Saturday, July 5, 2008

Purl Decreases

Heres hoping you all had a wonderful 4th, filled with friends, family, fun, food and fireworks. And no, I didn't start out intending to be alliterative. I'm resisting the urge to change that to 'fabulous Fourth'. One has to draw the line somewhere.

Well, here we are embarking on our second year with the blog. As ever, if you have any questions about techniques, problems to solve, and curiosities, please email me at Lynda at Kiwiknitting dot com. I can always use extra blog fodder and suggestions of topics. Otherwise you are all at the mercy of my whims.

So it seems ages ago that I promised to show you purl decreases. The first one you know, it's easy-peasy and you do it all the time - the Purl Two Together (P2tog). And it is just as it sounds. Your right needle goes straight into the next two stitches on your left needle, and you purl them together as one stitch.

Now, if we remember our rule about decreases - whichever stitch the right needle enters first is the stitch that ends up on top of the pile when the decrease is finished - then we know that with a P2tog, the right needle first enters the rightmost of the two stitches to be decreased, so that is the one that ends up on top of the pile, and therefore the decrease leans away from that stitch. That makes the P2tog a left-leaning decrease. It is the flip side of the coin to a K2tog. In other words, if you had finished the previous row with a K2tog, and wanted right away to work a decrease on the other side of the fabric at the beginning of the new row, P2tog would be your choice, as they will both lean into the center of your fabric.

However, say you want a left-leaning decrease? SSP - Slip, Slip, Purl - is your answer, and it is the backside of an SSK. But the name 'SSP' doesn't tell you the whole story. This one is just slightly tricky. You start by slipping two stitches knitwise - one at a time - to your right needle, just as you do with an SSK. As we know, this slipping changes the orientation of the stitches, and for conventional knitters, now the left leg of the stitches will be in front.

Now take those two stitches from the right needle, and slip them as is back to the left needle, keeping that changed orientation.

Now, if you were to purl them in the normal way by putting your right needle right down their little throats, your right needle would be entering the right stitch first, and make a left-leaning decrease, and that is not what we want in an SSP. Instead, you are going to P2tog tbl - Purl Two Together Through The Back of the Loop. Get your right needle behind the left needle, both pointing towards the right. Go into the second stitch first, heading towards the point of the left needle, and entering the first stitch as well. Now turn your right needle so that it crosses the left needle, just as usual. Purl the two stitches together as one stitch from this position.

I have on rare occasion seen P2tog tbl all by itself to make a right-leaning purl decrease with a twist to the base of the stitches. In fact, I've been seeing this more often with short-row heel patterns. You know how I love short-row heels!

Working double decreases with purl stitches follows the same rules - P3tog is just as it sounds, SSSP, ditto. My centered double decrease for purl is to slip two stitches together knitwise, purl the next stitch, and then pass those two slipped stitches over the stitch just worked.

On another note, I've had a couple of people mention that they have stopped by the shop this week to find that we are not only closed, but that there is nothing in the shop! If you didn't get a chance to read the blog post saying that we were closed this week for vacation, then you will have been quite puzzled. Lynn told me that she is hoping that the floors will have been redone while the shop was closed, so I'm sure she had to take everything out so that the floors were clear to be worked on. Kiwi Knitting Co. should be open and ready for business at 10 on Monday morning.

In the meantime, hope you all have a great weekend and are enjoying the monsoon storms as much as I am!

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