Color Play: Slip Sliding Away

In knitscene Summer 2017, we discussed simple stripes, the easiest way to add color to a knitted fabric. Let’s build on that theme and add a new technique to our stripe knitting: slip stitches!

Consider what happens when only a few stitches are worked per row, with the intermediary stitches merely slipped from the left needle to the right needle without working them. Horizontal strands of yarn called “floats” are created everywhere stitches have been slipped. A knitter can intentionally place these floats on the public side of the knitting to make strikingly unusual fabrics.

slip stitch knit

The Technique

Nothing could be easier than slipping stitches: Just insert the right needle into the first stitch on the left needle purlwise—in the front from right to left as if you were about to purl the stitch—and transfer it onto the right needle. In this first illustration, the yarn is kept to the wrong side of the fabric.

slip stitch knit

Tips

• Be sure to maintain an even tension while slipping stitches in these patterns. If you pull the yarn too tightly, your floats will be too short to comfortably manipulate on later rows.
• Most knitters prefer working these types of patterns with needles larger than those recommended for stockinette stitch with the same yarn, since the slip stitches tend to pull the fabric in a bit widthwise.
• Feel free to experiment with multicolor yarns, but be sure to choose a sharply contrasting color for your other yarn; otherwise, the pattern will get lost.
• There’s no need to cut the yarn after each two-row stripe. To minimize the number of yarn tails left to deal with later, simply carry the yarns loosely up the side of the fabric as you go.

To create the interesting patterns we’re discussing in this issue, the stitches are slipped with the yarn held to the public side of the fabric. Be sure to return the yarn to the wrong side of the work before knitting or purling a stitch that follows a slip stitch.

slip stitch knit

Half Linen Stitch

In this mottled stitch pattern, alternate stitches are slipped on right-side rows. Because the yarn is brought to the public side before every slipped stitch, little floats appear on the fabric (Photo 1, below).

With A, CO an even number of sts.
Row 1 (RS) With B, *k1, sl 1 pwise wyf; rep from * to end.
Row 2 (WS) With B, purl.
Row 3 With A, k2, *sl 1 pwise wyf, k1; rep from * to end.
Row 4 With A, purl.
Rep Rows 1–4 for patt.

On the right-side rows you will feel like you’re doing a “knit one, purl one rib” because it has the same rhythm, but resist the urge to purl. You’re slipping every other stitch in this case.

True Linen Stitch

This pattern resembles a woven fabric and is fun to knit in two or three colors (Photo 2, below).

Linen Stitch with Two Colors

With A, CO an even number of sts.
Row 1 (RS) With B, *sl 1 pwise wyf, k1; rep from * to end.
Row 2 (WS) With B, *sl 1 pwise wyb, p1; rep from * to end.
Row 3 With A, rep Row 1.
Row 4 With A, rep Row 2.
Rep Rows 1–4 for patt.

Linen Stitch with Three Colors

Follow the pattern above, but work two-row stripes in each of three colors, making a six-row repeat (Photo 3, below). Or, work one-row stripes of each of three colors for a totally different look (Photo 4, below).

slip stitch knit

slip stitch knit

Manipulating Floats

Slipping several stitches at a time creates long floats that can be used to create unique effects. Work to the middle of the float(s) two or more rows below, then insert the tip of the right needle under the float(s) from bottom to top and knit the next stitch on the left needle, incorporating the float(s) into the stitch.

Brocade Fabric

The fabric in Photo 5 has both interesting colorwork and texture.

With A, CO a multiple of 6 + 3 sts.
Row 1 (WS) With A, p2, *sl 5 pwise wyb, p1; rep from * to last st, p1.
Row 2 (WS) With B, knit.
Row 3 With B, purl.
Row 4 With A, k1, sl 3 pwise wyb, *insert right needle from bottom to top under float from Row 1, then knit next st on left needle, sl 5 pwise wyb; rep from * to last 5 sts, insert right needle from bottom to top under float from Row 1, then knit next st on left needle, sl 3 pwise wyb, k1.
Row 5 With A, p1, sl 3 pwise wyb, *p1, sl 5 pwise wyb; rep
from * to last 5 sts, p1, sl 3 pwise wyb, p1.
Row 6 With B, knit.
Row 7 With B, purl.
Row 8 With A, k1, *insert right needle from bottom to top under float from Row 5, then knit next st on left needle, sl 5 pwise wyb; rep from * to last 2 sts, insert right needle under float from Row 5, then knit next st on left needle, k1.
Rep Rows 1–8 for patt.

Perfect your slip-stitch skills while knitting the Arkins Poncho. Not only will you learn a fun new technique, but you’ll also have an on-trend accessory to keep you warm this autumn!


Melissa Leapman knits and designs in New York City.


Slip stitch knit with these great resources!

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