That Pesky Purl Decrease!

Most decreases are worked on the right side of the knitting, but sometimes it is necessary to decrease stitches on the wrong side.  You often find decreases worked on every row in lace knitting and you know what that means, don’t you?  It means that you will eventually have to work that finicky, pesky purl decrease.  You have most likely read these words in your knitting directions, ‘Purl two stitches together in back loops, inserting needle from the left, behind and into the backs of the 2nd and 1st stitches in that order.” A churning begins in your stomach and your head starts to ache and you think to yourself, ‘What in the heck does that mean?”

This happened to me recently in a pattern that I was working on.  The ‘purl 2 together through the back loops’ stitch was finicky.  I couldn’t get my needle into that second stitch despite using my sharpest of needles.  In frustration I frogged and started over at least three times and then I thought to myself, “There has GOT to be another way to do this!”

The research lover in me took over and I searched high and low for an alternative stitch.  I finally found it in one of my great knitting resources, VOGUE KNITTING, The Ultimate Knitting Book. There is another way to work a single left-slanting decrease on the purl side which will slant the stitches to the left on the knit side.  You still purl those two stitches together through the back loops however, a simple twisting of the stitches beforehand makes it ever-so-much-easier!

1.  Slip two stitches knitwise, one at a time, from the left needle to the right needle.  Return these two slipped stitches to to the left needle, keeping them twisted.

2.  Purl these two stitches together through the back loops.

Trust me.  This method is soooooooo much easier and the end result is the same!

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5 thoughts on “That Pesky Purl Decrease!

  1. Wonderful! Where were you in Aug ’08 when I was trying to do this (on a Jojoland pattern, Teal Forest)? Just kidding. This is great and I have made a note and affixed to my pattern in case I ever try it again. I enjoy your blog.

  2. I learned about the ssp in Simple Socks Plain and Fancy, and am glad to have found it. It certainly makes that left-leaning decrease much smoother for me to execute.

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