on 3-to-2 cable/decrease hybrids, part 1

Several years ago, I came up with a decrease because I wanted to decrease a single stitch without having the decrease lean to one side or the other. I thought of it as a centered single decrease, and went looking to see what other people called it because I figured it must exist. And indeed, it was the bunny ears decrease. It can also be described as a 3-to-2 decrease because you start with three stitches and end with two.

I also worked out a way to combine a 1/1 cable cross with a decrease in the same pattern. I’ve since come to realize that it could also be called a 3-to-2 decrease; just a different kind.

I’ve recently had reason to use it again in something else I’m designing, and I thought I’d share the method here. There are multiple permutations and so I’m going to spread them over a couple weeks.

If you know of a name for this class of techniques, please comment or let me know on Ravelry or social media.

In the two Bunny Ears decreases, the center stitch is knit together with each of the two outer stitches (one has a left-leaning decrease followed by a right-leaning decrease, the other switches them). The maneuvers I describe in this post are different.

The basic principle is this: rearrange the three stitches so that the center stitch is knit by itself and the outer two stitches are knit together. This makes eight possible combinations, depending on three things:

  • Whether the decrease is left- or right-leaning (ssk or k2tog)
  • Whether the k1 or the decrease is worked first
  • Whether the k1 crosses in front of or behind the decrease

I’ve come up with a tentative notation based on the cable notation I like to use, because the rearrangement of the stitches is cable-like. A standard abbreviation in that notation is 1/1 RC.

The first number in that notation says how many stitches are crossing in front. The second number says how many are crossing behind. The RC says that the front stitches lean to the right.

To give one example, I’m going to use ssk/1 LC to indicate that the decrease will be a left-leaning decrease, that it will cross in front of the center stitch, and that it will cross to the left.

In some of these methods I use a cable needle because I’ve never taken up cable knitting without one; if you’ve learned to cable without a cable needle, I’m sure that can be adapted to this.

I’m also assuming that your stitches sit on the needle like this, with the right leg in front and the left leg in back (if you’re a combination knitter, you’ll need to work out how to do the rearrangements.)

In the instructions, I’m going to refer to the first stitch on the left needle as A, the second as B, and the third as C.


  • A: the original first stitch on the needle
  • B: the original second stitch on the needle
  • C: the original third stitch on the needle
  • k2tog: knit 2 stitches together as if they were 1. (Right-leaning decrease)
  • ssk: slip each of the next 2 stitches as if to knit, then knit them together through the back loop. (Left-leaning decrease)

k2tog/1 RC

I’ve colored in the stitch columns in each duplicate photo. The red is the center stitch that gets moved to one side or the other, the blue is the stitch that gets decreased away, and I’ve left the yellow alone that gets knit together with the blue. My hope is that this will help show what happens.

  1. Insert the right needle into C as if to knit, but then skim the needle in front of B to also insert it in A.
  2. Knit C and A together, but only slide A off the left needle.
  3. Knit B, then remove B and C from the needle.

ssk/1 LC

  1. Slip each of A and B as if to knit.
  2. Insert the left needle into A and B from the front as if to knit them together, but
  3. Slip them together back to the left needle. They have changed places so that B is first on the needle.
  4. Knit B, then work an ssk decrease with A and C.

1/k2tog RC

  1. Slip A purlwise.
  2. Slip B purlwise onto cable needle and hold it in front of work.
  3. Slip A back to left needle
  4. Knit B from cable needle
  5. Knit C and A together.

This one and the next are much subtler in appearance, but I’m including them for completeness.

1/ssk LC

  1. Slip A knitwise.
  2. Slip B purlwise onto cable needle and hold it in front of work.
  3. Slip C knitwise and finish working an ssk with A and C.
  4. Knit B from the cable needle.

Here are the remaining four permutations.