The SSK decrease is a tricky manoeuvre and it often ends up elongated or distorted compared to its companion, the "knit two together". The problem comes down to the way in which the SSK is worked, so I am going to suggest an alternative approach - working the decrease over two rows not just one!
See if you like this "Two-Row SSK" as we continue our Tutorial/Knit-along for the BYOB Market Bag.
So what is the SSK decrease?
When you decrease two stitches into one, the result either leans to the right or the left.
The 'knit two together / k2tog' decrease goes to the right. This is a simple stitch and very neat to work. You insert your needle into two stitches instead of just one and then knit them together.
So the technique is very familiar and you don't have to prepare the stitches before working them. Here's a video showing how to work the k2tog.
However, when you come to work the 'Slip Slip Knit / SSK' decrease this is not the case. If you are at the right point in your BYOB Market Bag and have finished the lower band, then you can try this as you read about it. Change to the larger-sized needles (I used 5.5mm/US #9 size) and start the first line of the openwork pattern:
Rnd 1: *K2tog, yo, k1, yo, SSK; rep from * to end of rnd.
So, insert your needle into the first two sts and knit them just as if they were one stitch.
Then, bring your yarn to the front under the needle and back over the top ready to work the next stitch. This will insert a 'Yarn-Over / yo' and make a lacy hole at this point. Knit the next stitch and then make another yarn over as before.
Now insert the needle into the next stitch as though you are going to knit it but just slip it from the left-hand (LH) needle to the right. Do the same again with the next stitch. Pass these two stitches back to the LH needle.
Insert your knitting needle into the back of these two sts and knit them together through the back loops (k2tog tbl). This is the SSK decrease - you slip one stitch, slip another, then k2tog tbl.
You can probably see that you can streamline that a bit and not have to actually pass the stitches back to the LH needle to complete the second part of the working, but even so it is a lot of moving of stitches before you get to actually knit them together. Here's a video showing how you usually work the SSK.
Work around the whole round trying to get this decrease as neat as possible.
The key part about the slipping of the stitches knitwise is to change the way that they are sitting on the needle - ie to change the 'mount' of the stitch. Before knitting them together, we need to make them sit facing backwards. However, you can prepare for this on the row below. Try this:
Next rnd: *Knit 3 sts by bringing the yarn under the needle in the usual way, then knit 2 sts bringing the yarn over the needle; rep from * to end of rnd.
So that's [k3 under, k2 over] all the way around. You will see that in each group of 5 stitches you now have three stitches that face to the L (coloured green in these two diagrams) and 2 stitches that face to the R (coloured blue).
It is a little tricky to get your hands to work the knit stitch the reverse way at first, but persevere and soon it will be smooth and quick. You probably even remember doing this when you were first learning to knit and discovered that your stitches weren't always facing the right way!
Then your next row will be:
Next rnd: *K2tog, yo, k1, yo, k2tog tbl; rep from * to end of rnd.
Much simpler and neater. The stitches do not need to be separately manipulated, the k2tog and the k2tog tbl are both quick to work, and the stitches are not pulled or distorted out of shape.
And you can use this technique wherever you encounter an SSK decrease. Just note all the SSK's in your pattern chart and highlight the two stitches in the row below. Work them 'backwards' to get them mounted facing to the right and then your SSK will be neat and easy on the subsequent row.
Eastern Uncrossed Knitting
Some of you may by now have realized that you have seen this wrapping technique before. In fact, it is thought that stitches were always worked this way when knitting was first invented! It even has a name in knitting, as this method is called "Eastern Uncrossed Knitting".
So, in the instructions below, I am going to designate this stitch as the "Eastern Uncrossed Knit stitch' or 'EU-k' for short. We will work 3 regular knit stitches and then 2 of these EU-knit stitches as we work around the bag.
So, give this a try. This tutorial / knit-along was supposed to be a simplified version of the BYOB 2.0 bag and if you find this is too much of an advanced technique to master right now, then just work the regular pattern. So going on from the round you have just worked:
Rnd 1: K to end of rnd.
Rnd 2: *K2tog, yo, k1, yo, SSK; rep from * to end of rnd.
Rep these 2 rnds until panel is length you require.
But if you fancy giving this 'Two-Row SSK' technique a try, then work:
Two-Row SSK pattern:
Rnd 1: [K3, EU-k2] to end of rnd.
Rnd 2: *K2tog, yo, k1, yo, k2tog tbl; rep from * to end of rnd.
Rep these 2 rnds until panel is length you require.
Key: EU-k2 = Knit 2 sts using Eastern Uncrossed wrap, as detailed above.
I usually recite the mantra: "k3 under, k2 over" to remind myself which way to wrap the yarn! See which method you like better and which gives you the best result.
Length of panel
Continue working this central openwork panel until the bag measures the length you want it to be minus the height for the top band. I am going to work a 5cm/2 ins Seed Stitch band at the top, and I want the whole bag to be 35cm/14 ins from the middle of the base to the top. So I will continue in the Openwork Lace pattern until I get to the 30cm/12 ins mark and then start the upper Seed Stitch band.
See you next time for handle choices and finishing your bag.
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