k2tog, ssk, psso, yo. How do these hand knitting terms translate to machine knitting?
Whether you are hand manipulating lace on your machine or you are creating your own stitch patterns, (either punchcard or electronics), it’s important you understand how lace is formed on the machine.

k2tog, psso ssk, yo. These terms may be mysterious to you, but as a machine knitter, if you want to use hand knitting patterns, it’s critical that you understand what these terms mean and you’re able to translate them to machine knitting techniques.

The concept of deliberately making holes in your knitting. Also known as lace, is the same no matter whether you’re using two sticks or a knitting machine.

We’ll talk about three common knitting techniques and how to work them on the machine.

First, if you’re lucky enough to have a standard gauge machine with a lace carriage, the lace carriage will make all the transfers for you. But it’s important that you understand what’s happening between your patterning device, punch card or electronics and the needles on the needle bed and the lace carriage.

Let’s look at how lace works on all machines, no matter how the needles are selected or transferred.

First is a yarn over, also known as an eyelet on the machine. Anytime you have an empty needle and work and you knit across the row, the working yarn will travel over that needle. When you knit the next row, that strand becomes a stitch and you have an eyelet. Now, to empty the needle, you need to knit two stitches together somehow.

Have you heard the term right-leaning decrease in the left leaning decrease? This refers to both the position of the decreased stitch in relation to the yarn over and the direction it’s leaning or the direction it was transferred. In hand knitting, we refer to knit two together as a right leaning decrease. Slip, slip knit or SSK as a left leaning decrease. When you’re hand knitting, these depend on how you insert your needle into the stitches and form the decreased stitch. Also in hand, that end, you’re looking at your knitting from the right side, public side or the knit side of the work. So left and right leaning makes some sense. But for machine knitters, the purl side of the knitting is facing us, so we have to think a little backwards.

Picture this, use a transfer tool and remove a stitch from its needle. Transfer that stitch over to its neighbor. Either right or left it doesn’t matter. Okay. Look closely and the stitch you transferred. Remember we worked from the purl side. That stitch is hiding behind the stitch next to it. This would be like a yarn over, then the two together in hand knitting. We’ll examine why this matters in a minute.

Now, if you’re getting a little overwhelmed, hang in there with me.

Let’s for now, let’s take a look at a two-step machine knitting transfer. This time we’ll first transfer stitch and then move both of those stitches to the empty needle to reposition the upcoming yarn over.

So when you knit the next row and these two stitches are knit and we look from the knit side of the knitting, notice that the front-facing stitch is really defined and it’s leaning to the right.

This would be the equivalent of an SSK, yarn over sequence for hand knitters.

Now, why does this matter? In this sample I used the simple one-step transfer method. First I transferred, right, and then I transferred left. In this sample, I used the two-step transfer method, and you can see the more defined stitch pattern.

Looking at more complex lace patterns. You can see how this does make a difference.

Okay, so it’s the direction of the stitch transfer in relation to the position of the eyelet or that yarn over that determines the appearance of any lace sequence.

The best way to really understand these concepts and apply them to creating your own lace patterns with electronics or punch cards or even hand manipulation is to try them.

Happy knitting.