How to Decrease Stitches in Knitting

I promised decreases and here they are!  After all, it’s all very well knowing how to increase but there is a limit to everything.


Step 1 – which decrease?

Like with increases, decreases are not limited to the purely functional – interesting effects can be created by shaping and reducing stitch count. For example, making a baby blanket from two triangles rather than in one knitted rectangle, can have a really pleasing pattern to it. And of course, without decreases, there are no toys which can be knitted. Well, except square robots I suppose.

And also like with increases, many commercial patterns do not give precise instructions as to which decrease to use. As long as you use just one type and you consider the project, things will go just fine!

The most popular is knit two together (k2tog) and variations on the slip, knit and pass over type decreases. It is a good idea to use a “matching pair” (see below in Step 3) to produce a polished project.

Step 2 – How to Decrease

Knit-two-together (k2tog) – Right slanting decrease

Insert RH needle into two stitches at the same knitwise and knit as normal. Easy peasy.

Generally use at the end of the row.

k2tog left

k2tog left

k2tog right

k2tog right

Slip, Slip, Knit (ssk) – Left slanting decrease

Slip two stitches individually knitwise onto the right needle. Insert the left needle tip into the front of the two slipped stitches to hold them in place while you knit them together through their back loops with the right needle.

Ideal pairing for k2tog – generally use on the beginning of a row.

ssk left

ssk left

ssk right

ssk right

Slip One, Knit One, Pass slipped stitch Over (skpsso) – Left slanting decrease

Slip one stitch knitwise, knit the next stitch. Use the left needle tip to pass the slipped stitch up and over the knit stitch and off the right needle.

To minimise the prominence of the decrease, try to not stretch the stitch as you are passing it over the other.

skpsso left

skpsso left

skpsso right

skpsso right

Purl Two Together (p2tog) – Right-slanting decrease

Insert the right needle into two stitches together purlwise and purl them together as if they were a single stitch. Another simple one.

This looks exactly like a k2tog on the knit side.

Slip, Slip, Purl (ssp) – Right-slanting decrease

Slip two stitches individually knitwise to the right needle. Return these two stitches to the left needle in their twisted orientation, then purl them together through their back loops.

It looks the same as an ssk decrease on the knit side.

Slip one, Purl one, Pass slipped stitch over (sppsso) – Right-slanting decrease

Slip one stitch purlwise, then purl the next stitch. Pass the slipped stitch over the purled stitch and off the right needle.

It forms a mirror image of the ssp decrease and looks the same as a p2tog decrease on the knit side.

Step 3 And Finally, a matching pair

All good newsy items have this heading, so I thought I’d follow course. This is a handy little guide as to how left slanting and right slanting decreases fit together – their matching pair if you like!


Hope this all helps to know when is ENOUGH.


Welcome to all of you who have recently started reading my blog and thank you for your time – looking forward to your comments!

About monsteryarns

I am a yarn enthusiast and knitter.
This entry was posted in Decreasing, Knitting, Techniques and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to How to Decrease Stitches in Knitting

  1. Tina says:

    Great tutorial!

  2. lawlady1 says:

    Very helpful – I always have trouble keeping “left-leaning” and “right-leaning” straight.

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