Question re: slipping first stitches

Hi guys,
I've recently gotten into the habit of slipping the first stitch of every row, and I've been slipping knit-wise. Is there a general rule about slipping first stitches knit-wise or purl-wise? Always one or the other, or in pattern (i.e. slip knit-wise if the pattern calls for a knit and purl-wise if the pattern calls for a purl)?


DeceptiveCookie's picture

If a pattern doesn't say specifically if you need to slip knitwise or purlwise, you want to slip the stitches purlwise. If you slip knitwise, you'll end up changing the direction of the stitch and twisting it when you knit the next row.

Bobohead's picture

I'm quite new to knitting, so take this for what it's worth - I have been slipping the first stitch knit-wise and purling the last stitch of each row, regardless of what the pattern calls for. It gives a nice neat edge. I'd like to know if others do this, or something like it.

Tom Hart's picture

Yep. That's what I do with my double knit, flat projects. I purl the last stitch with both yarns (of a two color project) and slip both yarns knitwise on the first stitch. Makes the edge look crocheted.

james's picture

The rule I was taught (which I believe is an EZ thing) is that you slip purl-wise unless you are slipping as part of a decrease (such as ssk) in which case you slip knit-wise.

KnitteryNinja's picture

Unless the directions say otherwise, you always slip a stitch purlwise.

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

One of my books mentions slipping the first stitch knitwise and knitting the last stitch to create a "knotted edge". The idea is that it makes it easier to seam edges together with mattress stitch, as well as darn in ends more easily. As long as you remain consistent, it shouldn't matter, if it creates a look that you like. -- Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

There is no general point of slipping the first stitch.
If there is a reason, then so be it.
There may also be a reason NOT to slip the first stitch.
The rule of all knitting is to see what happens when you do something and to evaluate it based on the needs of the project.
Slipping the first stitch is often good (but not necessarily always) in a flat piece like a scarf or blanket which the selvage has to look good.
Slip k wise or p wise? Experiment! I'll tell you one piece of concrete advice when NOT to slip the first stitch and that is along an edge where you will be attaching (either by picking up stitches or even sewing) another piece of knitting row wise to stitch wise. What I mean by that it an armhole for a sleeve or perhaps a button band for a cardigan. The typical ratio of stitches to rows is 2 stitches for 3 rows, e.g. pick up and knit 2, skip 1, repeat. If you had slipped the stitches along that edge you will have one half the number of selvage stitches making it impossible to pick up the number of stitches needed.
In general the answer to almost any technical question is find out for yourself. As an experienced knitter of over 25 years I still swatch every detail of my projects even though I know all of the principles. For instance I sometimes would use ssk for a decrease and sometimes slip 1 psso. I find one preferable over the other depending on the pattern and the yarn that I am using.
Every project therefore becomes an experiment.
I am sorry if I've bored you. This approach is not for everyone.
I remember the knitters of my mother's generation who went to the yarn store and just wanted to be told what to do next.
This is not me and I suspect no longer represents the usual attitude to our craft.
Good luck.

rc_in_sd's picture

Thanks for all the input. Drumpointer, I appreciate the detailed response, and you're right, the best way for me to know is to try it. Onward!

jwhassjr's picture

When knitting flat, I slip the first stitch of every row as if to knit (this is the technique EZ used invariably as referenced by the grand dame herself in the School House Press DVD A Knitting Glossary), unless otherwise specified by the pattern. This twists the stitch, and gives a nice firm selvedge. I also have never encountered problems with stitch to row ratios employing this technique. As a matter of fact, I find it much easier to knit up along the selvedge when slipping each first stitch knitwise because it creates a very uniform edge that I find quite easy to follow when keeping count of the number of rows in relation to the number of stitches to knit up.