How To Decrease Knitting (6 Ways)

THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS THAT SUPPORT HANDY LITTLE ME CONTENT AND FREE PATTERNS.

In this blog post, you will learn how to decrease knitting in 6 ways.

Learning how to decrease stitches in knitting is a great skill to have for any knitter.

It might be a little bit of a challenge if you are just starting out, but it’s not common in basic knitting patterns like a simple scarf; it’s more common in garments and some advanced accessories.

How to decrease knitting 6 ways

Why Do You Have To Decrease Stitches In Knitting? 

There are several reasons why decreases are used in knitting:

  1. Shaping: Decreases are often employed to shape the fabric and create curves or angles. For example, when making a garment like a sweater, decreases are used at the waist to create an hourglass shape or at the armholes to shape the sleeve caps.
  2. Necklines: Decreases are frequently used to shape necklines, such as V-necks or round necks. By decreasing stitches at specific intervals, the fabric gradually narrows to form the desired neckline shape.
  3. Garment Construction: Decreases are used in various parts of garment construction. They can be used to shape the shoulders, create sleeve caps, shape the crown of a hat, or form the fingers of gloves or mittens.
  4. Pattern Design: Decreases can also be utilized to create specific design elements within a pattern. They can form decorative motifs, lace knitting patterns, or texture variations.
  5. Socks and Toe Construction: In sock knitting, decreases are commonly used to shape the toe. They create a tapered and rounded shape by gradually reducing the number of stitches.

Decreases are an essential technique in knitting as they allow for the versatility and customization of the knitted fabric. 

By strategically decreasing stitches, you can create intricate designs, achieve the desired fit, and add visual interest to your knitting projects.

Newsletter
Get the latest in your inbox!

Weekly news, free patterns, tutorials, and more.

Oversized Cardigan 4 views
Raglan cardigan with decreases to shape the shoulders and sleeves. – Cardigan Knitting Pattern (Stay Home + Be Cozy)

What Is The Best Decrease In Knitting?

There are several common types of decreases in knitting patterns:

1. Knit Two Together (K2tog)

How to K2tog knitting

2. Slip Slip Knit (SSK)

How to SSK knitting

3. Purl Two Together (P2tog)

How to P2tog knitting

4. Slip Slip Purl (SSP)

  • This decrease is a variation of SSK used on the wrong side (purl side) of the fabric.
  •  You slip the next stitch on the left-hand needle purlwise, slip the following stitch in the same manner, and then insert the left-hand needle into the front loops of both slipped stitches and purl them together. 
  • View A Video Tutorial Here.
How to SSP knitting

5. Centered Double Decrease (CDD)

  • This decrease is used to decrease three stitches into one at the center of a row or round.
  • It is often represented as “CDD” in knitting patterns.
  •  The specific instructions for a central double decrease can vary, but it typically involves slipping two stitches together knitwise, knitting the next stitch, and then passing the slipped stitches over the knit stitch.
  • View A Video Tutorial Here.
How to CDD knitting

6. Slip one, Knit The Next Two Stitches Together Pass Slipped Stitch Over, (S1 K2tog, PSSO)

  • This is a left-leaning decrease that involves creating a slip stitch knitwise, knitting the next two stitches together, and then passing the slipped stitch over the knit stitch.
  • It is commonly represented as “S1, K2tog, PSSO” in knitting patterns.
  • The specific decrease method used in a knitting pattern will depend on the desired outcome and the design instructions provided.
  • It’s essential to carefully follow the pattern instructions to achieve the intended shaping or design element.
  • View A Video Tutorial Here.
How to sl1, P2tog, PSSO knitting

How To Decrease Knitting On Circular Needles?

Decreasing stitches on a circular needle follows similar principles as decreasing on straight needles. 

The main difference is that you’ll work in the round instead of back and forth. 

knitting on circular needles

How Do You Decrease At The Beginning Of A Row In Knitting?

To decrease at the beginning of a row in knitting, you can use the following technique:

Identify the decrease method specified in your knitting pattern.

The usual way to decrease at the beginning of a row is the “Knit Two Together” (K2tog).

When decreasing at the beginning of a row, it’s essential to consider the pattern’s specific instructions and any special requirements for maintaining stitch patterns or design elements.

Refer to your knitting pattern for the appropriate decrease method and any variations needed for decreasing at the beginning of a row.

sweater on the needles

How Do You Decrease Multiple Stitches In Knitting?

When you need to decrease multiple stitches in knitting, there are a few techniques you can use depending on the desired outcome and the specific knitting pattern. 

