4 ways to increase
Increasing is the key to making a project take shape, and different increases look very different. Designers aren’t always clear about which way they want you to increase, so it’s worth having a few methods in your skill set. We asked expert knitter Elizabeth to show you four ways to increase.
For simple projects, it often doesn’t matter how you increase. Once you start working garments, lace patterns or textured stitches, increasing becomes part of the beauty of the design, and it’s important to choose a method that suits the pattern.
There are many ways to increase, each with slightly different properties. Here are four that are straightforward to do. One or another will work in most situations, but do tell us which is your favourite in the comments!
1. Yarn over
This is such a simple way to increase that may new knitters do it without realising. After knitting (or purling) a stitch, simply wrap the yarn around the needle once, then knit (or purl) the next stitch as usual. Treat the extra loop like a normal stitch on the next row.
This method tends to make a nice, round hole and is often used for lace work. It’s usually written ‘yo’ in pattern abbreviations.
2. Knit the same stitch twice (or three or four times…)
Another really simple way to increase. The key is to not drop the stitch off the left-hand needle until you’ve knit (or purled) into it the required number of times.
- Knit front and back (kfb) – probably the most common. Knit into the front leg of the stitch as usual, then into the back leg.
- Knit then purl (K1, P1 into next st) – knit into the stitch, then purl into it without dropping it from the needle.
You can work more than two stitches into one, so for example you could turn one stitch into 3 (K1, P1, K1 into next st) or 5 (K1, P1, K1, P1, K1 into next st) or more, as long as you can keep fitting the needle through the loop!
3. Lift the bar
Between two stitches, you’ll find a ‘bar’ or thread joining them. Lift the bar onto one needle, and knit or purl into it to make an increase. This is often called a ‘make one’ or ‘m1’ increase, although it’s not the only increase with that name.
If you simply lift the bar up, it will act like a yarn over and make a hole (although usually a smaller one than a yarn over).
If you twist the stitch as you lift it (as shown in the video below) there won’t be a hole. In stocking stitch, an m1 increase visibly leans left (M1L) or right (M1R) depending on how you twist it.
4. Backwards loop increase
Elizabeth Zimmerman called this the ‘make 1’ (M1) increase, and some designers still use that name, while others don’t. After knitting (or purling) a stitch, make a loop of yarn and slip it onto your needle such that the long tail is closer to the existing stitch that the short end. On the next row, treat it as a normal stitch.
Last updated: March 6th, 2015.