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Difference Between k2tog and ssk

I created a tutorial video, aimed at beginning knitters, on how to do the k2tog and ssk decreases. But how can you remember which one is which and identify the difference on a chart?

Do you know the difference between the two decreases? When would you want to do a k2tog vs. an ssk? If you take a close look at your decreases the next time you do them (or if you watch the last part of the tutorial video), you'll see that the k2tog makes the decrease lean toward the right and the ssk makes the decrease lean toward the left. Designers often use the directionality of the decrease as part of the design.

How can you remember which way each decrease leans? Here's a quick memory aid. Look at the number 2. The slant of the middle section of the number (/) leans toward the right, just like the k2tog decrease. Now look at the letter S. The slant of the middle section (\) leans toward the left, just like the SSK decrease.

So how can this help you when you're looking at a knitting chart? The symbols used for the two decreases echo the slant of the decrease. Here are the two most commonly used symbols to indicate the k2tog decrease:

 

And here are the two most commonly used symbols to indicate the ssk decrease:

See how the k2tog symbol slants to the right and how the ssk symbol slants to the left (for the symbols with the legs, you want to look at the long section, not the leg), just like the number 2 and the letter S, respectively? The symbol itself helps you figure out which decrease you should be working in your pattern!

Once I learned this trick and remembered which decrease leans to the right (k2tog) and which to the left (ssk), I no longer had to look at the key for charts while working on a project. It saves a lot of time to glance at the chart and just have to think "right" or "left" and know which decrease to work! So the next time you're working from a chart, try to remember this tip and not look at the key each time you come to one of these decreases. Before long, you should be able to zip through a chart with these decreases, never having to look them up on the key again.

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