Knitting a Better SSK

Knitting the modified ssk

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Those left leaning decreases are pesky. Some knitters favor the slip a stitch, slip another stitch, then knit them together, also known as the ssk. Some knitters work a slip a stitch, knit a stitch, pass the slipped stitch over, also known as the skp. For some knitters those slipped stitches are happening knit-wise and for others those slipped stitches are happening purl-wise and its no wonder a hapless beginning knitter gets confused.

Why so much fuss and uproar over those left leaning decreases? Because none of them are quite right, that’s why. What every persnickety knitter wants is a left leaning decrease that is as smooth and pretty as the right leaning decrease, also known as k2tog. They aren’t getting it. Let’s all just admit that those left leaners are a pain in the butt.

And so knitting addicts such as myself are always coming up with tricks and special maneuvers to try and improve on the traditional ssk/skp. Search the internet and you’ll find them. But be warned some of those versions are so complicated they will make your brain hurt.

I have my own, a modified ssk, and I don’t think its of the brain hurting variety. The modification is in how the second of the slipped stitches is slipped. Is my modified ssk a perfect match to its right leaning brother? Nope. But it is a good deal closer than a traditional ssk. And my method doesn’t require you to work stitches on the wrong side, drop and pick up stitches, or contort yourself into an advanced yoga position to get it done.

It improves on the traditional ssk while being easy and that’s what I need.

Knitting a better left leaning decrease – a modified ssk


Not too bad right?

  1. slip the first stitch as if to knit
  2. slip the second as if to purl through the back loop while stretching it a bit
  3. put the left needle tip into the front of the slipped stitches and knit them together


The little sample piece in the video is made with Malabrigo worsted. I think it has great stitch definition and definitely deserves smooth, pretty left leaning decreases. But then, Malabrigo worsted is one of my favorite yarns.

Malabrigo worsted at Craftsy

The pattern, if you want to work up a sample and follow along, is:

Cast on 27 stitches

Row 1: k2, *YO, k1, ssk, k1, k2tog, k1, YO, k1* work 3 times, k1

Rows 2: k2, p25, k2

Repeat Rows 1 & 2.


I hope you’ll give this decrease a try. I think you’ll like it. And if you like free tutorials, I got more! Here is the big collection of how-to posts for knitting, crocheting, and handspinning. Enjoy!


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8 Comments on "Knitting a Better SSK"

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Thank you so much for the wonderful video! As I’ve mentioned before I’m a 30 yr crocheter determined to teach myself to knit. Your videos have given me the confidence to try. I have several projects under my belt. Each new project includes a couple of new techniques or stiched. The SSK and K2tog were next. Being a Geek by nature I have to understand “why” before I truly understand “how”. You explained my confusion with the left a d right. Keep up your wonferful over zealous goal is A pair of sock for winter

Susan Rose

Hi, learning knitting the English/Australian way this stitch is k2tog tbl-(through back of loop), when I first ran into a SSK had absolutely no idea and had to read abbreviation explanations, a novelty lol.
The end result looked the same to me so continued my way, however your variation does look better, will try to remember to use it on next lace project, and be consistent! Thank you.


That’s the best left leaning decrease I’ve found so far. Thank you.