Today, let's talk about how to slip a stitch in knitting.
Slip stitch knitting is an easy knitting technique that’s used to create interesting stitch textures or colorful mosaic patterns.
In this knitting tutorial, I’ll break down how slip stitch knitting works, how to do a slip a stitch, and share a few knitting patterns to try for yourself.
Let’s get started by talking about the different knitting techniques you’ll learn here today.
Slip Stitch Knitting Techniques
For slip stitch knitting, you just have to know three things. One, how to knit and how to purl. Two, be able to move stitches from your left to right needle without working them. Three, where to place your working yarn. That’s it.
Now, let's look at the different ways to do it.
Slip Stitch Purlwise (Sl1p)
We begin with this particular knitting technique because it is the most common method used.
This is how you do it.
To slip a stitch purlwise, insert the right needle through the stitch on the left needle (as if to purl), and transfer it onto the right needle. There are no changes to your working yarn and no other adjustments are necessary. If situated correctly, the right leg will be in front of the needle (as it normally would).
When you sl1p, it doesn’t affect the orientation of the stitch and doesn’t create twisted stitches. Also, the technique remains the same in both knitting in the round and knitting back and forth.
Finally, if your knitting pattern tells you to slip a stitch (sl st) but doesn’t specify how, you’d slip purlwise (sl1p).
This Electric Love Cowl pattern uses this particular technique (sl1p). You can try it for yourself while learning more about mosaic knitting.
Get the Electric Love Mosaic Cowl pattern here.
Try Manos del Uruguay Alegria yarn for this knitting project.
Slip Stitch Knitwise (Sl1k)
When it comes to slipping a stitch knitwise (sl1k), you are changing the orientation of the stitch, which is different from the purlwise version. Here you are twisting the stitches, which can create a unique feature of your knitting pattern.
To sl1k, insert the right knitting needle into the first stitch as if to knit. Then, slip this stitch to the right hand needle without knitting it. You now have a twisted knit stitch. When done correctly, the left leg of the stitch will be in front of the needle.
Now we're going to one-up this knitting technique and add in working yarn placement as a feature or as an element to your knitting project.
First we’ll discuss working with yarn in back (wyib) and later, with yarn in front (wyif). Finally, we'll discuss and clarify the terms "yarn back" (yb) and "yarn forward" (yf or yfwd) in relation to this subject. Let’s begin.
With Yarn in Back (Wyib)
When the knitting patterns says “with yarn in back” (wyib), it’s pretty literal. The pattern is telling you that the extra yarn between slipped stitches will be carried in back.
Sometimes this extra yarn will be kept hidden. Sometimes it will add a feature to the knitting pattern.
Let's jump right in and discuss slipping stitches purlwise and knitwise with yarn in back (wyib) and see what we can see.
Slip Stitch Purlwise with Yarn in Back (Sl1p wyib)
When it comes to purl stitches, you should know the working yarn is in the front, but when it comes to slip stitches, the rules can change.
When reading the instruction “slip stitch purlwise with yarn in back” or “sl1p wyib”, you have to realize that there are two small steps to this.
First, to sl1p wyib, hold the working yarn in back as if you were about to knit the next stitch. Second, you’d slip the stitch as if to purl. Then you’d continue the knitting pattern as instructed moving your working yarn as needed.
Using this two-step instruction often creates a unique pattern stitch or decorative element to your knitting project by creating a running strand of yarn or an elongated stitch.
This knit hat is a great example of an elongated stitch created by slipped stitches. You can find more free hat knitting patterns here.
Explore this knitting technique with the June Hat pattern.
Try Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted yarn for this knitting pattern.
You may also see this knitting abbreviation written as slip 1 with yarn back (sl1 wyb), but this is not the standard as accepted by the Craft Yarn Council (CYC).
It’s easy to create your own version of knitting slang, or shorthand, but for the sake of consistency, I’ll stick to “wyib”. More on knitting abbreviations later on in this blog post.
Slip Stitch Knitwise with Yarn in Back (Sl1k wyib)
To slip a stitch knitwise with yarn in back (sl1k wyib), hold the working yarn in back as if you were to knit the next stitch. Next, slip the next stitch as if to knit, and continue on with your knitting pattern.
Again, you may see a pattern written using “wyb” instead of “wyib”. The meaning of “wyb” is the same as “with yarn in back”. I only mention it to eliminate any confusion.
With Yarn in Front (Wyif)
When it comes to patterns with instructions indicating “with yarn in front” (wyif), this means the yarn between slipped stitches will be carried in front. In this case, the floats are carried in front where they are intentionally visible.
Let’s break this down.
