All Aboard for Slip Stitch Knitting! Take the Fast Track to Colorwork

When it comes to stranded colorwork, my skills are best described as “needs improvement.” But I’m in love with one way of knitting colorwork that doesn’t have me in a tangle: slip stitch knitting, that wonderfully simple technique using one yarn at a time. Slip stitch patterns ask, “What would happen if you just skipped those stitches instead of changing colors?”

Effortless Color Knitting

Knitting the Trolley Tracks Infinity Scarf was the best of all possible worlds: a colorful, graphic slip stitch knitting pattern that uses six happy yarn colors but doesn’t need stranding. It was as easy to knit as a striped cowl but much more interesting. I needed to pay attention to which stitches to slip and which to work, so it wasn’t quite movie knitting, but I didn’t wind up with a puckery mess, either.

Slip stitch knitting looks great as texture even when you only work one color in the whole project, but it sings when you use several colors. Faina Goberstein, one of the authors of The Art of Slip Stitch Knitting, explains why she loves slip-stitch patterns: “By using two or more colors and basic knitting skills, you can achieve stunning fabric that gives the impression of requiring much more advanced skills and time-consuming work than it really does. Slip-stitch colorwork is easier to work than stranded (for example, Fair Isle) colorwork and can be worked in the round or in rows—no steeking required!”

You’re Out of Order!

One of the things I love about knitting is a certain mathematical orderliness: Begin at the beginning, work across, and unless you make an intentional change (or a mistake), you have the same number of stitches in the same order. But sometimes bending those usual “rules” is delightful. Cables are the most common example—work groups of stitches out of order, and you get a rope or some other raised design.

Skip stitch knitting uses a similar principle to cables, except that instead of holding stitches to knit them out of order on the same row, you hold them to work on a different row. One part of the knitting gets longer, but another stays the same length. Done regularly, increases pull the the fabric up so that it develops horizontal tucks or gathers.

(Photos by Harper Point Photography)

Explore the Fun of Slip Stitch Knitting!