How to Increase a Stitch
in your Knitting.

Last Updated by Janice Jones, 03-12-2021

To increase a stitch simply means to add a single stitch to the row of knitting. Increasing and decreasing are necessary for shaping knitted fabric: widening the sleeve of a sweater from the wrist to the shoulder, forming the armholes and neck lines, and so on. It can be done in a few different ways.

knitting with blue yarn

Are Increases Visible?

Some increases are almost invisible where 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 just easier to keep track of your increased rows especially if you are making them at regular intervals, say every other row.  Second, it's just easier to see the finished look on the right side.

Important Note. Videos presented on this page show you different methods of making increases in a rows of knitting.  While two  videos  demonstrate English style of knitting, they are still the same for the Continental Style if you just watch the way needles and yarn interact and do not pay attention at fingers. :)

There are three the most often used methods of increasing the stitches while you are knitting.

1. Yarn Over Increase

This method is  the easiest of all, to implement. A stitch can be added either on a knit or on a purl row. Take 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 it when purling. Then purl the next stitch.

This method produces a small hole on that place where a yarn-over was made. It works good for the lace patterns and in case you need to make some decorative elements.

2. Working into the front and back loop

  • The front of the stitch is the loop closest to you.
  • The back of the loop is the one farthest from you.

This method will also leave a hole on place of increase. To make that hole beneath the new stitch smaller, you can just twist the new stitch. Or it can be left untwisted over a larger hole. To make increase,

On the knit row: knit the stitch as usually through the front loop, but don't transfer it to the right needle. Then knit the same stitch through the back loop and slip the stitch off.
On the purl row: do the same, but use a purl stitch.

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

This method of increasing a stitch can be used if  a hole is not desirable for your design (You are going to knit a warm winter sweater, for example).

Look at the little bar 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.

Video below demonstrates how to increase a stitch in a knit  row using Make 1 (M1) methods.

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