Knitting with Slipped Stitches

Slipped Stitches in knitting

Slipped stitches are common in knitting and have several uses like making colorwork and textured patterns, more about that further down.

First, we need to know what slipped stitches are and how to knit them!

When your pattern says to slip a stitch (sl or sl st) that means to move the stitch from the left needle over to the right needle without knitting it.

If the pattern doesn’t say otherwise you slip a stitch as if you were going to purl.

First, there’s a video showing the basics in knitting with slipped stitches, then I go through it more in dept in writing, and last, there’s a run-through of when to use slipped stitches. Let’s get started slipping 🙂

Knitting video: Knitting with slipped stitches

In this video, I go through the basics of knitting with slipped stitches. How to slip knitwise and purlwise, and how to slip with yarn in front (wyif) and with yarn in back (wyib).


Slipped stitch abbreviations

  • sl or sl st – slip stitch
  • sl1k or sl1kwise – slip 1 stitch knitwise
  • sl1p or sl1pwise – slip 1 stitch purlwise
  • wyif – with yarn in front of the work
  • wyib – with yarn in back of the work
  • WYON – with yarn in the needle, make a yarn over before slipping the stitch

How to Slip Stitch knitwise – sl1k or sl 1 kwise

To slip a stitch knitwise, insert your needle tip into the stitch as if you were going to knit it and just let it slip over to the right needle.

How to Slip Stitch purlwise – sl1p or sl 1 pwise

To slip a stitch purlwise, insert your needle tip into the stitch as if you were going to purl and just let it slip over to the right needle. This is the standard way of slipping stitches. If your pattern doesn’t say otherwise, always assume you’re supposed to slip purlwise.

Slip Stitch with yarn in front – sl 1 wyif

Slip the stitch while holding the yarn in front of your work. The Front, in this case, means that you want the working yarn to be on the side of the work that’s facing you. So if the RS is facing you, that’s the front. If the WS is facing you, that’s the front. 

Slip Stitch with yarn in back – sl 1 wyib

Slip the stitch while holding the yarn in back of your work. This means that the yarn should be at the back, the side that’s not facing you, no matter if that’s the right side or the wrong side of your work.

Slip several stitches

This technique is used for knitting i-cord edgings as you go. If your patterns say to slip three stitches (sl 3 or sl 3 st), you can just let the three stitches slide over to the right needle. When stitches are slipped purlwise (the standard way) the stitches aren’t twisted and therefore there’s no need to slip them on at a time.

If your pattern says slip three stitches knitwise (sl 3 k or sl 3 kwise) you will have to slip the stitches individually. Because of the twist in knit stitches.

Slip stitch with Yarn On the Needle (WYON)

Make a yarn over (YO) and then slip a stitch. The yarn should be placed over the needle from the front to the back as a regular yarn over. The WYON is worked the same way on the right side and the wrong side.

When to use slipped stitches?

Slipped stitches have many uses in knitting, they are used for knitting easier colorwork, textured stitch patterns, knitting neat edges, and double stockinette stitch.

Colorwork with Slipped Stitches

Knitting colorwork with slipped stitches is much easier than using the Stranded knitting methods. The fabric created is denser than the fabric knitted with stranded colorwork, but it doesn’t have the floated strands at the back which makes the stranded knitting so thick and warm.

When knitting colorwork with slipped stitches you only work with one strand at the time, slipping the stitches that aren’t going to be knit with that color. Then you knit with the other strand, knitting the stitches slipped on last round.

Read more about knitting colorwork!

Textured patterns with slipped stitches

Slipped stitches can be used to create a textured surface on the fabric.

In the Tweed stitch, for example, every other stitch is slipped purlwise with the yarn in front on all rows to create an interesting texture.

Tweed stitch pattern:

Cast on a multiple of 2 sts.

Row 1: (RS) *K1, sl1 purlwise wyif *repeat *–* to end of row
Row 2: *P1, sl1 purlwise wyib* repeat *–* to end of row

Repeat rows 1 and 2.

Knitting neat edges with slipped stitches

If the first stitch of every row is slipped purlwise and the last stitch is purled the edge looks neat and tidy!

Read more about how to knit neat edges here!

Double stockinette stitch

Double Stockinette is a reversible fabric that looks like the stockinette stitch on both sides. As it is in fact double it’s also thick and warm, perfect for scarves, blankets, and potholders.

Here’s a post dedicated to double stockinette stitch, If you want to know more!

Your next read:
––> Guide to Knitting Colorwork
––> Free printable: 88 knitting abbreviations
––> 10 Adorable baby blanket knitting kits