How to Decrease in Knitting

How to Decrease in Knitting

Are you wondering how to decrease stitches in your fabric? An easy-to-understand guide on how to decrease stitches in six different methods will help you become a knitting pro!

How to decrease in knitting
Image source: WikiHow

Check out this video.

A decrease in knitting is a technique for reducing the number of stitches in a row. Using the below methods, you can use decrease for neck shaping, hat crown shaping, sleeve caps, socks, etc., using the below methods.

How to Decrease in Knitting Right Leaning

How to knit right
Image Source: We are Knitters

There are two methods of decreasing in knitting right-leaning; K2tog and P2tog.

Materials Needed:

    1. Knitting Needle
    2. Yarn
    •  K2tog –Knit Two Together

How to decrease in knitting tutorial
Image Source: Knitfreedom

If you are asking how do you decrease a stitch in knitting, then learn K2tog. This is the easiest and most common method of decreasing a stitch in knitting and leans to the right.

Once you master this knitting decrease technique, you’ll be able to decrease more stitches at a time. Here is a step by step guide on how to decrease in knitting by K2tog method

Step 1. Hold your fabric with one knitting needle. From left to right, insert the needle into the front of the second stitch and push through to the first stitch.

Step 2. In the usual way, knit the two stitches together as if they are one. There will be one stitch on the right needle, and one decrease is made!

    • P2tog – Purl Two Together

How to purl two stitches together
Image Source: Tincanknits

P2tog is the equal version of k2tog and is done on the wrong side. Just like the k2tog, you can use this stitch to decrease more than one stitch at once.

The more stitches you decrease at once, the more visible the decrease will appear. Below are steps to decrease stitches using the  p2tog method;

Step 1. Holding your fabric on a purl row, insert the needle on your right-hand side through two stitches on the left-hand knitting needle.

Step 2. Wrap the two stitches with yarn as you would do on a normal purl stitch, then slide the loops off the needle on your left hand.

How to Decrease in Knitting Left-Leaning

There are three methods of decreasing in knitting while left-leaning; ssk, ssp and skpo.

    • SSK—Slip, Slip, Knit

How to ssk
Image Source: Little Red Window

Another common way of decreasing one stitch is the ssk method although it’s done leaning on the left side, unlike k2tog. It’s combined with k2tog to create a smarter finish and a balanced decrease. Similarly, an ssp on the wrong side is paired with p2tog to create an ssk on the right side.

Step 1. As if to knit, hold your fabric on the right side facing you. Insert the right-hand side needle through the first stitch on the left-hand side needle, and slip it over to the right side. Repeat this step to slip over the second stitch on the left-hand side needle.

Step 2. Holding the two needles together, push the left-hand side needle through the two stitches you have slipped on the right-hand needle.

Step 3. Yarn the right-hand needle while knitting through the back loops and remove both the loops off the left-hand needle.

    • SSP—Slip, Slip, Purl

How to decrease in knitting for beginners
Image Source: Sunday Knits

SSP is a purled decrease worked on the wrong side and leaned to the left side. It’s usually combined with p2tog to create a finer finish, and it’s stitched as below;

Step 1. While holding your fabric on the purl side facing you and as if knitting, slip the first stitch from the left side needle using the right-hand side needle. Repeat to slip the second stitch (like you did on ssk)

Step 2. Without twisting the stitches, slip them back to the left-hand side knitting needle.

Step 3. Push the right-hand side needle through the back leg of the two slipped stitches and wrap the yarn around them to purl them together.

Step 4. Pull the loops off the left–hand side needle. You will have decreased one stitch!

    • SKPO—Slip, Knit, Pass over

How to decrease stitches in knitting
Image Source: The knitting site

Skype decrease is worked by slipping one stitch, knitting the next stitch, and passing the slipped stitch over while leaning to the left, as shown below;

Step 1. As if to knit, push the right-hand side needle into the first stitch on the left-hand side.

Step 2. Pull the stitch to the right-hand side needle

Step 3. Knit the next stitch the usual way from the left-hand side needle.

Step 4. From left to right, insert the left needle into the slipped stitch, then pass the slipped stitch over the knit stitch and slide it off the right needle—a decrease is made!

How to Decrease in Knitting Central Leaning

Centered single decrease
Image Source: Purl Soho

A decrease in knitting on central leaning is also known as double leaning

S2kpo is the main central decreasing method, and you can use it if you know how to join knitting in the round. While others lean to either left or right, it remains centrally placed, as shown on the below steps.

    • S2KPO—Slip Two Together, Knit one, Pass over Slipped Stitch

S2kpo is a decrease in knitting that neither leans to the left nor the right. It’s called a central decrease that creates a straight line in your knitting project. It’s simple if you know how to knitHere are the steps to guide you;

Step 1. Push the right-hand-side needle into two current stitches on the left-hand side needle as you did on k2tog decrease. Leave the stitches on the right-hand needle and slip out the left-hand needle.

Step 2. Knit the next stitch on the left hand the usual way.

Step 3. Now pass the two slipped stitches over the knit stitch and off the right needle. Did you see a decrease? You should if you followed correctly.

