There were no centred decreases in Russian knitting decades ago. At least, not according to an old Russian knitting book that explains the basics of a traditional Russian knitting style.
Apparently, knitters were not worried about perfectly symmetrical decreases in their projects. They were more concerned about finishing their knits before the cold weather sets in. So whenever they needed to decrease two stitches, they would simply knit three stitches together.
It is a great way to shape knitted fabric, but it has a distinct slant that does not look nice in some cases. Our projects will look much neater when each double decrease is centred around one vertical stitch especially when these decreases are stacked on top of each other.
Here’s how we can make these beautiful decreases step by step.
If you prefer to learn from a video tutorial, click here or scroll to the bottom of this page to watch an embedded version of the video.
With the yarn at the back of the work, insert the tip of the right needle from left to right under the back leg of the first stitch on the left needle.
Take the left needle out leaving this stitch on the right needle.
Use the same method to slip one more stitch from the left needle to the right needle.
Insert the tip of the left needle from left to right into the two stitches that we slipped in the previous step.
Remove the right needle out of these stitches leaving them on the left needle.
In this step, we’ll slip these two stitches one more time, but we’ll slip them together and we’ll do it knitwise.
Insert the tip of the right needle from left to right into the first two stitches on the left needle, as if you plan to knit them together.
Take the left needle out leaving these stitches on the right needle.
Knit one stitch through the back loop as we normally do when we knit stitches using the Russian knitting style.
After slipping stitches back a forth to make sure they are oriented correctly, now we will eventually turn three stitches into one so that one stitch is centred with the decreased stitches positioned at its sides.
Insert the tip of the left needle from left to right into the second and third stitches on the right needle (these would be the stitches that travelled between the needles in steps 1, 2 and 3).
Pass these stitches over the knitted stitch and off the right needle.
In the next row, purl this stitch the Russian way if you work back and forth, and knit it if you work in the round.
If the pattern you follow instructs you to knit this stitch in the next row or purl it in the next round (to work in the garter stitch), do what our grandmothers did and simply knit three stitches together.
The perfectly centred double decrease will be lost in the texture of the garter stitch, so choose the easiest way to decrease two stitches. After all, that’s what Russian knitting is all about – simplicity and efficiency.
To learn more about the Russian knitting style, consider taking a detailed online course Russian Knitting Simplified.