Mindful Blog

The Mindful Collection

How to Slip Stitch in Knitting?

Slip stitch is a knitting technique that can be employed in various ways in every project whether it be a pair of socks or even a blanket. Abbreviated as Sl in knitting patterns (both US and UK), this stitch is one of the most helpful hacks that every knitter must have in their repertoire. All you need is your knitting needles and of course yarn. You can work with any single-pointed, double-pointed, fixed circular, or interchangeable needle. It is a very simple technique, and as the name indicates, you just slip a stitch onto the knitting needle without actually working it.

In knitting, slip stitches are used in a variety of ways, though the idea remains the same - slip the stitch to the other needle without working on it. Working with stainless steel knitting needles allows you to enjoy stitch-making and even slipping them smoothly all the more. The stitch is used for knitting back and forth (flat) for neat edges and to join stitches for the round (circular knitting) with double-pointed needles. The technique is used to create an even edge on your finished garment or create shapes or attractive, colorful patterns, or even tighten the last stitches of the round. 

How do slip stitches? 

A knitting pattern that calls for a slip stitch (sl), will usually indicate how to slip the stitch. In knitting, there are only two basic stitches - knit and purl, so the SL will also work similarly. If you are working on knit stitches then the stitch you slip will be done knit-wise and if working on purl stitches. Knitting patterns will instruct on how to slip stitch but if you have no clear instructions just follow the pattern.

  • Slip the Stitch Knit-wise - For this, insert the knitting needle into the stitch as if to knit (from the front to the back of the loop) but transfer the stitch without knitting. Make sure to keep the working yarn behind the work.
  • Slip the Stitch Purl wise - For this, insert the needle (from back to the front of the loop) as if to purl but then again slip the stitch to the other needle. Make sure that the yarn stays behind the work. 
  • Slip Stitch with Yarn in Front (WYF) or Yarn in Back (WYB) - WYF is the abbreviated form of "with working yarn in front" and WYB is "with working yarn in the back." The front and back position mentioned is not the front (right aka RS) and back (wrong aka WS) sides of the project. In this case, it refers to the placement of the yarn. 
  • Slip Stitch with Yarn on the Needle (WYON) - WYON refers to the position of the yarn over the knitting needle. This knitting instruction works on both sides - RS and WS of the pattern the same way. Hold the working yarn in front of the stitch and insert the needle into the next stitch from back to front as if to purl, and then slip the stitch onto the needle. Bring the yarn over from front to back and work the next stitch according to the pattern.


The slip stitch is a very simple technique that has you do nothing special but simply slip it off to the other needle. However, it allows you to make new designs and incorporate more colors into your knitted projects. So, here’s all that you can do.

What can we make with Slip Stitches? 

1. Colorwork Patterns 

Slip stitch is one of the most common techniques in knitting colorwork patterns. Refer to our blog on how to knit colorwork patterns. You can easily create styles such as Fair Isle and Mosaic with different yarn colors and slip stitches. The only drawback is that you’ll end up with a lot of yarn floats in the back. However, there are many tricks to manage these floats easily.

A good tip to follow when you are new to the slip technique of colorwork knitting always starts with knitting a gauge swatch with the knitting needles and yarn that you will be using in the project. This is useful for two reasons - first, it gives you enough practice, and second, you get an idea of how the project will turn out. After you work the slip stitch section of the pattern, gently spread the stitches to an even tension. Working with circular knitting needles for colorwork has bonus points. The needle length allows you to easily spread the stitches and view them clearly.

Knitting with Circular Needles

2. Textured Patterns

To create textures in knitting, there are many tricks of which slip stitch is the most commonly used. A combination of knit and slip stitches creates a dense nubbly texture with almost no stretch to it. The garter stitch texture has the appearance of vertical stripes. A pattern of knits and purls with some slip stitches makes a dense squishy fabric with horizontal stretch and has the effect of a woven appearance. Both the right (RS) and wrong (WS) sides of the pattern are visually pleasing with very different effects.

3. Neat Edges 

While the slip stitch is a beauty on its own, it lends neatness to any knitted edge. Whether it's a blanket, a scarf or even a dishcloth, the slip stitches on the edge make your knitting pattern look neat. Besides your regular knitted patterns, the slip stitch technique is a blessing for the double knitting technique when you are working with two yarns and creating two different knitted fabrics on either side.

4. Joining Stitches in the Round 

Slip stitch when knitting in the round allows smooth joining of the stitches. Whether you are working with double-pointed needles or circular needles when you get to the last stitch of the round, simply slipping the stitch offers a tight and neat finish. Just make sure you cast an extra stitch to slip or else you will be short of a stitch in the round.

The slip stitch in knitting has endless possibilities. It is worth giving it a try! It is always fun to learn new stitches and techniques but first make sure to work with smooth knitting needles and accessories. Explore the range of stainless steel knitting needles of the Mindful Collection. The pointy tips work with all kinds of yarn for all types of projects. If you feel lost or unfocused, the inspirational word imprinted on the needle body will help you enjoy knitting.

stainless steel knitting needles