How to Increase in Knitting:  4 Methods to Master

How to Increase in Knitting  by Janice Jones |Updated 08-25-2023

What do you do when you have a pattern that tells you to increase but doesn't tell you how to do it? Which increase should you use? This article will look at several different increases and determine which increase works best in the designs we want to knit.

Knitting creates new stitches when you use one of many different increase methods. Increasing and decreasing are necessary for shaping knitted fabric, such as widening a sleeve or forming necklines. Increases and decreases, however, are not entirely evident for the beginner knitter.

It can be done in a few different ways. Depending on your purpose for increasing, some of the increases will slant towards the left (left-leaning increase), others will slant to the right (right-leaning increase) and still, others will not slant at all.

How Visible are the Increases

knitting with blue yarn

Some increases are almost invisible, whereas others are meant to add a decorative touch. Most increases used in garments are worked on the right side, and there is a good reason for this.

First, it's easier to keep track of your increased rows, especially if you make them at regular intervals, say every other row.

Second, seeing the finished look on the right side is easier. Do follow the pattern's recommendations, though, as the designer may have a reason for deviating from the norm.

Important Note. Videos on this page show you different methods of increasing rows of knitting.  While the two videos  demonstrate English knitting style, they are still the same as the Continental Style if you just watch how needles and yarn interact and do not pay attention to fingers. 

A word about Mirroring

When making increases in a garment, the increases on the left side should mirror those on the right.  This makes the garment look symmetrical and is easy on the human eye as we instinctively look for symmetry.

Where To Place Increases in Knitting

Usually, the pattern will give you directions as to where and when to place on increases.  If it does not, the rule of thumb is to never place increases in the first or last stitch of the row.

It's much neater to knit two stitches, then increase, work to the end of the row, where there are two stitches left, make your increase, and then knit the last two stitches.

Here is a little formula that I learned from Arenda Holladay.  Don't worry, you don't need a degree in advanced mathematics to make this work:

  1. Subtract one from the number of stitches to increase across the row. So, if the design calls for increasing ten stitches, 10-1=9
  2. Divide this number by the number of stitches on the needle. For example, if you have 72 stitches on the needle, divide 72 divided by 9 = 8.
  3. You should plan on eight stitches between each increase.

If it does not come out even, round up the next whole number.

How to Increase in Knitting:  Four Methods

There are four methods used when you want to increase stitches while you are knitting. 

1. Yarn Over Increase

The traditional yarnover increase method is the easiest of all to implement. A stitch can be added either on a knit or a purl row.


Wrap the yarn over the right-hand needle and knit the next stitch while on the knit row.

If purling, take the yarn over the right needle in the same direction as you usually do when purling. (This type of YO requires you to wrap in the same direction but continue wrapping until the yarn is in front so you can make the next purl stitch. Then, purl the next stitch.

This method produces little holes in the place where a yarn-over was made. It works well for lace patterns, in case you need to make some decorative elements. It is usually not a good choice if you want a solid piece of fabric.


  • It creates little holes which can be a decorative touch when making lace.


  • It creates holes

2. Working into the Front and Back Loop:  Bar Increase (Also known as Knit Front Back or kfb increase)

This type of increase is likely the first and the easiest way to make increases. It differs from the ones that follow in that it does not slant either to the right or left. It is called a bar increase because you can see a bar that looks like a purl bump after the increase.

You may see this increase done on sweater patterns where the ribbing ends and the first row of the pattern stitch begins. The knitting pattern may not indicate exactly how to do this stitch but may say something like "increase five stitches evenly across the row."

This stitch is usually made on the knit side of the fabric but can also be done on the purl side.

Bar Increase Tutorial:  On the Right Side

Insert your right-hand needle into the front of the stitch as normal. Wrap the yarn counterclockwise as if to knit, but do not remove the stitch from the left-hand needle.

Next, insert the right-hand needle into the back of the stitch and wrap the yarn, but this time, you will slide the stitch off the needle. Then, knit the same stitch through the back loop and slip the stitch off. The following row is worked normally.

