slip stitch vs knit in the row below

slip stitch vs knit in the row below
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There are many ways to create a knitted fabric with the use of multiple colors. For beginners working with more then one thread at a time can be intimidating. Nevertheless there are ways achieve a color pattern by working with one thread per row/round. The 2 ways I want to show today are slipped stitches and knit in the row below. Both techniques are easy to do and alter the fabric to mimic color patterns.

1. Knit into the row below

row-below

The knitting needle is inserted into the loop of the stitch below the next stitch.
You can cover multiple rows this way, too, but keep in mind that very long stitches can break more easily. The knit in the row below stitch creates an downward dart or longer stitch pointing downward.

2. The slip stitch

slip-stitch

left: slip stitch purlwise with yarn in the back
right: slip stitch purlwise with yarn in front

Slipped stitches work the other way round. Slip the stitch with either the yarn in the back or front, depending on your pattern. In one of the next rows the slipped stitch will be worked again.
You can slip one stitch for several rows, but there are limitations how long the stitch can be stretched. The slipped stitch creates an upwards dart or longer stitch pointing upward.

Comparison

Both stitches elongate one stitch over one or several rows and thus cover the stitch color of these rows underneath. While knitting in the row below makes a downward pointed stitch, the slip stitch creates an upward pointing stitch. This makes a difference in pattern making, so you definitely can’t substitute one stitch with the other and get the same result.

There is also a huge difference in gauge with both stitches. The slipped stitchmakes the fabric more firm, while knitting in the row below makes a very airy fabric. I choose a smaller needle size for knitting in the row below and a bigger needle for the slip stitch compared to regular stockinette knitting. Why the difference? Let’s take a look into the nature of both stitches:

comparison1

upper part: knit in the row below – the green is popping out a little bit
lower part: slipped stitch – the white slipped stitches pop out very distinctively

With slip stitch you take a regular, already existing stitch and stop knitting it for one or more rows. When you work this stitch after some rows, this regular stitch get’s pulled up and has to cover twice or more the height of rows it was made for. Since every stitch only has a certain length of yarn and can’t just simply be longer, it has to borrow yarn length from the neighbour stitches. This creates some tension, so when you work the slipped stitch it has the tendancy to stretch back to it’s own row. This however pulls together the rows the stitch is covering slightly. That is why the slipped stitch compacts the fabric slightly and makes it more firmly.

Now let’s see what knitting in the row below does differently. By knitting in the row below you essentially make a large stitch and additionally unravel the stitches of the row below (the amount depends on how many rows below you stitch). If you have ever dropped a stitch you know, that unraveled stitches don’t just disappear but leave a trail of yarn about the width of the yarn the lost stitch used AND the stitches right beside the dropped stitch grow slightly because they swallow a part of the excess yarn from the dropped stitch. So by unraveling the stitches below you create a hole (covered then by the knit-in-the-row-below-stitch) and enlarge the stitches on each side. With all this new room, the fabric becomes airy and lighter.

Here are the related articles for this mini-series:

Introduction
Slip stitch vs knit in the row below
5 slip stitch patterns
5 knit in the row below patterns

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Anne is an embroidery enthusiast living in rural north eastern Germany.

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