When working with crochet stitches, the little slip stitch tends to get many of us crafters in a tizzy. It’s just a tiny place marker stitch of little significance, right? It’s not the most impressive, outstandingly beautiful, or most impressive stitch to learn to create, but it has great significance.
Generally speaking, slip stitches are most commonly used to connect two ends of a row/round when making something like a hat, for example. To make slip stitch (abbreviated “sl st” in patterns):
With a loop on your hook, insert your hook into the next stitch, pull up a loop, and then pull the yarn through the loop on your hook. Little sl st created.
If this stitch is so small, why even use it? Why do you need it at all? Why not use a fancier stitch like a double crochet or even, oh, the popcorn stitch? Well, even though they are tiny and don’t seem to serve much of a purpose upon first observation, they are rather versatile little guys. As I mentioned previously, the main objective to using a sl st is to join one side of your work to another. Think of it as a little bridge. Without it, the two sides of your work just don’t go together and you’ll be left with an unattractive hole in your work.
Slip stitches can also be used to “sew” several pieces of work together, such as squares to make up a small baby blanket right on up to a King bed size afghan. Without the humble sl st, the pieces would just be small squares that wouldn’t be a very much use nor would they keep you very warm.
The most impressive, yet still humble, use for the sl st is as a design element. Since a sl st is the smallest stitch used, it lets the larger, more extravagant stitches shine. With the sl st nestled between the fancy stitches, it is not as likely to be noticed in comparison to the other stitches unless you look closely. You may have to even pull the other stitches apart to find the sl st happily hiding in the shadows.
The last project I completed required a lot of slip stitches. As I was working on this particular piece, I was reminded of the Biblical story of David and Goliath. The account of the great battle between the Israelites and the Philistines can be found in 1 Samuel, Chapter 17. The Philistines were proud of their giant warrior, Goliath, which the Bible describes as being “six cubits and a span” tall with “bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels; on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels.” Goliath was an impressive chunk of man flesh standing approximately 9 foot tall, clad in heavy armor that weighed about 175 pounds combined, and with an arrogant attitude… and the Israelites were terrified.
Goliath demanded that the Israelites choose just one man to fight him. “If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us,” Goliath shouted. This went on for 40 long days and nights. Goliath was just too big, too impressive, too strong.
Now, comes young David. He had brothers fighting on the Israelite side and Jesse, their father, sent David with some food (“ten cheeses”) to the commander and to check on this brothers “and bring back assurance from them.” David got up that morning and left their flock of sheep in the care of a shepherd, loaded up the food, and set out to check on his brothers. When he arrived, the two sides were facing each other, weapons drawn. David left his supplies and ran to the battle line to see about his brothers. “As he was talking with them, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath, stepped out from his lines and shouted his usual defiance, and David heard it. Whenever the Israelites saw the man, they all fled from him in great fear.”
That’s when the youth David, stepped up and said, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”
Whoa! Hold the phone, David! This giant Goliath has been trained to be a warrior since he was young. David, you are just a young boy!
That’s when David told Saul of the Israelite army that “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”
Imagine that kind of faith. Saul felt it, too. He helped David prepare for battle by dressing him in a typical battle attire – a suit of armor, a bronze helmet, and a heavy sword. The armor was so heavy, that David couldn’t walk around in the armor. Instead, he took it all off and asked for 5 smooth stones from the river.
So, David stood before Goliath “glowing with health and handsome” with a stick and a handful of rocks and Goliath was offended and despised David. Goliath yelled at him that he was going to give David’s flesh to the birds and wild animals. David stood and proclaimed, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”
David ran towards Goliath, taking a stone, placing it into his sling, and let it fly. Could you imagine the breathless moments as the stone flew through the air and them landed with a thud into Goliath’s giant forehead… and then as 9 foot tall Goliath fell face first into the dusty ground.
Goliath was an impressive beast. David, the slip stitch.
There are so many lessons to be learned from this story, but the one I want to make is that no matter how insignificant or lowly you seem and feel, just remember the little slip stitch and David. You don’t have to be a fancy stitch, just a faithful small stitch will do.