    • S2PP-Slip Two, Knit, Purl

The S2pp is another type of decrease in knitting equivalent to the S2kpo above. Like the s2kpo, two stitches are pulled together as one over the first stitch, and only one stitch is left on the right needle.

Although the decreasing pattern is the same for the knit and purl stitch, there is a huge difference in inserting the needle to slip the two stitches. The results are messier because of the many knit and passing over of the yarn. Let’s see

Step 1. While holding the yarn to the front, put the right needle through one stitch followed by another.

Step 2. Slip back the two stitches back to the left needle in a purl

Step 3. Insert the right needle through the back of both stitches and as if to purl; insert into the second and then to the first stitch.

Step 4. Slip the stitches to the right needle.  Purl the next stitch on the left needle the normal way. There you got it! Single purled stitch and two overlapping stitches.

Step 5. Push through the left needle to the front of the overlapping stitches and over the single stitch, then off to the right needle.




Knit two together


Purl two together


Slip, slip, knit


Slip, knit, pass over


Slip two, knit, pass over




Knit slip knit


Pass slipped stitch over

How to Decrease in Knitting and Keep Pattern

Decrease in knitting
Image Source: Modern Daily Knitting

Decrease in knitting while keeping the pattern means maintaining the continuity of a stitch pattern while knitting woven labels or care labels within the fabric.

Although some fabrics have more than one knitting pattern, mastering how to pick up stitches in knitting and how to read knitting patterns would help you understand how to decrease stitches in knitting without losing your original pattern.

The simplest way to decrease while keeping track of your complicated pattern is by mapping your fabric on paper using rows while comparing it with the knitting instructions as illustrated in this video.

How Do I Decrease a Stitch in Knitting

When learning how to start knitting, you will come across decreasing stitches in knitting. It means you will reduce the number of stitches you started with as you knit. Whether you are learning how to knit a blanket or how to knit a hat, you will encounter stitches decrease at some point.

Decreasing a stitch in knitting is the most common method of reducing the length or width of your fabric. There are two methods to decrease a stitch when knitting; at the beginning of the row and the end of the knitting row, as shown in this video.

K2TOG is the best method for decreasing a stitch in knitting at the end of a row

    • Decreasing at the End of a Row ‘K2TOG’

If you know how to weave in ends knitting, you know that the tail is either on the left on the ‘P’ stitch or the right side on the ‘K’ stitch. It’s easier to relate when this method pulls your work toward the right side. Here are the steps;

Step 1. While knitting, remain with three stitches towards the end.

Step 2. Insert your left needle through two stitches on the right side and knit them together as if they are one.

Step 3. Continue knitting the last stitch, and there you have it! One stitch has been decreased toward the right side.

    •  Decreasing at the Beginning of a Row ‘KSK PSSO’

Step 1. Knit the first stitch on your fabric and on the row you want to decrease.

Step2. As if to knit, push through your needle to the next stitch and slip it over to the right needle

Step 3. Knit the next stitch

Step 4. Push your left needle on the front of your slipped stitch as if to purl, and pull over the first stitch eliminating it. You have a decrease!


Leaning side




Right(done on the wrong side of work)








Left(done on the wrong side of work)



Why Decrease in Knitting

If you know how to knit a scarf, you probably have come across a decrease in knitting instructions. Besides decreasing the number of stitches in a row, there are other reasons why you decrease in knitting, which include;

    1. Pattern Change

Why decrease in knitting
Image Source: Winwickmum

Ever encountered a knitting project with more than one or complicated pattern? Yes! You spend a lot of time mastering them, mapping and knitting, to bring out the finest finish.

When required to change a knitting pattern, you should know how to count rows in knitting and decrease a stitch (es) where appropriate to keep track of the pattern.

      2. Narrow the Knitting Shape

When you know how to cast on knitting, the next thing is to understand the shape your knitting project will take before you know how to cast off knitting. Normally the shape of a fabric changes as you knit, depending on the project instructions.

 This decrease in knitting narrows the fabric towards the left, right, or center. There are different methods of decreasing stitches to give your fabric a neat finish.

      3. Reduce the Number of Stitches

Have you ever cast on too many stitches than you needed? Don’t worry! Instead of unraveling to the start again, learn how to decrease stitches as you go. Choose any of the above methods that will work well with your knitting pattern and use it.

However, if you know how to finger knit, you can decrease knitting to maintain the pattern.  

      4. Changing Colours

Knit changing colors and fair isle knitting
Image Source: Yarnspirations

If you know how to change colors in knitting fabric, you are probably familiar with a decrease in knitting as you change colors in patterns. Some color patterns take a particular shape which requires decreased and increased stitches as you change the yarn.

Decrease in knitting helps the color pattern to fit in the fabric without creating inconsistent stitches, whether the pattern is a purl or a knit stitch.


Want to change a pattern by reducing stitches? Relax! Decreasing in knitting is one of the smartest and simplest ways to transform your knitting patterns. There are different methods to choose from, and ensure that your project has a unique finish. 

With this guideline, you can also learn how to decrease one stitch in knitting. So, whether you want to decrease towards the left, right, or center, your fabric will simply look great!