Slip Stitch Purlwise with Yarn in Front (Sl1p wyif)
To slip a stitch purlwise with yarn in front (sl1p wyif), first check where the working yarn is. To sl1p wyif, the yarn should be in the front purl position. If it’s not, move it.
Then, slip the next stitch as if to purl onto your right knitting needle, and continue with your knitting pattern.
Try this technique with the Brighter Days Hat pattern.
Slip Stitch Knitwise with Yarn in Front (Sl1k wyif)
To slip a stitch knitwise with yarn in front (sl1p wyif), the working yarn should be in front, as if you were going to purl. Now, slip the next stitch as if to knit onto your right knitting needle, and continue knitting.
The Emerald Song Headband, shown above, uses this particular technique. Try it for yourself.
Get the free Emerald Song Headband pattern here.
Yarn Back and Yarn Forward
Sometimes you’ll see “with yarn in back” written as “yarn back”(yb). The same goes for “yarn forward” (yf or yfwd), which could be used as “with yarn in front”. It all depends on the written instructions of the knitting pattern, what the stitches are supposed to do, and what kind of stitch texture it intends to create.
This is just to let you know that you may see these knitting abbreviations used differently with different knitters, designers, and in the U.S. and UK. Not everyone follows the CYC’s knitting standards, but the knitting pattern should explain the abbreviations used.
Before we move on to knitting abbreviations, I want to make one thing clear. A yarn forward (yfwd or yf) is not to be confused with creating a yarn over (yo). The former is about yarn placement, the latter involves a knitting increase. These are two separate actions entirely.
Slip Stitch Knitting Abbreviations
Based on the subject of this knitting blog post, there are several knitting abbreviations you should know. These are also the ways you’ll see them written in knitting patterns. Click here to see a complete list of knitting abbreviations.
I’ve written them out below and included a handy infographic for you to pin, share and save.
|sl1k||slip one (1) knitwise|
|sl1p||slip one (1) purlwise|
|sl st||slip stitch|
|wyib||with yarn in back|
|wyif||with yarn in front|
|yf or yfwd||yarn forward|
That wraps up our discussion on how to slip a stitch in knitting. I hope you feel more confident about this knitting technique. If you have a minute, I'd love to hear your experience. Drop me a line and tell me all about it.
I hope you found a little knitting inspiration as well. If you need more, just be sure to check out my knitting patterns page for more ideas.
Mary Lee Agee says
Christina - as a fairly new knitters I make my share of mistakes. It stops my progress until I can find someone to “fix” it. I can fix simple knit and purl stitches but it ends there.
How will I ever learn to fix things on my own ? It’s frustrating to have to stop so often
Hi Mary Lee! Thank you so much for reaching out to me.
I completely understand where you're coming from as I'm a self-taught knitter...and still learning, too! I know your frustrations all too well.
When I was first learning to knit, I struggled A LOT but I'm a very determined person. Some would even go so far as to say "stubborn". It's a gift, really.
When it comes to making mistakes in your knitting, even the most skilled knitters make mistakes so don't be too hard on yourself. It simply comes with the territory. Just remind yourself to be patient.
For me, when I'm not feeling particularly patient or can't figure something out, I know to put my knitting down and do something else. This helps me to recalibrate my brain. It's often during these times that my subconscious works out the problem while also improving my mood. I don't go back to my knitting until I feel positive and ready to try again. Trying again and again is what creates muscle memory, which secretly tells you what to look for next time so you make fewer mistakes the more you knit.
I believe in you so please don't give up as it sounds like you really want to learn. And if you have questions or need help, just reach out. You can reach me at: email@example.com . I'll help if I can.
Best of luck! ~ Christina
Lee Agee says
Hi Christina - thank you for your encouragement but I still have the question ( if I may try to ask again).
I wonder how people learn how to “FIX” the mistakes when they happen.
Especially on the more ‘tricky’ stitches.
Thanks again - Lee Agee
Hello again. You don't mention specifics so I can only give you general information.
I'd say that learning to fix mistakes when they happen comes from learning to read your knitting and checking frequently to make sure you haven't made an error or dropped a stitch, etc.
Fixing it will come from reverse engineering a stitch so you know how it connects to others, or from knitting back (tinking), or worse, ripping it back (frogging).
All of these steps will slow you down, too, but if you start slow and pay close attention, you can increase your speed over time and are bound to make fewer mistakes with more practice.
I hope this helps.
Mary Lee says
Thank you for taking the time to help me with questions. I have asked this many times and this is the best and most insightful answer I have gotten.
It will come from trying …. Just like learning a new stitch in the first place