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.
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.
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.
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:
If it does not come out even, round up the next whole number.
There are four methods used when you want to increase stitches while you are knitting.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
To enhance your knitting experience and ensure successful projects, investing in quality tools and resources is essential. Here are some recommended tools and resources:
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!