Is There a Difference Between These Stitches?

So, I'm looking at an SSK and K2TOG through the back loop and I'm not seeing a difference. Is there a subtle one that I'm missing or are they the same thing?


fuzzed's picture

According to, there is a difference in the way the stitches are oriented when you knit them together. If you look at the "decreases" page here:, when you watch the video for the SSK she shows the stitches as being slipped KNITwise. In the written descriptions, she explains that just knitting through the back loop twists the stitches in an odd way and causes that zigzag decrease line.

It's a very subtle difference, to be sure, but it does affect the finished knitting.

Buck Strong's picture

Good thing I asked. I did a few rows doing it through the back loop and it does produce a zig zag effect. My guess is that when it gets blocked, a fair amount of that effect will be taken care of.


To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring-it was peace.
~Milan Kundera

To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring-it was peace.
~Milan Kundera

Actually where I have seen k2togtbl the most is in some very old British baby patterns where they wish to decrease on both the right and wrong side. K2togtbl matches better with P2togtbl that a SKPO.

purlyman's picture

Wow... I would've never even noticed to think to ask. It's like a Zen Koan or something!!


MMario's picture

Some of the old lace patterns use nothing except k2tog. no left leaning at all.

As a rule-o-thumb - the finer your yarn in relation to the needle the less noticiable the different decreases will be.

MMario - I'm not divorced from reality - we're having a trial separation

AKQGuy's picture

Fuzzed is hitting on the point. There is a VERY subtle difference of how the final stitches lay. Basically, both will get you a left leaning decrease. Knitting 2 together through the back loop if you look really really closely twists the final stitches. The leaned decrease actually helps hide this. If you slip the little buggers so ther right leg is on the back of the needle before knitting them together through the back loop, it negates the twist. So, in the end, its up to you. My theory, as long as you do the same through the entire project so they all match, do what works for you. And if anyone wants to have their nose that close to your work to scrutinize it, you don't want them as a friend so who cares abouth their thoughts on your work

Have fun decreasing, increasing and all other 'ings' you have going on.

CLABBERS's picture

Hi Buck
I wondered the same thing while working on my current project, a pair of slippers. The pattern calls for using the ssk to decrease the toe as I head into the toe from the right (looking down). Then working around the toe to the left the pattern calls for k2tog. The two make the same looking stitch while making a ridge. When used like this, the toe cup is formed quite nicely. Mind you, I am new to this craft, and my eye is anything but trained, but it seems the two stitches complement each other well.

In the middle of the toe, I use the p2sso double decrease.

Thank you fuzzed for the link to the knitting help site. I had forgotten about it. It does a great job clarifying things.


Masala's picture

I use the SSK on the right neck shaping of my latest sweater. Simply because it was in the pattern and did make the decrease go to the right direction. Sid

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

Good discussion. The slight difference from knitting through the back loop isn't so noticeable when doing garter stitch, which is why a lot of Shetland lace patterns call for it if you want to do paired decreases. That is because garter stitch was used most often to give the fine lacework some durability...and make it faster to knit. Sharon Miller's book explains it better than I can. -- Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

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

Kerry's picture

Even within SSK there is a least one variation I've come across, the most common used is slip2 knitwise then put the left needle through the front of the loops slipped and knit. A Nancy Bush Estonian lace pattern I'm currently working on uses slip1 knitwise, k1, pass the slipped stitch over.

But as MMario says the finer the lace the less noticeable the result is.

MMario's picture

That's skp not ssk

MMario - I'm not divorced from reality - we're having a trial separation

Kerry's picture

Thanks for that Mario, Nancy Bush doesn't call it anything, just gives a symbol for it on the chart. The longer I knit the more complexities I come across.

hsfg's picture

Check out later post

bobinthebul's picture

Cat Bordhi has a great video that shows how to deal with a common problem encountered with SSKs, the looseness and inconsistency in their orientation in comparison with K2TOG. It's called "Hungry Stitch." At first it looks like a lot of extra work but it's not really. I love to use it on the gusset decreases on socks, where they stand out like a sore thumb. With toe decreases I don't usually bother. The video is here: