In crochet, a slip stitch is one of the most important basic stitches you'll need to know.
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Slip Stitch Instructions
You can work a slip stitch at just about any point after you've begun your project. In the photo at left, I've been working slip stitches in white; I purposely chose a contrasting color so you can see how the stitches look. Ordinarily, I'd be working my slip stitches in a color that matches the project -- in this case, purple.
If you already have an active loop on your crochet hook, insert your hook into the spot where you want to crochet the slip stitch. Then hook your yarn as pictured.
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Pull the yarn up through both your project and the active loop on your hook. The two photos at left show the slip stitch in progress, while I am working on pulling the loop through.
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The slip stitch is now complete. The photo at left shows you how it looks.
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Uses for Slip Stitches
Slip stitch is versatile, and there are zillions of different things you can do with it. Let's look at some examples.
In the example pictured above, my main objective for using slip stitch was joining one side of the work to the other side. The yellow and purple striped piece was a rectangle crocheted in back loop single crochet stitch; I joined the sides of the rectangle to create a tube shape which, when completed, became a crocheted hat (pictured at left.) This particular design is called the team spirit hat, which explains the clashing colors; the recipient asked to have this hat made up in his favorite basketball team's colors. The free crochet pattern is available on our website; you are welcome to use it if you like. (Hopefully, your favorite team has attractive colors you'll enjoy wearing.)
Slip Stitches Used for Joining Crocheted Elements Together
Slip stitches are often used to join one crocheted element to another. My hat is one good example, but there are many other possibilities. Similarly, you might also use slip stitch as a means to join crocheted squares together or to stitch up the shoulder seams or sleeves on a sweater. If there's anything else you'd like to join, slip stitch is a good candidate for doing so.
Note that if you are joining two pieces together, you'll actually be crocheting through both pieces when you work each slip stitch.Continue to 5 of 11 below.
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Another example: Let's say you'd like to crochet a project that begins with a ring in the center, such as a granny square or hexagon pattern. Your project might begin with a small number of chain stitches that are joined to form this ring. Usually, you would use a slip stitch to create the join.
This tutorial shows you how to work a slip stitch to join the ends of a chain together in order to make a ring.
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Joining the End of a Round to the Beginning of the Round
When you're crocheting in rounds, slip stitch can be a big help. When you are finished crocheting a round, you might end up with a big space between the beginning of the round and the end of the round. You'll often use a slip stitch to close the gap between the first stitch and the last in the round.
See an Example: When crocheting this granny square, I've worked slip stitches at the end of each round as a way to join the beginning of the round to the last stitch worked in the round.
If you are working from a pattern, your pattern will specify whether to do this or not; sometimes it's not necessary to work a slip stitch at this point, for example, if you are working your rounds in a continuous spiral.
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Slip Stitch Used as a Design Element
Slip stitches are interspersed throughout a great many crochet patterns. Sometimes, they are used solely as a design element.
In the edging pictured at left, the scalloped edging is created by alternating slip stitches and shells comprised of half double crochet stitches. The design is visually interesting due in large part to the contrast in height between the two types of stitches. You can take a closer look, or get the free crochet pattern.
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Slip Stitches in Surface Crochet
You can work slip stitch on the surface of any fabric you can poke a crochet hook through -- including most crocheted fabrics, as well as most knitted fabrics. This is handy for embellishing your crochet and knitting projects; you can use slip stitch to outline shapes, as I have done in the examples pictured at left; in the "before" pictures, the heart shapes do not have outlines, and in the "after" pictures, the heart shapes have been outlined with slip stitch.
You can also use slip stitch to write names or initials on your crochet (or knitting) projects.
Want to see more examples, and learn how to do this technique? If so, check out my surface crochet slip stitch tutorial.Continue to 9 of 11 below.
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Slip stitch can be worked in either flat rows or rounds, and you can do all kinds of interesting and surprising things with it.
Pictured at left: An example for you to look at. This piece was worked flat in rows and turned at the end of each row. After I completed the starting chain for this fabric, the rest of the piece was crocheted entirely in slip stitch. To start off with, I worked into the back loops of the starting chain, then from there worked into the uppermost loops from the row before. It isn't always obvious (to me anyway) which loop is the back loop vs which is the front loop; according to James Walters and Sylvia Cosh, the uppermost loop is the back loop.
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Slip Stitch Edgings
I often use slip stitch as an edging around the outer edges of various crochet projects -- afghan squares, potholders, flowers and others. Why do I do this? There are several possible reasons.
- Sometimes, the outer edge of the item looks a little messy and could use tidying. It is possible to end up with jaggedy edges even if you're an expert crocheter, and you form each stitch perfectly. I don't care for the look of uneven edges; if my edges turn out looking jaggedy, and I'm not planning to add a more substantial edging to my project, the project is a good candidate for having a slip stitch edging added.
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If I've crocheted a piece that I want to whip stitch to another piece, a slip stitch edging can sometimes be a helpful addition. For example, if I've crocheted an afghan square in single crochet or double crochet, the top and bottom of the square are neat and easy to whip stitch through, but the sides aren't so nice and tidy. There's no clear-cut place to make each whip stitch, so you have to kind of just wing it. Working a slip stitch edging simplifies the process by giving you an obvious place to put each whip stitch when you proceed to join your squares.
Important Note: If you work a slip stitch edging around bunches of afghan squares, it's important to count your slip stitches and work precisely the same number of stitches around each square; this helps to ensure that your whip stitching will go smoothly.
As you can see, slip stitch is a highly versatile crochet stitch with lots of creative potential! I hope you'll have fun playing with all the possibilities.
References and External Links
- I learned how to work a slip stitch from my father's aunt, who taught me how to crochet.
- I learned how to work slip stitches in surface crochet at the time I first became interested in freeform crochet. I can't remember who exactly to credit, but it was probably books by either James Walters and Sylvia Cosh, or Del Pitt Feldman.