Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Lace Knitting: On the double decrease; s2kpo vs. sk2po

I had great fun last week speaking to the Kawarthas Knitting Guild, on the topic of Entrelac.

I met some lovely people (ladies and a gentleman), and we learnt some new things, and had a good discussion.

We got talking about decreases, as you do with Entrelac. Directional decreases. Entrelac uses a p2tog which leans tidily to the right, and an ssk which leans tidily to the left.

S., a knitter almost as opinionated as me (and I mean that as a compliment!), said that she'd done a workshop on decreases a few weeks before. I made my usual confession about ssk being my favourite decrease. (It's not really about which decrease it is, it's more than I have a favourite decrease...)

And then she asked me about double decreases... you know, the s2k blah blah blah decrease.

And oh boy, do I have an opinion on this!

When you need to decrease two stitches, particularly in lace, you often see the following decrease used: sk2po. It's described as being a centered double decrease.

Well, yes and no. And I hate it.

It's worked as follows: slip 1 stitch knitwise, k2tog, and then pass the slipped stitch over the k2tog. It's absolutely centered, yes. It doesn't lean, in that it doesn't cause the fabric to lean - but it certainly looks like it leans. See the decrease on the left in this swatch:

And then look at the right decrease.

The one on the right is how I think you should do a centered double decrease: s2kpo. Slip 2 sts together knitwise, knit 1, then pass the 2 slipped stitches over the knit stitch.

Very tidy. Doesn't lean, decreases two stitches, and looks centered. It has a very strong vertical line which I think looks terrific.

It surprises me how many patterns call for the sk2po decrease for a centered decrease. I think it's ugly, and it can mess up the line of the pattern stitch.

Look at my Swallowtail shawl, for example. I love this pattern, don't get me wrong. But I think the leaf motifs would be much more attractive if the top decrease was centered.

What do you think?


Laura said...

Well, it seems you're not the only one with strong opinions on the subject; I feel compelled to de-lurk to respond. :)

I usually totally agree with you. The s2kpo is beautiful and clean-looking, and I thought it was the only centered double decrease I'd ever need. However, I've been working on Jared Flood's Girasole pattern, which calls for the sk2po. I was scornful at first, but I tried it both ways and decided I actually liked it his way in that application. The double decrease closes the top of a leaf motif, and it looked funny when the leaves had vertical lines coming out of their tips.

Shorter me: s2kpo is awesome and generally superior, but the sk2po has a place, when used judiciously.

Shosh said...

I agree. The jaywalkers do the s2kpo, and I think it looks great. I've knitted a couple of shawls that want the sk2togpo, and it's messier. It's more likely to stretch the slipped stitch, too, in my opinion.

Bonnie said...

Can we pause for a moment and marvel at how lovely the Internet is? There is NO ONE in my life who would like to sit down over coffee and have this conversation with me. Yet we can find kindred nerdy knitter spirits on the web. Lovely.

And thank you.

TracyKM said...

Once again, I totally agree with you! I have loved the centered double decrease for YEARS, and rarely saw it in patterns.
I think the example in your shawl--the early pattern writers must have all had a right hand bias; wanting things to lean that way, LOL. I'm a more 'centered' person I think, LOL.

17th stitch said...

I'm with Bonnie... I'm just blown away that the internet has helped me find anyone else in the world who would care about this issue!

I think you make a compelling argument and I'm completely convinced. I will make a note of this, as I'm hoping to make a swallowtail shawl this summer.


Northmoon said...

While I think both have their place I agree with you (for once) that having the centred stitch of a double decrease end up on top often makes nicer line in lace patterns.

I do it by slip 2 knit wise then k all 3 together. Same deal but less distortion than slip 2 k1, pass 2 sts over. But I'm a relaxed knitter so it might not work for a tight knitter.

Your swallow tail looks fine to me though, like the sections each have a neat little cap. If it was one long line of knitting straight through, the 'leaves' wouldn't look as distinct.

V said...

The s2kpo really made the difference for my two Clothilde shawls. I personally get really annoyed by details like slanted decreases where centred decreases should be, and I did not like that about my Ishbel. This was a great tip for lace knitting that I've shared basically everywhere (with reference to you, since I didn't come up with it!). It's cleaner, it doesn't stretch the stitch out of proportion, and it looks nicer to my eye, even from a prancing pony.

Approved. Symmetry makes everything better.

Anonymous said... knitting on size 6 DPNs with sock yarn, and I think the first method is winning out, just because the second (and possibly the way I knit) means that the loops I slip over are horribly, horribly loose. -shrug- Go figure. I definitely WILL try the symmetric double decrease on another project, though--it just looks so much better!