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The First Step to Knitting: The Slip Knot

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?



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.


You and me both, Andrea 🙂 I do the same” half-twist loop”to start my crocheting, too! I’ve been knitting and crocheting for 48 years now and our technique has always served me well.

— Della

Cynthia Diane Lowe

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.


I know this is pretty old, but I’m very much a beginner and having a very odd problem. I’ve just been practicing making little squares, and yesterday I began a bigger one. I got about five rows’ worth of knitting into the square when for some reason I suddenly had a huge loop at the bottom that I couldn’t correct, so I started over. Each time I’ve tried since then — having varied nothing about the way I started out — I keep ending up stuck when I reach the slipknot, even though I have not changed how I created the slipknot. The first time I began, I did NOT have this problem, and each time I’ve tried again I have completely unraveled and started over — so what in the world keeps going wrong?


My slipknot keeps coming out when I go to join he round..why is this and how can I fix it?


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