On the purl row: do the same, but use a purl stitch.

You can repeat this process to increase the number of stitches you need.


  • It is easy to make
  • It blends in nice if done in a ribbing row


  • The bar or purl bump is visible
  • It leaves a hole at the base of the purl bump
  • Stitch below the increase is smaller
  • Requires planning especially if the pattern calls for a certain number of increases evenly spaced along the row.

Planning Your Bar Increases

Unless a pattern specifies it, do not increase in the first stitch at the beginning of a row. Likewise, increasing in the last stitch at the end of a row is not a good idea. This is a common mistake since most patterns don't tell you where to place the increases.

Rather, knit or purl a couple of stitches and place your first increase. Why? Increases in the first or last stitch can be unsightly. It also makes finishing harder to do. Seaming is much easier if you have a straight salvage on which to work.

Learn more about bar increases or kfb 

3. Increase a stitch. Make 1 (M1) Method

Increasing a stitch can be used if a hole is not desirable for your design (For example, you wouldn't want holes in a warm winter sweater). They are worked using the horizontal bar or strand of yarn between two stitches.

You can do a M1 in three ways: open, right-slanting, or left-slanting.

This increase is made between two stitches on the row you are working on below.

Look at the horizontal strand of yarn between the stitches below the loops on the needles. Lift this bar onto the left needle, then knit (or purl) into the back of this loop.

The video below demonstrates how to increase a stitch in a knit row using Make 1 (M1) method.


4. Lifted Increases

Lifted increases can either be left-slanting or right-slanting. These increases are worked in the "V" of the stitch just below those stitches on the needles.

Right Slanting Increase

This is similar to the M1 increase above, but instead, you are working in the "V" below the stitch on the needle rather than the little bar between the stitches.

These are usually worked on the right side of your work, but follow the pattern if it differs from this rule.

  • Locate the "V" below the stitch where you want to make the increase.
  • Lift the right leg of that V onto the needle.  
  • Insert the right needle into the stitch and knit the stitch.
  • Knit the stitch, which is still on the needle. You've made your right slanting increase.

Left Slanting Increase: 

  • Locate the V just below the stitch in the location where you want to make the increase.
  • Knit that stitch.
  • Now, locate the V below that stitch. (Do not pick up the "V" of the stitch you just made. Rather, pick up the left side of the "V" in the row just below the one you just made"
  • Lift the left leg of that "V" onto your needle 
  • Knit that stitch. You just created a left-slanting increase.

Knitting Patterns That Utilize Increasing and Decreasing Stitches

Now that you have a solid understanding of increasing stitches, it's time to explore knitting patterns that use these techniques.

From delicate lace shawls to cozy sweaters, countless patterns showcase the beauty of shaping through increases and decreases.

Look for patterns incorporating different stitch patterns and techniques to challenge yourself and expand your knitting repertoire.

Recommended tools and resources for knitting

To enhance your knitting experience and ensure successful projects, investing in quality tools and resources is essential. Here are some recommended tools and resources:

  • High-quality knitting needles: Invest in a set of good-quality knitting needles that suit your preferred knitting style. Choose needles made from materials such as bamboo or metal, depending on your personal preference.
  • Stitch markers: As mentioned earlier, stitch markers are invaluable when it comes to keeping track of your stitches. Invest in a variety of stitch markers, including both removable and fixed types.
  • Knitting books and online resources: Expand your knowledge and skills by exploring knitting books and online resources. There are countless tutorials, videos, and blogs available that provide step-by-step instructions and inspiration for your knitting projects.


Knitting is a versatile and rewarding craft that allows you to create beautiful and unique garments and accessories.

Mastering the art of increasing stitches opens up a world of possibilities in knitting, enabling you to shape your projects and add intricate details.

By following the expert tips and tricks provided in this article, you can perfect the art of increasing stitches and take your knitting skills to new heights.

So grab your needles, choose your favorite yarn, and let your creativity soar as you embark on your next knitting adventure. Happy knitting!

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