So you want to knit 5: Increases

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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.

Yarn over
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!

So you want to knit 4: How to count your stitches

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As promised, I am going to talk about how you count your stitches. This is helpful for when you lose your place, which will happen often. You’ll need to know how to count your stitches to get back to where you were in the pattern. Ideally you would mark off the rows on your pattern to let yourself know you finished them, but if you are anything like me, you’ll get really focused on your knitting and forget. Or you’ll get involved in a TV show part way through a row, or the ever dreaded person talking to you. haha! I will use the dishcloth pattern as the example of how to count your stitches. Moving from knits to purls can be more difficult when you start out, because you will need to know what loops to count, and which to not.

First up, is counting knit rows. Each knit stitch will make a V shape that makes it easier to count. However, when you have finished a purl row and have moved on to knitting, it’s not as simple as counting the V’s. This is where we need to dive into the anatomy of a stitch. As you may have noticed, whenever you knit or purl a stitch, you end up with the old stitch under your right needle, and a loop on your right needle. Every time you have the same type of loop on your right needle, regardless of what the stitch is under it. So, when you purl a stitch you are going to have the knit stitch buried a bit, and might have to stretch your work to count the knit stitches.
Here is row number 1:

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Row 2 (you can see how the knit from row 1 buried itself again):

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Row 3:

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Row 4:

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When you are switching from knit stitches to purl stitches, you will have what looks like a 5th knit stitch directly under your purls. This is actually part of the purl stitch and is not counted as a row. This was the stitch that was on your needle that you purled into to get a new loop on your right needle. You will see that the top half of it is actually covered by a purl bump, and looks like this when you stretch it out:
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Next is how to count purl rows. Purls will create zig zag of bumps on your knitting. I pick one line of bumps and count those to keep things straight.

Row 1:

Row 2:

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Row 3:

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Row 4:

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Now that we have the rows, we need to know how to count stitches. This is very much the same thing, except now instead of work our way up to the needles to count, we count from right to left. 😀

Purl Stitch 1:

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Purl Stitch 2:

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Purl Stitch 3:

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Purl Stitch 4:

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Knit stitches will be counted in the same manner.

Knit Stitch 1:

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Knit Stitch 2:

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Knit Stitch 3:

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Knit Stitch 4:

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That is how to count all of your stitches within the dishcloth. A big part of being able to count your stitches in your work is being able to recognize the different stitches. As we progress through different stitches, like how to increase or decrease the number of stitches to make designs in your knitting, I will also make sure to do a post on how to recognize those stitches. Being able to tell what the stitch is will be incredibly helpful as you increase the difficulty in your knitting. You want to be able to look at your work and be able to quickly figure out where you left off.

Now, while this is the way that I count, you may find that others will count differently than this. As I showed you how to count the purl rows, I actually did it differently than I normally do, but visually this was the best way to see what was happening. As we increase difficulty I will get into more stitch anatomy and you will be able to decide for yourself exactly how you want to count your stitches. But, this way is just really good visually for you to be able to see each knit stitch, for example, in its full open V glory. 😀

I hope this has helped you to be able to continue learning your craft and to know where you are in your work!!

Shortie Socks

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A couple weeks ago, I decided that I needed some ankle socks. So, I set out to design a pattern that would work well for me. I just wanted something simple, but something that would sit just above the ankle bone and stay there, as best as it could. Ankle socks are tough, because there is very little leg structure to keep the socks up. Calf length and higher have more space to tighten around the leg and hold themselves, but ankle socks are going to take a lot of strain for shoes, and just general walking. As you walk, socks will move and shift normally, even store bought. I also had some left over yarn in the Bis-Sock line, in the Hudson’s Memories colorway that I did not want to waste. I had about 44 grams of this left, which is about 200 yards. It was just enough to get these done. I started toe up and went to work. I have listed this sock as a free pattern that you are more than welcome to grab and try. In the pattern, I do recommend that you knit for a half inch (0.5″), after finishing your heel, because this will give you just a tiny bit more space for your sock to hold steady. But, since I was working with scraps, I decided to work my cuff immediately after finishing the heel. It seems to work well, but if I wear them in shoes, I think they will be forced to slide down.

