Tying A Slip Knot: An Essential First Skill

If you’re here, I’m assuming you’re dipping your tentative toes into the wonderful world of knitting or crochet — Hooray!

An incredibly rewarding path lies ahead of you, but before you can set sail on your new crafty adventure, you first need to find your sea legs, and much like actual sailing, that involves learning a knot or two.

Tying A Slip Knot: An Essential First Skill

I consider the slip knot to be the most essential early lesson in any knitting or crocheting career, even before you learn how to place your yarn on your hook.

Without this knowledge, you’ll struggle to get started with the most rudimentary project.

So, let’s discuss why this nifty knot is so valuable to your craft and how you should go about tying one. Stick with me and you’ll be whipping up your first yarn baby in no time!

Why You Should Learn The Slip Knot Before Anything Else

The reason I believe the slip knot is the ultimate first step for beginner knitters and crocheters is that it’s literally the first stage in creating the most basic of stitches… the chain (see also: How To Start A Crochet Chain)stitch.

What Are Chain Stitches?

Chain stitches are known as foundation stitches. Almost every single more complex stitch is built upon the chain blueprint.

If you want to add a number of impressive stitches to your crafty arsenal, you first need a comprehensive understanding of the chain stitch, and it all starts with the humble slip knot!

What Do Slip Knots Do In Chain Stitches?

As is the case with all knots, the slip knot’s job is to hold things in place, and in the context of a chain stitch, it will be preventing the chain itself from unraveling.

There is an exception here and there, but for the most part, you’ll need to tie a slip knot before you hook your yarn and get to work on a project.

There are a few different ways to tie a slip knot, but some are more complicated than others.

To make things as easy as possible on you, dear reader, I’ll be sticking to the method I believe to be the easiest of the bunch. But, before we dive into the guide, let’s run through what you’ll need.

What You’ll Need To Tie Your First Slip Knot

Don’t worry, you’re not going to need all that much to get started here…

Slip Knot Materials

  • Some yarn — If you’re working to a pattern, use the yarn suggested in the instructions, but if you’re just messing around with some freestyling, I’d recommend starting out with worsted weight yarn (see also: What Is Worsted Weight Yarn?)made of either acrylic, wool, or cotton.

It’s also a good idea to choose a light-colored yarn with minimal fuzz so you can see your knot clearly at all times.

Although the wacky-looking yarns are enticing, when cutting your teeth, it’s always best to start with the most basic yarn you can get your hands on.

Slip Knot Tools

  • A pair of scissors
Tying A Slip Knot: A Step-By-Step Guide

Tying A Slip Knot: A Step-By-Step Guide

I’m going to break the process down into digestible chunks, so you’re sure to nail your first slip knot on the very first try!

Step 1: Placing The Tail

Unravel a length of yarn (about 6 inches is just the ticket). Place your hand out in front of you with your palm facing inwards. Keep your thumb up so your hand forms the shape of an L.

Take the tail of your yarn – the tail being the end unattached to the ball of yarn – and drape it over the middle front of your fingers with about an inch of the tail dangling below your pinky finger.

Step 2: Locking The Tail

Next up, close your pinky finger around the tail of the yarn to hold it firmly in place.

Step 3: Wrapping The Yarn

With the working end of the yarn – the working end being the side of the yarn attached to the ball – form a loop by wrapping the yarn around the backs of your fingers from top to bottom then back up to meet the yarn on the front of your fingers.

Step 4: Holding The Loop

Bring your thumb down on the connective point of the loop to secure it in place as you continue.

Step 5: Positioning The Working Yarn

With the tail still held by your pinky and the circle of yarn held together with your thumb, use your other hand to position the working end of the yarn beneath the circle.

Step 6: Pulling It Through

Push the working yarn through the bottom of the loop with your index finger. Once it breaches the circle, use your free thumb to hook the working yarn in place momentarily until you get a better grip on it.

Pinch the working yarn and pull it further through the loop. At this stage you should have the original loop and the additional loop created when the working yarn was pulled through it.

Step 7: Tightening The Slip Knot

It’s the second loop that you’ll be manipulating, and you’ll do so with your first loop. Pull on the first loop to tighten the second, but be sure to place a finger in the second loop to prevent it from unraveling. 

Step 8: Hooking Your Loop

All that’s left to do is replace that finger of yours holding the second loop in place with your hook, then tighten the loop so it gives the hook a snug hug, and voilà; you just tied your first slip knot — woo!

While the slip knot doesn’t technically count as your first stitch as it’s more of a stopper to keep the very beginning of your project from unraveling, you’re now ready to construct your first chain stitch and officially begin your project — How exciting!

Slip Knot Tutorial Summary 

Just in case you got lost somewhere along the way, here’s a quick summary of the steps detailed above…

  1. Place your hand in front of you, palm facing inwards.
  2. Drape the tail end of the yarn over the front of your fingers.
  3. Lock the tail in place with your pinky.
  4. Make a loop by wrapping the working yarn over the back of your fingers.
  5. Hold the loop in place with the thumb of your holding hand.
  6. With your free hand, position the working yarn beneath the loop.
  7. Pull the working yarn through the bottom of the loop.
  8. Put a finger through the new loop.
  9. Pull the original loop to tighten the new loop around your finger.
  10. Replace your finger in the new loop with your hook.
  11. Pull on the original loop again to tighten the second loop around your hook.

Can You Tie A Slip Knot Directly On The Hook?

You can indeed tie a slip knot directly on the hook rather than using your finger as an intermediary, but, as I mentioned earlier, this is by far the most accessible method for beginners.

Once you have this easy method down, feel free to experiment with the more advanced methods. 

Final Thoughts

There you have it! The stage is set for your very first stitch, one of many I hope.

From this point on, you’ll never have to buy presents for loved ones ever again, as you’ll jump at any opportunity to whip out your hooks and get crafty.

In terms of progression from this point, your obvious next move is to master the chain stitch, a technique you can use to make entire projects, but after that, I highly recommend moving on to the single crochet stitch or “sc” for short.

It’s quick, it’s easy, and it opens up whole new worlds of crafty potential.

Nancy Adriane
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