Saturday, June 7, 2014

Right Side Decreases a Complete Guide

The more we knit the more we become introduced to new stitches, including new combinations of those stitches.  As a left handed knitter versatility is one of the most beneficial traits in the knitting bag.  Once we have left the world of single stitch knitting, using only knit and purl stitches, and enter the world of decreases so many amazing aspect open up to us and can also quickly become frustrating and confusing.

In the prior blog posts "Which Way Do They Go" the concept of "lean" was introduced and in "What's the Difference between a Knit and a Knit Through the Back Loop" crossed and neutral stitches were covered. By combining these two elements various types of right side decreases evolved which show how both lean and twist/untwisted combine.

Let's start out with a quick review.  There are basically two categories decreases will fall into: 1.) left ( \ ) or right ( / ) leaning and 2.) untwisted, such as how a standard knit stitch falls with the two legs parallel to each other, the way your legs do when you have both feet flat on the floor side by side, or twisted, where the legs at the base of the stitch cross as if you were crossing your ankles.

Decreases do exactly what the name implies.  They decrease, or reduce, the number of stitches in the fabric.  For example a K2tog will decrease the stitch count by one stitch each time it is used, a K3tog will decrease the stitch count by two stitches, a K4tog will decrease the stitch count by three stitches, and so on.  The number indicated in the stitch name tells us the total number of stitches involved in making the decrease happen and the number of stitches that will be decreased in total is one less than the number.

Every decrease has it's spouse that does the the opposite.  As you can see there really is a decrease for every occasion:
Copyright William Souza 2014

If you have a piece of standard Western style Stockinette (knit on the right side, purl on the wrong side) the k2tog (knit two together)/SSK (Slip, Slip, Knit), KSP (Knit, Slip, Pass - where the slipped stitch is slipped as if to purl)/SKP (Slip, Knit, Pass - where the slipped stitch is slipped as if to knit) would be great choices for maintaining uniform appearance to the fabric. If you have an Eastern style stockinette (knit in the back loop on the right side and purl in the back loop on the wrong side) then the ssk2tog(tfl) (Slip, Slip, Knit the two slipped stitches together through the front loop) /k2togtbl (knit two stitches together through the back loop) , KSP (where the slipped stitch is slipped as if to knit)/SKP (where the slipped stitch is slipped as if to purl) would provide you with decreases that are twisted thereby allowing them to blend into the fabric.

Even though the blog "Which Way Do They Go!" touched on equivalents and substitutions taking some time and really dive into these subject a bit more in depth would be prudent since this is titled a complete guide.

What are equivalents and Substitutions?

Equivalents are, by definitions, two things that are equal to each other.  In math (back away from clicking the x button on your browser not all math is bad or determined to torture us) we often see equivalents expressed as simply as 1 = 2/2 or more complexly as 2+2 = 4 = 8-4.  In the first example 1 = 2/2 boils down to 1=1.  In the second example 2+2 = 4 = 8 - 4 boils down to 4 = 4 = 4.  Each aspect was equivalent to the other.  As much as we hate to admit it knitting does share many similarities to math.  Fortunately the aspects they share are the simple ones.  There will be no calculus involved I promise.  Some minor algebra at times when you get into designing garments but definitely NO calculus.

In knitting an equivalent is nothing more than two stitches that produce the same result.  For example a k2tog = KSP (providing you do the "slip" part as if to purl).  Both of these decreases result in a left slanting decrease on the right side of the fabric with both legs of the stitch falling parallel to each other for left handed knitters.  There is a purl side decrease that also produces the same result as both of these however I will save that for the Purl Side Decreases a Complete Guide.)

A substitutions is nothing more than what you think.  It is where you swap one thing for another.  We can substitute for two reasons as a left handed knitter.  First because we prefer to make a left slanting decrease one way more than another such as if a pattern calls for a KSP we could choose to substitute a k2tog.  The other reason is because we want to make a pattern that is written for a right handed knitter and we want to have the result come out EXACTLY like the original.  In this instance we would need to substitute to ensure our decreases go the exact same way as the decreases do in the pattern.  If the pattern says to do a k2tog in a specific place we would substitute an SSK.  In this instance we are substituting to get a desired result.  A chart illustrating the various decreases, how they lean and if they are open or twisted can be found on the page Decrease Reference Chart.

Now that you have had your mind filled will all sorts of information to ponder I hope the one thing you get from this is to view your knitting with a keen eye.  Always look and see what each stitch looks like, notice the character they have and the visual dimension each and every one expresses.  Knitting is so much more than going through the motions.  It is all about expression and joy.  The more you look the more you will see it!

Copyright William Souza 2014 

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