Tuesday, March 22, 2011

SSK: Worst Abbreviation Ever?

TracyKM made an excellent comment on my recent post about ribbing... she mentions that she ran into a similar issue with SSK...

The pattern she was working with defined the SSK decrease as "slip, slip, knit". So she slipped a stitch, slipped a second stitch, and then knitted a third.

(Which is, by the way, absolutely not the way it's done. Not even close. If you're not familiar with SSK, go here now.)

I see this reasonably often, and it can get a knitter into serious trouble... after all, not only is that NOT a decrease, but it also uses up one more stitch than it should, and it can completely screw up with your stitch count.

I regularly get asked what SSK stands for, and after years of teaching knitting, I have simply stopped spelling the abbreviation out. I respond with a definition: "it's a left leaning decrease", if I'm feeling theoretical, or, if I'm feeling effusive, "it's a k2tog but you twist the stitches first".

Invariably, someone in the room pipes up and says "slip, slip, knit". I try to make a little joke out of it, and explain why it's so horribly wrong.

I mean, technically, it stands for "slip, slip, knit the 2 stitches together through the back loop", but it so rarely gets spelled out that way. Yeah, sure, if you know what you're doing, then "slip, slip, knit" conveys it - but after all, aren't instructions like these for people who don't know what they are doing??

I really do need to come up with a catchy alternative explanation - in the meantime, I will simply continue to refer to SSK as a candidate for the most misleading abbreviation ever, and hope that knitters remember how to work it.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

ssk only took a little while and a few frogged rows before I caught on. what really throws me even now is pick up two stitches. O.K. some mean pick up and knit2 stitches and someone else means pick up two stitches and in the next row knit these 2 stitches Is there a way to figure that one out all the time? Thanks Donna

Northmoon said...

I completely agree, terrible confusing abreviation. SSK also has no apparent relationship to the K2tog that it is often paired with.

Just one of the reasons why I prefer to knit from a chart.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for explaining this. Have always had to look up SSK whenever it appeared in a pattern, but now I think I will be able to remember what it means.

Anni said...

I totally agree with you about ssk and very often end up with problems when I teach because people mis-interpret it. i agree calling it slip slip knit is a bit misleading.