The humble slip stitch has a few different uses in crochet and it’s an important stitch to know, as well as a very easy skill to learn.
About the Slip Stitch
The slip stitch is perhaps the least-thought about stitch in crochet. While being very easy to work and easy to get the hang of, sometimes the concept of a slip stitch is brushed over. Still, it’s a very necessary skill to know, and thankfully it’s extremely easy to pick up on. To that end, below you’ll find both uses for this little stitch and the steps for how to do it yourself. It won’t take long!
In crochet patterns, the slip stitch is often abbreviated as simply ss. As you’ll see below, it can be used to varying degrees in different applications. Often, it is simply used here and there as a sort of “anchor” for other stitches(because it adds virtually no extra height to your work). Sometimes, however, we may end of needing to use it a lot more.
Below I’ll go over a few specific ways we can see the slip stitch used in crochet. If you’d like to go straight to the (very short) steps of how to work this stitch or see the tutorial video, simply scroll down a bit more.
Uses for the slip Stitch
from what I’ve observed, the slip stitch is either used as part of a pattern, or to connect crochet in a way that is purely practical.
Slip stitches don’t really call a lot of attention to themselves. But, even though they aren’t eye-catching on their own, they can still create some striking visuals.
For one thing, slip stitches can be used as part of lacy patterns to anchor lengths of chain stitches and other airy combinations. Simple mesh and net patterns can also use the slip stitch to give structure to something that, otherwise, would just be a really long chain.
When worked in just one loop, rows and rows of slip stitches create a very dense, rather ridged fabric.
But, perhaps the best example of designing with slip stitches is surface crochet. Surface crochet is done when a continuous line of slip stitches is worked over the main piece of crochet(or knitting) to make a design. Lettering, stripes and plaids, and even whole pictures can be made with surface crochet.
Even while worked as part of a pattern, the slip stitch can often add to the durability of a project by being done securely, and even tightly. The trendy corner to corner stitch is a great example of this.
The second main use for the slip stitch is in connecting, or anchoring other stitches. Technically, the slip stitch is always doing this in some way, but not always as part of a pattern.
For example, crocheting in the round(as you saw in one of the pictures above) usually means slip stitching at the end of each round to close the circle of your work. This might be done is hats, boot cuffs, or anywhere else where we often crochet in small rounds rather than rows.
Slip stitches are also used to “sew” smaller pieces of crochet together. The pieces might be granny squares for a blanket, panels for a sweater, or a variety of other applications. Using slip stitches for seams are also used for anything that could have been worked in the round but wasn’t, like a hat. In these cases, the hook is put through the pieces of crochet that need to be connected, and the slip stitches show up in a continuous line when the project is finished. This technique is sometimes even used on knitted items.
Finally, a third use of the slip stitch is “moving” from one part of your work to another in a discreet way. By making a line of stitches the same way you would for crocheting a seam or working surface crochet, you can get to another place in the work without cutting your yarn. Personally, I tend to do this a lot because it helps me cut down on the number of ends I have to weave in later!
One word of caution though: if you use slip stitches for traveling, be careful that they aren’t too tight. In my experience, a line of slip stitches does not have as much stretch as the main crochet stitches you’re working on top of. Taking care to intentionally loosen your stitches a bit can help with this. But, it is still something to pay special attention to in crochet garments or anything else that needs to have plenty of stretch.
So, now that we’ve definitely established the usefulness of the little slip stitch, here’s how it’s done!
How to do the slip stitch
The slip stitch is two very simple steps:
Step 1: Inserting the Hook
From wherever your working yarn is already, you will slip your hook into your work, through whatever layers you need the slip stitch to go through. Depending on what you are doing, going under the front loops, back loops, both loops, or around stitches altogether are all different ways that you might do this. You will want to think of how “invisible” you want the stitch to be, and how much stress it might be under when it is being used.
Step 2: Pulling the stitch through
The other step to a slip stitch is drawing your working yarn through wherever you just decided the right place is. We do this just as we would for working a chain stitch: simply yarn over, and pull the yarn through your work and through whatever loop of yarn might already be on your hook from the previous stitch. Viola! That’s really all there is to it.
In the picture below, you can see the top of my row of slip stitches. The working yarn can also be seen coming straight through the previous row and up though one loop: my last completed stitch.
If understanding the slip stitch was a small-but-crucial piece that was keeping you stuck in your crochet journey, I hope this little tutorial has cleared things up for you. There’s always something new to learn with crochet!
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Keep the crafting delightful, and enjoy learning!