Monday, March 5, 2007

Slipping Stitches - Just The Basics

Slipping stitches is about as simple a technique as you will find in knitting, yet it can be used to create an unlimited number of color and texture patterns. The basic maneuver simple: put the tip of the right needle into the first stitch on the left needle. Slide (slip) the stitch off of the left needle without working it. It is now sitting on the right needle and you are ready to work the next stitch on the left needle. Easy! But there are a couple of fundamentals to be aware of.

Knitwise vs. Purlwise

There are two different ways you can slip that unworked stitch over. You can insert your right needle as if you were going to knit it.

This is called slipping "knitwise" (kwise) or "as if to knit". Slipping knitwise is often used as part of decreases (eg. SSK), because it turns the stitch in preparation for the rest of the decrease. However, when slip stitches are used as the basis for pattern stitches, they are most usually slipped purlwise (or "as if to purl"), as in the picture below.

This is because you generally do not want to turn the stitch (which would result in a twisted slipped stitch once it is worked on the next row or rows up).

Good directions will tell you whether to slip knitwise or purlwise. This information may be given as part of the row directions, for example "*K3, sl1 pwise; rep from *". Or there may simply be a statement at the beginning of the directions that says "All slipped stitches are to be slipped as if to purl (or purlwise)."

If the directions for a pattern stitch do not specify, assume that the stitch is to be slipped purlwise.

wyif vs. wyib

"wyif" means "with yarn in front" and "wyib" means "with yarn in back". These terms describe the placement of your working yarn as you slip the stitch. It is important to realize that the terms have nothing at all to do with the "right" and "wrong" sides of the fabric you are creating. They refer exclusively to the placement of the working yarn in relation to you as your work the pattern row.

"With yarn in back" means that the working yarn is at the far side of your work (the side away from you) as you slip the stitch. "With yarn in front" means that the working yarn is at the near side of your work (the side closest to you). This may or may not involve moving the yarn from front to back before and after slipping the stitch.

If I am working on a knit row and the directions tell me to sl1 wyib (slip 1 with yarn in back), I do not need to do anything with the working yarn. It is already at the far side of the work in position to knit. (You can see the position in the pictures above.)

If, however, I am working on a knit row and the directions say sl1 wyif (slip 1 with yarn in front), I will need to move the working yarn towards me between the needle tips and hold it there as I slip the stitch,

and then I move it back away from me between the needle tips after I have slipped the stitch.

This has brought the yarn back into position for me to knit the next stitch. (If you look closely, you will see that it has left a little "bar" of yarn in front of the slipped stitch.) Good pattern stitch directions will tell you whether to slip wyif or wyib.


kitty_mom said...

this is a FUN slipstitch pattern, and easy too!


Cindy G said...

That is a neat one. And a really good example of how effective slip stitch patterns can be with variagated yarns

Minmade said...

I just wanted to thank you for the information on this blog post! I started to knit a hat and have directions that say "slip 1 with yarn in front, k1" and wasn't sure whether to slip knitwise or purlwise. Now I know! This post was a great help.


valenciyah.blogspot,com said...

i've just recently started knitting, about 6 months now. I knitted 3 pillowcases for my grandbabies, three hats, one hat and mitten set,three bagsand a bear for my two week old grand nephew. Now, "wyif" "wyib" is the newest stitch i am tackling now. These are the absolute best instruction i received for "wyib" and ?wyif" I have been looking for instructions but couldn't find clear ones. thank you so much. now i can get back to my knitting

Erin said...

I have been doing searches on explanations for 'wyif', and for me, your was VERY good. Thanks so much for the help!

Liz said...

Thank-you for this. It helped so much! Explained it perfectly :)

Pat Salvatini said...

Thank you for your simple explanation of what "wyif" means. I've been struggling with a pattern for days and just could not figure out why I was having so much trouble. Now I realize I was doing the pattern completely wrong. Your directions were clear, precise, and simple to follow. THANK YOU!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. I'm just a beginner and this was really helpful to me. Clearly written and well explained.

Anonymous said...

My pattern states to. K2tog but don't slip the stitches off needle and then knit the first stitch and slip the stitches
I don't understand how to do this
Thank you

Cindy G said...

Hi Anonymous, sound like your pattern is giving you direction for a Right Wist (like a little, mini two st cable)

Insert needle as if you were going to knit two tegether, and draw the yarn loop through but do not drop the two stitches from the left needle. Your right needle will have a loop of yarn on it.

Now put the point of the right needle between those 2 sts still on the left needle, inserting it into the st closest to the end as for a regular knit stitch. Pull a yarn loop through. There are now two loops of yarn on the right needle.

Drop the two stitches from the left hand needle.