Here are a couple of common methods for decreasing multiple stitches: 

1. Decreasing by Knitting or Purling Multiple Stitches Together

  • For a right-slanting decrease: To decrease multiple stitches in a right-leaning manner, you can knit or purl several stitches together. For example, you can perform a “K3tog” (knit three together) by inserting the right-hand needle through the next three stitches on the left-hand needle and knitting them together as if they were a single stitch. This decreases three stitches into one and creates a right-leaning decrease.
  • For a left-slanting decrease: Similarly, you can purl or knit multiple stitches together to decrease them in a left-leaning manner.
  • For instance, you can execute a “P3tog” (purl three together) by inserting the right-hand needle through the next three stitches on the left-hand needle and purling them together. This decreases three stitches into one and creates a left-leaning decrease.

2. Combination of Individual Decreases

  • Another approach to decreasing multiple stitches is to use a combination of individual decreases such as K2tog, SSK, or their variations. 
  • You can space these decreases evenly across the row to achieve the desired stitch reduction and shaping.
  • It’s important to carefully follow the instructions provided in your knitting pattern for the specific decrease technique and the number of stitches to decrease. 
  • Additionally, it’s a good practice to keep track of your stitch count and check your work regularly to ensure accuracy.
  • Remember, the specific decrease method used will depend on the pattern and the desired outcome, so always refer to the instructions provided in your knitting pattern for the appropriate technique to use.
Chunky cardigan pieces
Decreases are used for shaping this chunky cardigan knitting pattern.

What Is The Difference Between Right-Leaning And Left-Leaning Decreases?

In knitting, right-leaning and left-leaning decrease refers to the direction in which the stitches slant when they are decreased. 

These decreases are used to shape the fabric and create various design elements.

Here’s the difference between the two:

Right-Leaning Decreases

  • Right-leaning decreases are stitches that slant to the right when viewed from the right side of the fabric. 
  • The most common right-leaning decrease is the “Knit Two Together” (K2tog).
  • When you perform a K2tog decrease, you insert the right-hand needle through the next two stitches on the left-hand needle and knit them together.
  • This results in a stitch that slants diagonally to the right.

Left-Leaning Decreases

  • Left-leaning decreases are stitches that slant to the left when viewed from the right side of the fabric. 
  • The most common left-leaning decrease is the “Slip, Slip, Knit” (SSK).
  • To execute an SSK decrease, you slip the next stitch on the left hand needle knitwise, slip the following stitch knit wise, then insert the left needle into the front loops of both slipped stitches and knit them together through the back loop.
  • This produces a stitch that slants diagonally to the left.
  • By using a combination of right-leaning and left-leaning decreases in your knitting project, you can shape the fabric symmetrically and create balanced designs. 
  • These decreases are often used together in patterns to create pleasing visual effects, maintain stitch counts, and achieve the desired shaping and design elements.
Cardigan on mannequin
Raglan shaping decreases close up.

How To Calculate The Number of Decreases In Knitting?

Calculating the number of decreased stitches in knitting depends on a few factors, such as the desired shaping, the stitch pattern, and the specific instructions given in your knitting pattern.

Here’s a general approach to calculating decreased stitches:

  1. Determine the desired stitch count: Determine the final number of stitches you want to achieve after the decreases. This can be determined by the size and shape of the garment or the specific design element you’re creating.
  2. Calculate the number of stitches to decrease: Subtract the desired stitch count from the initial stitch count. For example, if you have 100 stitches initially and want to end up with 80 stitches, you would need to decrease 20 stitches.
  3. Consider the decrease method: Determine the decrease method specified in your knitting pattern, such as K2tog (knit two together) or SSK (slip, slip, knit). Note that different decrease methods may result in different stitch counts. Make sure to follow the pattern instructions for the specific decrease method.
  4. Calculate the decreased frequency: Divide the total number of stitches to decrease by the number of decrease points specified in the pattern. For example, if you need to decrease 20 stitches and the pattern instructs to decrease at every 4th stitch, you would have 20 ÷ 4 = 5 decrease points.
  5. Distribute the decrease points: Determine how to distribute the decrease points across your knitting project. This will depend on the desired shaping and the pattern instructions. For example, if you have 5 decreased points and you’re working in the round, you could evenly space them throughout each round.

Remember that these steps provide a general framework for calculating decreased stitches.

Always refer to the specific instructions given in your knitting pattern, as they may include additional guidance or variations for calculating decreased stitches based on the design and shaping requirements.

Blue cardigan making up step 3
Cardigan shaping for the sleeves and shoulders. – Outlander Claire’s Blue Cardigan Knitting Pattern

More Knitting Tutorials 

If you are a new maker, ready to learn all about knitting and create your first stitch work, check out the knitting lessons to find informative blog posts and video tutorials. 

Including how to knit the garter stitch (view – how to knit garter stitch), how to knit the purl stitch (view – how to knit the purl stitch (for beginners + a video tutorial)), how to knit the stockinette stitch (view – how to knit stockinette stitch (for beginners)), how to do yarn overs, and many, many more!

To learn how to add a new stitch (or stitches) to your knitting, check out this post – How To Increase Stitches In Knitting

Happy Knitting!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *