Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life

SSK, SKPO or K2tog tbl?


I have to say that until I started studying lace, I never really noticed that there were so many ways of creating a left slanting decrease (\), whereas a right slant (/) is always done using K2tog.

Then the questions came:  Is there a difference between the look of a SSK, SKPO and Ktog tbl?  Why are there so many different ways of making this decrease? And (just to be a devil), what happens if you slip purlwise instead of knitwise?

In the end, I decided to do an exercise to see:

lace decreases

The exercise has yielded interesting results.  As you can see, there is a certain difference to the stitches, but not too much.

The conclusion is that it must be a matter of designer preference or convenience as to why a certain method is selected. A SKPO looks the same however you slip the stitches.  SSK needs to be done properly (stitches slipped knitwise) if you want a clean-looking stitch that mirrors the K2tog panel on the other side.  A purlwise SSK or a K2tog through the back loops will give you a much thicker looking slant, I think due to the twisted stitches.  

Just to test my findings, I did one more exercise:

SKPO and K2tog tbl

I’m afraid that my camera does not seem to like photographing detail in this wool (I think I’m going to have to change my choice of test yarn to a worsted spun that produces a crisper look).  I’ve upped the contrast significantly to show up the lace twists, so I hope it looks on your screen.    

The left slants in the two left hand panels are produced using a SKPO.  The right hand panels are produced using K2tog tbl.

The size of the YO holes are the same in both techniques.  The K2tog tbl produces a slightly straighter and fatter slant than the SKPO.  But really, there’s not much difference.

My conclusion is that K2tog tbl is the same as SSK and SKPO, but you might want not want to use it if you are producing a netting-style lace, as the thicker slant is much more noticeable when used to produce a continuous line.

In terms of how this has affected my knitting, I am now able to read a lace chart without having to constantly check the key.  A significant improvement from my point of view!


Author: kiwiyarns

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12 thoughts on “SSK, SKPO or K2tog tbl?

  1. I was overjoyed when I realized that my chart reading had come so far as to understand not only did the pattern writer want a left slanting decrease, but that I could choose the one I preferred to do best (SSK, as it happens). So much of our knitting is only closely examined by us as we knit, so if the result/effect of the pattern is maintained and we are happy with the way we’ve executed it, both during the knitting and after at an admiring distance, I think it’s freeing to do what you’ve done and play and see and experiment.

  2. I think some of those decreases are more important depending on if you are transitioning from one element to another. But I agree, there isn’t too much of a difference in panels of lace.

  3. After reading your posts about lace knitting, I purchased the lace books you have, and both arrived late in the week. I am looking forward to taking the ‘scary’ out of lace knitting, and, if I can learn to read a chart without having to constantly refer to the key, that will be a bonus 😀

  4. That was really interesting, thank you for doing the swatches and showing us the difference. I think it will make a difference to my knitting as to what choice I make in future patterns. I too will one day attempt more lace and challenge myself to finer yarns and lacier patterns. 🙂

  5. I’ve wondered the same thing so thanks for doing the swatches for me!! ; )

  6. Looking forward to your post on k3tog, cdd, etc!

  7. You can also do an “improved” SSK by slipping the first stitch as if to knit and the second stitch as if to purl, then knit them together through the back loop. The completed stitch lays a bit flatter. ( I don’t think there’s much difference between that and slipping both stitches as if to knit, but I do like the way my needle moves from a slipped knit to purl. The decrease process seems much smoother and faster.

  8. Really interesting study!

  9. You are clever to break it all down that way. I agree that it’s all about preference.