How to Decrease on Circular Needles

Learn how to decrease on circular needles from circular knitting expert Jessica Kaufman in this Howcast video.


So, I'm going to show you how to work decreases on a circular needle. The thing to remember is that there is no edge. Right? Because if we're knitting in the round, there's no right edge or left edge to have to balance decreases on. But there are a few different ways of doing decreases, and this is all pattern-dependent and garment-dependent. So I'll show you a few different ways of arranging your decreases.

This is a hat that I knit in the round on a 60-inch circular. So, I knit around and around with a knit two, pearl two ribbing, and then I knit a long section of straight stockinette. And when I got to the top, it was time to start decreasing evenly in my round. So, I took the number of stitches that I had around, divided it by whatever number seemed to fit evenly into there, and I just did a decrease every inch or do . . . or that looks like every half inch or so. And that made even decreases around the top. And that's to bring together things in sort of concentric circles the size of your rounds.

You can also stack them and make them directional, like the top of this mitten. This has left-leaning decreases on one side that are stacked up every other round. And this has right-leaning decreases on this side that are stacked up every other round. And that makes a directional decrease that's repeated on this side of the mitten, left-leaning decreases and right-leaning decreases. And you actually don't work the decreases any differently than you would on straight needles, except, remember, that there's no beginning or end of the sides of your project here. You just have a round that goes around and around.

So, I'll show you my favorite ways of decreasing. This is my favorite right-leaning decrease. I'll do a couple of them. This is knit two together, and that makes the stitches on the left eat the ones on the right, so it kind of leans to the right.

And then there's a few different ways of working a leaf-leaning decrease. One is a slip, slip, knit. So I'm going to slip a stitch as if to knit; slip a stitch as if to pearl, and then I'm going to knit them through the back loop. This makes a left-leaning decrease where the stitch on the right is eating the stitch on the left; therefore, it leans to the left.

And then you can also just knit two together through the back loop, which does the same thing but gives you a slightly different look. Here you can see that the stitch that sits on top is crossed at the bottom, as opposed to slip, slip, knit, where it's open at the bottom.

And if you'd like to see exactly how to do those decreases, they are in another video on right-leaning decreases and left-leaning decreases. But you don't have to work them any differently when you're in the round than you do when you're knitting flat.

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