What is slipping a stitch and why the heck should you do it?
To slip a stitch in knitting, simply pass the stitch from the left needle to the right, without working it. I’ll show you how to do it correctly below – but here are the reasons why you should do it:
1) To make a neat-looking edge on Stockinette stitch
2) To avoid loose edges on garter or stockinette stitch
3) To make a nice edge for seaming or picking up and knitting
4) To create beautiful color and texture patterns
Slip The First Stitch To Create A Smooth Edge
1. I slip the first stitch of every row often in my knitting videos, and I get a lot of comments asking why I do it. People also wonder if there is a certain way to do it correctly. Well, wonder no longer!
It’s also much easier to pick up and knit into edge stitches that have been slipped, because you can easily see which two loops to go under.
Lastly, beginners tend to have loose (and just plain funky) side stitches as they get the hang of tensioning the yarn and creating the basic stitches.
Don’t Slip Stitches On Garter Stitch Edges
I don’t recommend slipping the first stitch of every row on Garter stitch – after photographing a swatch with one edge slipped and one not slipped, I think I prefer the not-slipped edge. You decide!
Below you can see the two edges up close (click each photo to enlarge).
The swatch edges seem almost identical, but I think the slipped edge looks a little more bumpy and, in addition, the bumps aren’t aligned with the garter-stitch ridges, so they are kind of conspicuous.
I think this is barely noticeable, but…
On the un-slipped swatch, the edge stitches perfectly blend with the garter-stitch ridges, making this an ideal edge.
However, if you are going to seam up or pick up and knit into your garter-stitch pieces, I still recommend that you slip the edge stitches so that you have an easy time finding the right loops to go through.
Pass The Stitch From Left To Right Needle Purlwise To Slip
So how and when do you do this move? Well, do it any time your pattern calls for you to Sl 1 (= “slip one stitch”), or any time you want a custom edge!
To slip the first stitch of every row is easy: pass the first stitch from the left needle tip to the right needle tip without knitting or purling it.
Just point your needle-tips towards each other and move that stitch over! This is also called slipping a stitch purl-wise.
This video shows exactly how to do it:
Be Consistent: Slipping Purlwise Or Knitwise?
If you want, you can slip the stitch purl-wise when you are going to purl the row, and knit-wise when you are going to knit the row.
Or you can do like me, and always slip your stitches purl-wise, no matter what. You’ll never see the difference! All you need to do is be consistent.
Use These Classic Slip-Stitch Projects To Practice
The popular Koigu Linen-Stitch Scarf (left), uses slipped stitches to turn three unrelated colors of Koigu KPPPM into a symphony of blended stitches.
Any mosaic pattern such as the Family of Funky Stockings uses slipped stitches to create color designs while only knitting with one color per row.
Practice Slipping Stitches: The Eye-Of-The-Partridge Heel
You can substitute this pattern for any other in your heel flap.
Why not give it a try?
Row 1 (RS): *Sl 1, K1* rep from * across, ending with K1.
Row 2 and all even rows: Sl 1st st, purl across rest of row.
Row 3: Sl 2, *(K1, Sl 1), rep from * across, ending with K2.
So go slip some stitches, already!
- How To Pick Up and Knit Stitches Two Ways
- How To Count Rows and Change Colors Smoothly on Garter Stitch
If you liked this tutorial on how to slip a stitch in knitting, post in the comments and click the “Like” button!