taking a close look at k2tog through back loops
Back when I made my first Sunrise, I noticed that the k2togtbls weren't nearly so neat and clean as the k2togs on the opposite side. Since they form the border between the arm and the half-circle on one of the fronts, this discrepancy was really noticeable.
Now that I'm redoing it (it was a gift; turned out to be too small), I've decided to work on all the little things that could have been done better the first time around, and cleaning up these stitches is a high priority.
So, in case anyone else is interested, here's the results of my research.
I tried 4 different left-leaning stitches. They're the stitches that are slightly 'bigger' than the others along the left side of the column, and they appear every other row—if you click on the photo you can see the Notes I made on the photo in Flickr. Starting from the bottom, we have
* A standard k2togtbl. I was trying to keep the stitches only on the tips of the needles, but I'm not sure how successful I was. This stitch looks big to me, and it's exactly how all the stitches on my completed Sunrise look.
* An ssk. For this one, I slipped just the first stitch knitwise, then k2togtbl.
* A true ssk. Here I slipped both stitches knitwise and then k2togtbl.
* An off-standard k2togtbl in which I worked the purl row before differently: I wrapped the yarn backward on the two stitches that would be knit together, so that when I came to knit them they were already turned and the tension was taut. I got this tip from the Knitty boards.
I didn't try an ssk in which I slip the first stitch purlwise and the second knitwise; I should have tried that, I'm sorry.
But for me the choice is clear: Since I can predict where the k2togtbls will go on the next row, I can easily wrap the yarn in the opposite manner for the purls on the row before. I could still use to finesse my purl tension vs. my knit tension for those stitches, but all in all this creates a nice, smooth, tight little decrease that I'm pleased with.
I hope this is helpful to others who are starting and might want to play around with this decrease a bit.