The First Step to Knitting: The Slip Knot

Posted by on Jul 17, 2013 in Knitting | Comments


In knitting, we always try to avoid making knots in our yarn. We join yarns by knitting with both the old and new yarns for several stitches. We weave in the ends of our yarn rather than tying knots. Knitting and knots don’t mix – except at the very beginning. The very first step in any knitting project is to make a slip knot.

A slip knot is created by looping yarn around itself.

At the beginning of your cast-on row, the slip knot visually fits in with the other stitches, as all knitting is looping yarn around itself to bind it into a fabric.

There are a couple of ways to hold the yarn as you make a slip knot, but they all function the same.

First, here’s the way I do it:

This slip-knot method has become so automatic to me, I don’t have to think about it.

Step 1: I use my left hand to set up the slip knot, draping the tail of my yarn up and over the palm of the hand.

starting slip knot

 

Step 2: Continue by bringing the yarn down behind your hand and then up in front of your fingers.

slip knot

 

Step 3: Now cross the yarn over the first strand, from right to left.

making slip knot

 

Step 4: Then, on the backside of your hand, cross the yarn over again and pull a loop through.

slip knot loop

 

That loop you have just pulled through is what will go on your needle as your first stitch.

You can also make the same knot on a flat surface.

Step 1: With a good length tail, make a loop in your yarn.

Slip Knot on a Flat Surface

 

Step 2: Pick up your loop and place it over your yarn.

Making a Slip Knot

 

Step 3: Pull up that bar of yarn that is in the middle of your loop.

Finished Slip Knot

 

Step 4: Place it on the needle and pull the working end of the yarn to tighten it, making sure you leave yourself a good length tail. (I like my tail to be about 6 inches long.)

Other knitters might teach the slip knot yet another way, but no matter how you hold the yarn, you’re always doing the same thing: creating a loop at the beginning end of your yarn and then pulling another loop through that. As soon as you put your needle through the loop of the slip knot, a tug on the working end of the yarn should pull it snug.

One thing to remember when you are done with your knitting project and weaving in ends: be sure you don’t start weaving in the tail by taking it back through the slip knot!

For more videos and graphics of knitting basics, don’t forget to check out our post on knitting fundamentals. And to learn more knitting essentials, enroll in Knit Lab: Projects, Patterns & Techniques with Stefanie Japel.

Do you have a different way of holding your yarn to create a slip knot?

Comments

  1. Andrea says:

    I actually almost never use a slip knot. For most of the cast on techniques that I use (including long tail types and seamless in the round types), I simply drape my yarn over the needle and give it a half twist, then proceed as if I had a slip knot on the needle.

  2. Cynthia Diane Lowe says:

    Knots can be completely avoided in knitting–especially in the beginning. If the work is begun with an open loop, instead of a knot, the seam that is created stays absolutely neat. Also, if there are any later revisions or additions to the project, on or near the cast-on edge, the finishing is neater because no tiny bubble is created by trying to rework yarn near the initial slip knot. For twenty-two years, I have taught all of my students to avoid ALL knots, including the slip knot, in their knitting.