Stitch markers, double decreases, and reading your knitting

I’ve been writing a lot about how to keep track of where to place a line of double increases. The flip side of the problem is keeping track of double decreases, which is to say,  three stitches worked together together to make one stitch.

Without a certain amount of care, the location for a given stitch marker will be eaten up by the decreases. Alternately, a locking stitch marker can be placed in the base of a decrease. Another way to cope is to read your knitting and see where to place the next decrease. This blog post will discuss all three methods.

Stitch marker on the the needle:

marking a double decrease with a stitch marker on the needle.

If using a regular stitch marker, the best place to put it on the needle is after one stitch following the first double decrease.

marking a double decrease with a stitch marker on the needle.

When knitting the next right side row, work up to three stitches before the stitch marker.

marking a double decrease with a stitch marker on the needle.

Work the double decrease using those three stitches, then remove the stitch marker. Knit one more stitch, then place the stitch marker again. This does mean moving the stitch marker on a regular basis, but it’s not terribly fussy.

Locking stitch markers:

A way to avoid having to move a stitch marker a lot with double decreases is to clip a locking stitch marker into the base of the first double decrease. It can stay in that stitch for a few rows, and then get moved to a new stitch several rows later. Here’s how.

First, after working the first double decrease, clip the stitch marker into the base of the front stitch.

marking a double decrease with a locking stitch marker

Pay close attention to the stitches when approaching the stitch marker on the next right side row. There will be a single stitch sitting above the marked decrease stitches. That stitch will be the center stitch of the next double decrease to be made.

marking a double decrease with a locking stitch marker

Work up to the stitch before the center stitch, and then work the double decrease. When it starts to be difficult to see where the center stitch of the double decrease should be, move the marker up a few rows.
Reading double decreases:

It is possible for some knitters to do without stitch markers entirely, by paying attention to the stitches below the needles. This is my preferred method, especially when working a row with a lot of double decreases in it, though I admit to a not-uncommon need to backtrack by a few stitches when I overshoot.

reading knitting to see where to place a line of double decreases

The first thing is to recognize when the previous double decrease is coming up. It looks like a little knot of stitches with a single stitch between it and the needle. (Try holding your work up with a light behind it if it’s difficult to see. A tablet or smartphone screen is good, too.) It’s easiest with a central double decrease (as shown in the picture), also known as sl2-k1-psso or s2kp, but can be done with any variant of working three stitches together.

reading knitting to see where to place a line of double decreases

Stop working plain knitting when there is one regular stitch left before the decrease column, then work the double decrease.

Please let me know in comments if anything is unclear about this and I will try to clarify.

2 thoughts on “Stitch markers, double decreases, and reading your knitting

  1. I have been trying to do this but it’s not happening I slipped the Centre st first but when I slipped the second st it crossed over the first st and doesn’t look like the picture (chain) what am I doing wrong pls? I’m getting frustrated. Thanks

    1. Is it the double decreases you’re trying to do?

      The trick is to slip the two stitches at the same time, as if you’re knitting them together.

      I have more detailed instructions for actually doing these decreases (instead of how to read your knitting or use stitch markers) on this page: https://gannetdesigns.com/2013/02/16/double-decreases-common-and-less-so/

      Scroll down to the instructions labeled sl2tog – k1 – psso (this is an older name for the CDD or s2kp decrease).

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