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Why Slip First or Last Stitch in a Knitting Pattern (Slip 1)?

Katy has been knitting and crocheting for 10 years and selling her items at local craft shows in Colorado for three years.

Want to create a neater edge when knitting? Learn why it's important to slip stitch the first or last stitch of each row.

Want to create a neater edge when knitting? Learn why it's important to slip stitch the first or last stitch of each row.

How to Make a Neat Edge When Knitting

Slipping the first or last stitch of every row is the secret to creating a neat edge when knitting!

Patterns usually call for a slip stitch in the first or last stitch of the row. This is to create an even edge on the finished garment. These are often found on stockinette or similar edges. Creating a pretty edge is especially important for items like scarves and knit lace. Learn more about slipping the first or last stitch and other variations you can use.

How to Slip Stitch (Slip 1)

Many flat knitting patterns add instructions to slip the first stitch. The pattern will often specify "slip the first stitch purlwise" before continuing with the regular stitches. Other times, patterns just begin each row with sl1 (the abbreviation for slip 1 stitch).

Start/End a Row With a Slipped Stitch

Most flat knitting patterns will use one of these formats in their instructions:

  • <stitch pattern>, sl1
  • sl1, <stitch pattern>

Now you know that those are there to keep the edges of your finished project tidy.

Why Do Edge Stitches End Up Loose?

If knit normally, many knitters end up with a garment that has loopy and uneven edges. This is because even if you deliberately focus on pulling even tension at the end of the row, there ends a varying amount of tension when you begin the next stitch.

Another reason the edge of a stockinette stitch comes out looking so uneven is the knitter was not consistent with how they started and ended a row. Especially for beginners, it is common to start rows by going in front the front and to end a row going in front the back. Some strange things happen when there is only one stitch left on the left-hand needle. These variations create a bumpy, unattractive edge.

Skilled knitters compensate for the uneven tension problem by treating the edge stitches differently. If you're knitting flat (which I assume you are because that's the only way to get edges!), the edge stitches are the first and last stitches on your needle. These will be treated differently in a knitting pattern.

A stack of neatly edged knit goods.

A stack of neatly edged knit goods.

How Does Slipping 1 Stitch Get a Clean Edge?

We know variations in tension will result in sad, loose edges despite our best efforts, so how does starting or ending with one slipped stitch fix that?

Slipping a stitch means it isn't knitted that round. No extra yarn is added. So a slip stitch will naturally pull the yarn a little bit tighter from one row to the next. This results in a consistent tension and stitch size from row to row. Hence, a lovely edge!

Using little tips like this will help you get your finished items looking more and more professional. Maybe good enough to sell at a craft show if that's what you aspire to do.

Knit the Chain Edge

The Chain Edge is a slight variation on slipping the first stitch to create a neat edge. The only difference is the knitter needs to hold the yarn in front when slipping the first stitch; the next stitch is knitted through the back loop like normal.

The extra step to pull the yarn in front and slip the stitch purlwise just cleans up the edge a little further. It forces the knitter to do the same thing every time the piece is turned, resulting in a more consistent edge.

Knitting supplies.

Knitting supplies.

Add An Edge to Any Knitting Pattern

Sometimes a knitter comes across a pattern they really love that is knitted flat but doesn't have an edge fix. Add your own by deciding what kind of edge you want and adding the appropriate number of stitches to make it work.

A simple chain edge or slipped stitch is easy: just add two stitches to the pattern's instruction and remember to slip the first stitch.

As you knit more garments with a polished edge, you'll get used to treating the edges differently. There are even more methods out there for creating a pretty edge on a blanket or scarf, and most of them use a slip stitch to pull in the extra yarn.

A fringed knit scarf.

A fringed knit scarf.

How to Fix an Uneven Knitted Edge

If you've already knit the piece and realize after that your edges are uneven, it's too late to use a slipped stitch edge. But there are still a few things you can try to fix it:


Fringe added to a blanket, scarf, or purse can hide an ugly edge. Find tips on how to add fringe. Choose a yarn that is the same color as the knitted item. Make sure the yarn is tied completely around the edge to bind it together.

Add a Crochet Edge

If you have some basic crocheting skills, you can add an edge after the knitted piece is complete. Try single crochet or a half double all the way around the piece to tidy things up.

Block Your Knitted Piece

This is really a last resort because it has variable results. Get the knitted piece wet and block the edge as evenly as you can.

In some materials like acrylic, locking isn't a permanent solution. The piece will eventually lose its shape again.

© 2018 Katy Medium


Katy Medium (author) from Denver, CO on September 29, 2019:

Hi Davina,

Slip First Stitch Knit Wise means for the first stitch in each row, insert your right needle as if to knit and instead of yarning over to add a stitch just skip it onto the right needle and start the pattern with the next stitch.

I hope this helped!

Davina on September 29, 2019:

I am not vey at knitting

my pattern says


not sure what that means

Guri on August 20, 2019:

Plz more difference in weaving and knitting in points