5 left leaning decreases
The left leaning decrease or LLD.
When I was first learning to knit, these things had me so confused! There are so many of them, are they so very different? When do you use one in preference to another? Do you have to use the one described in the pattern? Why are they written differently?
The little swatch above may help to answer some of these questions.
Firstly it’s worth considering what you value most. Are you after speed, do you want to be able to knit without peering too closely, or do you want as neat an appearance as possible? These stitches all essentially do the same job and therefore can be used interchangably, but you can see that some techniques make the decrease line appear straight, while others create a slightly zigzagged effect,. Some are narrower and some wider, so it’s worth considering whether these qualities will have any impact on your pattern.
These are the ones I’ve come across so far, but no doubt there are more.
- K2tog tbl – Knit two together through back loops, pictured rightmost in the swatch. This is undoubtedly the quickest way to make a LLD, but tends to result in a wobbly line. However this may not matter if your pattern isn’t very structured and regular, or you’re really in a hurry.
- SSK or Slip Slip Knit – Slip the first stitch knitwise onto the right needle, do the same for the second stitch, and insert left needle into the front of both stitches at once, then knit together. Once familiar, this becomes fairly quick, and seems to make the narrowest of all the LLDs. (Pictured second to right in swatch.)
- SKP or Slip Knit Pass – Slip the first stitch knitwise, knit second stitch, and pass the slipped stitch over. This is often written out the long way, which can make written patterns really confusing to read. Theoretically this creates the same results as SSK, however it seems to create a wonkier result for me, more similar to number 1, it’s also a little on the fiddly side. (Pictured centre in swatch)
- Sneaky LLD – This one I picked up somewhere in the bowels of the Ravelry forums and if I can ever remember where I will be sure to credit it properly. I like to think of it as the sneaky way because you insert the right needle knitwise into the first stitch, then without slipping the stitch, insert it into the back loop of the second stitch and knit the two stitches together this way. The first few times this feels like a magic trick because the new loop pops out from undeneath the other two and the front stitch twists around as it comes off the needle. Technically this varies from numbers 2 and 3 in that the back loop is twisted, but it is pretty hard to spot in most cases. Perfectionists may disagree. I highly recommend trying it out anyway! (Pictured second from left)
- The half-hearted left – I’m sure I’m not the first person to do this stitch, but I haven’t seen it listed elsewhere yet, so I might as well add it to the list in case someone finds it useful. Slip the first stitch knitwise, then slip it back onto the left needle and knit two together through back loops. (Slip the stitch back by poking the left needle under the front leg of the stitch, so that the stitch now appers twisted on the needle, i.e. left leg in front. This is much easier to do than describe, but if it still doesn’t make sense once you’ve tried it, let me know and I’ll post a pic.) This decrease seems a bit pointless on first description, but it actually makes a pretty neat slant, and takes no more time than an SSK. Like number 4, the back loop in this decrease is twisted. Pictured far left.
Each vertical line in the swatch represents one type of stitch, to show the flow of the decrease as they stack up. There is a yarn over between each stitch.
Swatching is a great way to try out the various stitches and see how they look in your yarn-of-choice, and try them out for speed and comfort, and to see whether it will effect the look of your pattern. For anyone really keen, in this swatch I cast on 11, *purled the WS row, then K1, LLD # 1, yo, LLD#2, yo, LLD#3, yo, LLD#4, yo, LLD#5, yo, k1 and repeated from * for 12 rows.
Hope this helps a little, and happy knitting.