Say hello to S3YP3 (it's a left-leaning decrease, not a Star Wars character)

I've been busy with a new pattern. It wasn't planned, but as soon as the sketch of an idea was doodled in my notebook (the first step for all my designs) I knew exactly how it should look and needed to knit it. By searching various stitch dictionaries and resources for ideas, I found an existing stitch pattern that seemed to work. So when I embarked on this "quick little project" I thought it would be a case of doing some math, fiddling with my chart to make the stitch pattern fit and flow* with the other elements, and that would be that.

Leaf Collector's Mitts preview

As it turned out, my swatch revealed something that many other knitters have known for a long time, but which I'd never realised. You see, the design includes right- and left-leaning double decreases. In the stitch dictionary, the right-leaning decrease is made with a simple 'k3tog' (knit three together), and the counterpart a 'sk2p' (slip one, knit two together, pass the slip stitch over) and I've used that stitch plenty of times without noticing anything odd about it. But swatching a project where 'sk2p' was repeated over several rows, it became apparent that it's a bit of a tricky one - not because it's hard to do, but because it doesn't look the way you might expect. It's inconsistent - sometimes loose and sloppy - unless you are very careful with the tension and don't put the needle too far into it, and all sorts of fudges.

And it wasn't just me. A bit of research showed that this is a known phenomenon! My searches turned up various instances of knitters looking for better alternatives as they were not happy with it. Part of my ethos is that my patterns are accessible to beginner/intermediate knitters, so this would not do at all. I needed a more reliable stitch!

I tried various other options for a left-slanting double decrease but nothing was right. Finally I resorted to June Hemmons Hyatt (you'd think I'd know to go there first) and came across the alternative idea of making an extra stitch and then removing three stitches. There wasn't an abbreviation, just a description "wrap yarn and pull three slipped stitches over new stitch". I tried it. It worked! (What would I do without that book?) 

So the new pattern includes a stitch I've abbreviated to 's3yp3', and I've taken some photos for the pattern which I'll share here too (and oops - the last one isn't in focus!): 

1. Start by slipping three stitches as if to knit, 
2. Put the working yarn over the needle to create a new stitch
3. Pass the three slipped stitches over the new stitch (JHH says it can be all at once, but I found passing them individually gave a nicer result) 

's3yp3' left-slanting double decrease (from The Principles of Knitting)


And there you have it. It's worked out much better than the original stitch did, and I'm sure that it'll be easier for newer knitters to get a great result using this. I'd love to know if you've used this stitch before, or if you've even noticed that k3tog and sk2p look so different, despite the logic that they should be mirror images.

If you're interested to see more of the pattern, it's being tested at the moment and will be available very soon, but there's already a little peek on the Patterns pageEdit: Read more about the pattern here. It is available to download from Ravelry.

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*My husband is a (TV and Film) Editor and he says the sign of a good edit is that you never notice it at all - it all seems to flow so perfectly, you only notice when something feels wrong. My recent dabblings into design have shown me that this is definitely the case with knitting. Something works well when you don't notice how one thing moves into another (eg how a rib transitions into the pattern, or how one stitch pattern becomes another). These are the things that take a lot of time to get right, but that most people won't notice.

4 comments

  1. Great post. It's details like this that make a great designer and pattern I think. Thanks for the reminder to get that book out again too!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Danni. It's such a great book, isn't it!?! I must remember to go there FIRST next time, rather than googling for answers :)

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  2. Clever, you. You had my head spinning a bit as I doing think I've used that type of increase before. Hooray on finding an easier and neater way.

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  3. Slipped as if to knit? The pic shows it purled I think?

    ReplyDelete

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