Left and Right-leaning Decreases
Updated: Apr 18
All knitting decreases (and increases too, for that matter) fall into one of two categories: right-leaning and left-leaning, which has nothing to do with their political views. I'm going to show you why both are important, and how to use them together in different combinations to create different looks.
Swatches and More Swatches
I made some swatches to show you different ways that left- and right-leaning stitches can be combined.
Remember that K2tog leans to the right, and SSK leans to the left (along with a few other methods; for more on that see this blog post)
When you do K2tog, SSK (right to left) next to each other in the middle or wherever, what you get is two raised stitches and then all of the other stitches seem to just disappear underneath.
This swatch has all of the same decreases but in reverse order, and see how different that is? Instead of the raised ridge in the middle, it's more flat. All of the stitches are just meeting together. The only problem with this is you run the risk of the sort of gapping in between, so you have to either make sure you pull it really super tight in between, but you still might get a gap, or the other option is to add a stitch - just a plain knit stitch - in between each of the decreases, and that will really help to smooth it out.
Intro to Knitting Charts
To give you a better picture and help you visualize how this is all laid out, I made a couple charts. The vertical line in the middle notates where a stitch marker is placed, and the / and \ symbols are the decreases. Ideally they would be 2 squares wide, but I couldn’t figure out how to do that with the program I was using.
To further explain how to knit with a chart (if you enlarge the image, you should be able to read the key in the bottom right corner) the plain white squares stand for both knitting on the right side and purling on the wrong side. So all of the odd-numbered rows are just purled all the way across. If this were a stitch pattern for anything other that stockinette, there would also be dot or dash symbols to notate purling on the right side or knitting on the wrong side.
Charts are generally worked from right to left on the right side, and left to right on the wrong side, as well as bottom to top.
Don't be scared!
I know charts can sometimes seem intimidating and a little confusing, but if you are a visual learner, it really can help to visualize what you're reading when you look at the written instructions.