Oh Increases. They always make people a bit scared. They seem so daunting! But, they make so many things possible in your knitting. It allows you to shape items, like hats or sweaters. It allows you to knit lace. It allows you to add a bit of movement and texture. They are very important and very versatile. In general they are easy to do, but there are so many ways to do them, that it can become overwhelming. Let’s walk through your main options.
Before I begin, I want to give you some clarification on some terms I will be using. I will be saying “front of your work” and “back of your work” a lot. This is not actually in reference to a particular side of your work. This is simply a reference to the side of your work that is either closest to your body, or farthest from your body. As you hold your piece up, you will always have one side that is facing directly towards you. This is the front. At the same time, you will have a side facing away from you. This is the back. However, as soon as you turn your work to do your next row, the side now facing you is your new front. This is simply a directional thing. When we name an actual side of the work, we always use the term right side and wrong side. Those terms will define a side and are never changing. These new terms are just to give you a way to keep your bearings on where your yarn is going to be placed.
I am going to start off with increases. When you do increases, you have the option of leaving holes in your work, or not. Leaving holes in your work is how you can create that airy look of lace knitting. That is typically done with what is called a Yarn Over (usually abbreviated as YO). This is simply an action of moving the yarn around your needle, to wrap it. Then you will knit or purl it when you come back around to it in your next row or round. As with anything in knitting, everyone has their own preference of how to do it. I am going to show you the way that I do it, but if you want to see other options, simply head over to You.Tube and you will be able to search for ‘how to do a yarn over in knitting’. That should give you a bajillion results. 😀
My preferred way of doing a yarn over, is I move my yarn to the opposite side of where I want to be, and then work the next stitch as it would normally be worked. For example, if I am going to be knitting the next stitch, I will move my yarn to the front of my work (towards my body). Then I will insert my right needle into my left stitch to knit, as I normally would. As you can see in the picture, the yarn is sticking out towards the front, sitting under the needle when you go to knit the next stitch.
To work the stitch, the yarn will go over the needle from the front of your work, up and over towards the back, and then wrap around the needle. You then pull your stitch through. The yarn will now be on the back of the work, where it would normally be when knitting.
You are now left with the stitch you just worked, plus an extra loop of yarn just hanging out on top of your needle.
If your next stitch is a purl, it works very similarly. Move your yarn from the front of your work to the back (away from your body).
You will then insert your right needle into the next stitch as you would to purl any other stitch. As you purl this stitch, the yarn is going to look like it’s just sitting in behind the needle. But, when you pull your stitch through, you want to give just a bit of a wiggle of the yarn, and you will get a yarn over the sits on the top of the needle from the back to the front, and then you will have your purl stitch.
The Yarn over stitch has an added component, compared to the other increases. When you work your next row or round, you now need to deal with this extra bit of yarn hanging out. The other increases all just create a new stitch, and you’re done with them. But, this one needs one more step. The beauty of doing the yarn over as I have it written, you can just work the loop as you normally would. For example, if you are knitting, you will just insert your needle into the loop as normal and knit.
KFB and PFB
Next up, let’s talk about the Bar Increase. You will often see this written in abbreviated form as a KFB or PFB. KFB stands for Knit Front and Back. And the PFB stands for Purl Front and Back. This increase is made by working two times into a single stitch. Let’s start with the KFB.
To begin, you will work the next stitch as you normally would knit a stitch. However, you do not drop the stitch that is on your left needle.
Slip your needle back into that left stitch, by going through the back of the stitch, and then wrap your yarn as if to knit.
You can now drop the stitch from your left needle. There are two stitches where there was once one. As you can see, one of those new stitches has a bar across it, which resembles the purl stitch. This is what gives it the Bar Increase name. This is a great increase for making a more hidden increase with no holes. It keeps your knitting tight and compact and very neat.
M1R and M1L
Another option for an increase is the Make 1 Right (M1R) and Make 1 Left (M1L). This creates a twisted stitch that will twist either to the right or to the left. I use this a lot in sweaters when I am knitting from the neck down. It gives the look of an angled set of stitches, and is a nice detail. This does potentially leave a bit of a hole in your work, but it’s not as drastic of a hole as the Yarn over creates.
To do the M1R and M1L stitches, you are going to be pulling up yarn from the row you just worked. If you separate your stitches a bit, you will see that there is a strand of yarn between each stitch just sitting there.
To Make 1 Right (which is a twist that goes to the right), slip your left needle under that bar of yarn from the back of your work to the front of your work.
This loop of yarn now sits on your left needle, and you will slip your needle in just like you would to knit a regular stitch. This will twist the yarn to the right and give you a more solid stitch compared to the yarn over.
You now have a new stitch that is nestled into your work, and is twisted to the right.
To Make 1 Left (which is a twist that goes to the left), slip your left needle under that bar of yarn from the front of your work to the back.
In order to get the twist in this stitch you are going to knit through the back loop. Using your right needle, slip it into the loop of the stitch that is towards the back of your work. Normally you would go into the front, but this time, you will be going through that back loop. Wrap your yarn around your needle, and pull the new loop through.
You now have a new stitch that is twisted to the left.
Those are all the main increases that I am going to cover for now. They are all the main ones that you will see most often. I hope this helps to add some more stitches to your resume, and will allow you to expand the patterns that you look at. I will be doing a post on decreases very soon, but quite often, when you have a yarn over, you are going to have a decrease with that to create your lace motif. When you are working lace, it is quite common that you don’t want to actually increase your stitch count, but you just want to make a nice detail. Be on the lookout for the next post, which will be coming soon!