Decreases Lithuanian Style

Lithuanian Knitting Traditions | 25 Patterns

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In continuing with little snippets about the book and reposting of my research and travel posts, here’s something on the technical side.

There’s a short techniques chapter in the book, and I will be posting a lot of extra detailed tutorials and videos on my website and YouTube. Why did I do it that way? I think there’s enough detail in the book for an advanced-beginner and intermediate knitter to learn all of the special techniques to make the projects. There is a lot more that’s fun to learn about Lithuanian knitting but some of it is just basic knitting information and some is just interesting but not necessary to follow the patterns in the book so I decided to make a web page with that info instead. Plus people are really into learning from videos these days, which gives you the ability to actually see the motion of the hands, yarn, and knitting needles that is being explained in the text.

Ok. I love decreases. Maybe a little too much. Here’s a bit that’s written about the Lithuanian instructions for decreases that will be on the website to accompany the book with videos added:

Knitting Techniques (Mezgimo Būdai)

Originally posted  3 Feb, 2009

The other day I got a box from Lithuania in the mail. Inside were a half a dozen Lithuanian books about knitting and crochet. In one, Megzkime Pačios (“Let’s Knit”) by O. Jarmulavičienė, I found that the author provides the basic knitting stitches in the Combination method — the way I learned to knit from my Russian-Jewis grandmother.

Notice that the leading leg of the knit stitch is behind the needle, not in front. This is caused when purling by wrapping the yarn in the opposite direction than is normally done in America. This twists the stitches. On right-side rows in stockinette stitch, you have to knit in the back loop to untwist the stitches.

Knit Stitch

lith knit

Purl Stitch

lith purl

On the decreases a left-slanting decrease (ssk in America) is a knit two together here, but because the stitches are turned, you put the right needle into the back of the two stitches to knit them together and the final decrease leans to the left.

Left-slanting Decrease (Knit 2 together from the “bottom”/back)

lith k2togtbl

A right-slanting decrease (k2tog in America) is knit two together from the “top”. This would be like knitting through the back loops, except that the stitches are turned around so now you’re knitting through the fronts. This creates a decrease that slants to the right, but the stitches are twisted. Depending on the yarn texture and color, this may or may not be noticeable in the finished knitting.

Right-slanting Decrease (Knit 2 together from the “top”/front)

lith k2tog

Another Knitting Technique (Kitas Mezgimo Būdas)

Originally posted  4 Feb, 2009

Yesterday I posted a few pictures from an old Lithuanian knitting book showing the basic knit and purl stitches and left- and right- slanting decreases using the Combination method of knitting. I wanted to add one additional interesting technique and a general note.

Right slanting decrease, not twisted

This would be k2tog in American knitting, or to reverse it for combination knitting would be ssk. But in this case only the second stitch is turned around. The first stitch, which will be the bottom stitch in the decrease and hidden, is not turned.

lith ssk

Knit stitch in Garter

This is how you knit in Garter stitch, which is the same as in American knitting because the leading leg of the stitch is in front of the needle, since there are no purl rows to turn the stitches around.

lith garter stitch

This confused the hell out of me when I was a teenager and I saw one of my friends knitting garter stitch booties. I never had knitted garter stitch. My grandmother taught me stockinette stitch first. It’s really easy to learn for kids in this method. Y ou just remember this:

Knit = back/back Purl = front/front

That is, to knit, you hold the working yarn in the back, and you insert the right needle into the back of the stitch. To purl, you hold the working yarn in front, and you insert the right needle into the front of the stitch. I personally think this is a great way to teach kids to knit. Just make sure you tell them what’s unusual about it before they go off trying to knit from “normal” knitting books so they don’t get confused like I did!

Basically, to knit without twisting your stitches, you just always go into the leading leg of the stitch. It doesn’t matter if it’s in front of or behind the needle.

American Version of Left-slanting Decreases Info

Originally posted on Ravelry 14 April, 2015 (today LOL)

The oldest left-slanting decrease in knitting seems to be slip 1, knit 1, pass the slipped stitch over. I used to think this was weird because it’s three steps to make one stitch and why not use ssk or k2tog-tbl instead. Then I started knitting fine lace a lot and found that sometimes, especially with cotton or silk, skpo is actually much easier.

Ssk, sometimes called “slip, slip, knit,” is actually a variation of knitting 2 together through the back. The slips are done knitwise to change the orientation of the stitches. Then the two slipped stitches are placed back onto the left needle and knitted together through the back. A shortcut to that last part is to insert the left needle into the fronts of the two slipped stitches while they are still on the right needle and then knit them together. You are still knitting them together through the back. This was used a lot by Barbara Walker and Elizabeth Zimmermann.

Knitting two stitches through the back is really the simplest way to make a left-slanting decrease but it does twist the stitches. So depending on your yarn, project, and level of perfectionism, you may not like it. This was used by Dorothy Reade and is used by the Oomingmak knitters of Alaska, that I wrote about in a couple of my books.

To have a left-slanting decrease that looks not twisted actually only requires turning the first stitch around because the second stitch will be hidden behind it. So you can also do this: insert the right needle into the first stitch knitwise, then into the second stitch through the back loop, and knit them off together. I forgot where I learned this but I really like this one because it’s a quick one step process and still gives you a visibly untwisted decrease.

All of this assumes you have a “standard” stitch orientation with the leading leg in the front of the needle. In other words, the leg of the stitch that is in front of the needle, closest to the knitter, is also the leg that is closest to the tip of the left needle.

In general, when you knit 2 together through the front you get a right slanting decrease and when you knit 2 together through the back you get a left slanting decrease. Depending on how your stitches are oriented on the needles before you work the decrease, you may want to turn one or both stitches around before knitting them together to avoid having twisted stitches.



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