Our yarn doctors report that one of the regular questions they are asked at yarn shows is about doing neat increases.
For most knitters, their first experience of increasing is by accident when they create a stitch and (inevitably a hole) by knitting into some part of the knitting that isn’t a stitch or by accidently wrapping some yarn round the needle between stitches.
Once they’ve learned to avoid these problems, knitters will tend to learn one type of increase but this can be confusing because different patterns can call for different increases and if you don’t understand the technique you can end up with unintentional holes.
Kfb – knit front and back
This form of increasing uses one stitch to make two. You first knit normally into the stitch but instead of dropping the loop off the left hand needle at the end, you knit into the back of it first, creating two stitches from one.
It is important to remember that this method uses an existing stitch to increase. It is most commonly what is meant by “inc 1” or “inc in next st” in patterns but it is important to check the pattern to make sure.
This method of increasing creates a little horizontal bar at the base of the new stitch, to the left, as you can see above. This means you cannot create exactly symmetrical lines of stitching which some designers prefer. However it is a neat increase method.
M1 – make 1 stitch
A “make 1” increase uses the space between two stitches to create a new one. The left hand needle is inserted under the “bar”, the horizontal strand of yarn between two stitches, and then you work into that new loop to create a stitch.
There are two ways to do this:
- Insert tip of left need from back to front of workIn this case you knit the “new” stitch normally .
This will give you an increase that leans slightly to the right as on the right hand side of the swatch picture above.
- Insert tip of left need from front to back of work
In this case, you knit into the back of the new stitch, creating an increase that leans slightly to the left (as pictured above).
It is very important to work into the new stitch as indicated because this will twist the picked up yarn – otherwise you will create a small hole in your work.
The left and right leaning increases can be useful when symmetrical increases are needed. In some pattern instructions you will see these abbreviated as M1R and M1L. Always check the pattern notes to be sure you understand which version is needed.
Remember that a make 1 increase doesn’t use any existing stitches.
Yarn over increase
This is an intentional version of those accidental increases we started with.
A yarn over increase is worked by simply putting the yarn over the needle between two stitches and working into it on the next row creating a new stitch with a hole below. It is most commonly used in lace and is often paired with a decrease.
Remember to always read the pattern carefully to check what type of increase ins required.
You will find our Yarn Doctors on the UK Hand Knitting stand at the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show at London Olympia, 2-5 March 2017