aren't quite so neat and tidy.  When I first started knitting, the preferred technique is the SKP (and this is still the preferred technique in Britain and Japan).  Since just the first stitch is slipped and then passed over the second stitch, it often produces a very stretched out, large left slanting decrease (the stitch to the right is on top of the stitch to the left.)  A big improvement on SKP is the SSK since two stitches are slipped, the decrease is smaller.  How nice the SSK looks depends on your technique.  If you use just your needle tips and really baby it, you can get  a pretty good decrease.

One improvement over this technique that my students suggest is slipping just the first stitch when working the SSK.  Yes, this is does make the decrease slightly smaller but it twists the stitch to the left.  For decreases to be fully mirrored, they have to be the same type of decrease, that is untwisted or twisted.  A newer version of the same decrease is making the rounds now where you insert the needle into the first stitch and then into the back of the next stitch and then pull the yarn through both.  It produces the same result.  None of the videos I've seen make mention of the twisted stitch.  After teaching the Basics class for 10 years I have learned that many knitters cannot read their work and can't tell the difference until it is pointed out.

In the photo below I have worked a swatch using larger needles that I normally would.  If you look at the left side, I have worked a series of K2tog decreases.  On the right side I've worked SSK and variants so you can compare.

First look at the K2tog decreases.  Notice that the stitch to the left is on top of the stitch to the right AND that stitch is open at the bottom, that is not twisted.  That is what we are looking to match on the right side.

Look at the decrease on the right side with a 1 to the left.  I used just the standard technique for SSKs (which I demonstrate in the video) but I have used just my needle tips and really babied.  I must say, it looks pretty good.  When I worked the decrease labelled 2 I used a technique where on the row before the decrease row (the WS row) you wrap the stitches to be decreased the wrong way.  This alters their orientation on the needle.  When you slip the stitches for an SSK this is what you are doing so this technique skips that step.  Since they aren't slipped, they are less stretched out.
  It looks pretty much the same as the SSK where I babied the stitches.  Notice that the stitch to the left is open at the bottom and matches the K2tog.

Now look at the decrease labelled 3 and notice that it stands out more than the others.  The top stitch is twisted as well as the next stitch.  This happens if you don't slip the stitches knitwise before making the decrease.  Twisted stitches are tighter than regular stitches and have a different gauge which is why you generally avoid them unless you are working Bavarian patterns or come lace patterns.

The decreases labelled 4 and 5 use the techniques I mentioned above.  The second stitches are twisted.  If you look closely you can see that they do not match their counterparts on the opposite side of the swatch.


In the photo below I've placed arrows below the second stitches so you can see the twisted stitches and compare them.  This video demonstrates all of the techniques I've discussed here.

Knitting Salon
Salon will be today from 2-4 pm.  Despite my laziness in not posting I have had salon most every weekend.  Hopefully those coming today will help me get rid of all of the lovely chocolates left over from the holidays!

Current Projects
My holiday knitting never got done, or even started!  We start working on the Spring issue in November and it is ALWAYS a problem getting designs for this issue.  Knitters do not want to commit to extra knitting over the holidays (even when I try and guilt them into it!) What seems to happen every year is I wind up taking on more that I'd like so I have been knitting like a mad person to get these things done.  The worst part is that I've put off writing the patterns so the week after the photo shoot will be a horror show!  Not shown is a pair of knee high socks.  I'll photo them in my next entry along with (hopefully) very belated Christmas gifts.

This one is a cover up.  I envision it being worn over yoga clothes.

The Stitch Anatomy article is about elongated stitches. The bottom of the sweater & cuffs are the sea foam pattern.  The Special Topics in Finishing article is about sewing on buttons which I better read before I put on these buttons...

I loved Leslie's article on Puntas so I designed this top to use the intarsia technique but added the bottom border.  Puntas are really fun.  I plan to use them again.

This is the Confident Beginner garment to accompany the Skill Building article on WS decreases.  That lace at the bottom doesn't have any plain rows.  I love it.  Thank you Barbara Walker.

I think you can see I will be busy this week.  None of the yarn tails (except on the Puntas Top) have been woven in and I also have to knit those knee highs....

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