Anyone who has knitted a hat, shawl, mittens, or sweater has probably had to knit decreases. I continue to be interested in the various methods and how different they look. Most of the time, I am keen to follow the method noted in the pattern. It is part of the sweater design. I will admit, however, that I have chosen a different method of decreases (and short rows, for that matter) for various projects based on personal preference. This usually has to do with how the decreases look. Some common decrease stitches are listed below.
• Knit Two Together (K2tog).
• Knit Two Together Through the Back Loop (KK2tbl).
• Slip One, Knit One. Pass Slip Stitch Over (SKP). Slip first stitch knit-wise, knit second stitch. Pass slipped stitch over the knitted stitch.
• Slip, Slip, Knit (SSK). Slip one knit-wise, slip one purl-wise, knit the two slipped stitches together through the back loops.
• Slip, Slip Purl (SSP). Slip stitch knit-wise, slip next stitch knit-wise, pass stitches back to the left-hand needle (which changes the orientation of the stitches), purl two stitches through the back loop.
• Slip 1, K2tog, Pass Slipped Stitch Over (SK2P).
Video links to tutorials for the above stitches are at the end of this blog.
Below is a screenshot from the video, Decreases: K2tog, SSK, SKPO, SSP, produced by Hands On Knitting Center YouTube Channel). It shows the decreases as they look on your needles.
The sweater I am finishing for the Anker's Sweater Knit-A-Long calls for Knit Two Together (K2tog) and Knit Two Together Through the Back Loop (KK2tbl) decreases. As you can see (left), these types of decreases create left-leaning and right-leaning decreases. As a rule, you can determine if your decreased stitch is right or left-leaning by looking at which direction your working needle is pointed. Your working needle should be pointing to the right when you K2tog and to the left when knitting SSK.
The decreases pictured are for the sleeve. Usually, a K2tog is paired with SSK for sleeve decreases. Pairing a K2tog and a K2togbl is a different way to approach decreasing stitches. I like the way the decreases looked well enough, but if I knit the sweater again, I would go with a K2tog on the left and an SSK on the right. The best way to determine if you like how a decrease looks is to knit a swatch and use the decrease stitch stipulated in the pattern (which I should have done). Various decrease stitches can look different based on the type of yarn and needle size. If you are satisfied with the look, go for it. If not, try a different one. Remember, the designer may choose a decrease stitch based on how well it will work with an adjacent stitch pattern. Since the sleeve in my sweater is knitted in stockinette stitch, I could have used a different decrease stitch without impacting a design.
If you are new to knitting, I have included videos by Blue Mouse Knits to help you.