I hope you have fun making them! Since this pattern has no design (a vanilla pattern), it is great for every kind of sock yarn. Stripes show up great, variegated yarn will be able to shine, and speckles will speak for themselves. 😀

So you want to knit 3: How to follow a pattern

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Now that you have been practicing your knit and purl stitches, it’s a good time to learn how to read a pattern. There are lots of patterns out there. And by lots, I mean LOTS. You can find them at places like Ravelry or Lovecrafts. The beauty of these sites is that you can search all the patterns that people have listed based on what you want. You want a dishcloth made with size 6 needles, on cotton yarn? Sure! How about a scarf that uses bulky yarn, and size 10 needles, but it’s free? Sure! And yes, there are quite a few free patterns out there for everything. If you don’t know what you want, other than perhaps a scarf pattern that is easy, and can be purchased online? Well, you can search for that too. It can really help you to narrow down your options, and get rid of perhaps some of the more complicated projects that you do not feel comfortable with yet. Once you have your pattern, though, what do you do with it? How do you follow a pattern that someone has written? Thankfully many patterns follow a very similar scheme, and will mostly only vary for a designers stylistic choices. For example, every pattern should have a glossary that tells you what their abbreviations mean. This glossary can be nearly anywhere in the pattern. So, before you begin, it’s a great idea to read the entire pattern. Look for the glossary, where the actual pattern directions start, and look for the details on gauge. I’ll get to the definition of gauge as we read through this simple dishcloth pattern that I have created for you.

This dishcloth is made using a pattern of stitches that is called “Waffle Stitch”. It’s a series of knits and purls that will give you raised and sunken areas to give your dishcloth some texture. But, it uses no techniques that you have not been introduced to you. It’s all knits and purls. 🙂 Okay, so here is the pattern:

Beginner Dishcloth

Yarn: Knit Picks Preciosa Tonal Worsted, 100% Merino Wool (273 yds/100 g): 30 yards, colorway “Pluot”.

Needles: US 8 / 5.00mm straight or circular needles.

Notions: Tapestry needle (for sewing in ends)
Stitch marker (to mark Right Side of work)

Size: 6″ x 6″ square

Gauge: 18 stitches / 26 rows per 4” in stockinette after wet blocking.

Stitch Glossary:

K – Knit

P – Purl

RS – Right side of your work.

WS – Wrong side of your work.

Edge:
Using the Long-tail cast on, cast on 36 stitches.

Knit 4 rows.

Body:

Row 1 (RS): K4, *k4, p4; to the last 8 stitches, k8.
Row 2 (WS): K4, *p4, k4; to the end.
Row 3: K4, *k4, p4; to the last 8 stitches, k8.
Row 4: K4, *p4, k4; to the end.
Row 5: K4, *p4, k4; to the end.
Row 6: K4, *k4, p4; to the last 8 stitches, k8.
Row 7: K4, *p4, k4; to the end.
Row 8: K4, *k4, p4; to the last 8 stitches, k8.

Repeat Row 1-8 3 more times.

Edge:

Knit 4 rows.

Finishing:

Bind off. Weave in your ends, and block as desired.

Phew, that’s a lot of weird stuff in there. Okay, let’s start at the top. I start all my patterns with a list of materials. You will see lines for Yarn, Needles and Notions, but also Size and Gauge. The yarn listed is what I used to create this dishcloth. This yarn is a worsted weight, and I used 30 yards of it in the Pluot colorway. You don’t have to use this exact yarn, but it does give you a starting point. You will want to find a yarn that is listed as a medium weight, it might have a symbol on it with the number 4, and you will want to have at least 30 yards of yarn. How much you need will vary a bit, so you will want to have more than that, just in case. Next is the Needle section. I used size US 8 / 5.00 mm needles for this project. This directly correlates to the section title Gauge. Gauge is how many stitches or rows you have worked to get to 4″ in length or height. This isn’t as important in a dishcloth, but it is great to understand, because if you ever want to advance to garments, then it will be extremely important. When you are measuring your piece for gauge, you place a tape measure, or a gauge tool (picture 2) on your work. You can then count how many stitches are in that 4″ measurement. Now, when I am making something smaller, like socks, I will actually only measure the stitches in a single inch and then multiply it by 4 to get an approximate 4″ measure. The 1″ method is not as exact, but when you have a sock that is barely 4″ across, it can get very cumbersome. When you get to the skill level of making a piece that is going to require you to measure gauge, I highly recommend the gauge tool. It allows you to place the gauge and measure both stitches and rows at the same time.

As I said, for the dishcloth, and for starting out gauge is not going to impact what you are doing. But, it is still good to know what it means if you don’t match the number of stitches or rows. For this pattern, I have 18 stitches per 4″. What happens if you have 15 stitches? If you fit fewer stitches in your 4″ block, that means your stitches are actually bigger than mine. In order to shrink your stitches, you will need to decrease your needle size until you get 18 stitches per 4″, perhaps only needing to go down a single size, such as a US 7. If you have more stitches, let’s say 22 per 4″, you have too tight of a stitch, and will need to increase your needle size, perhaps only to a US 9, or perhaps more. You will hear people talking about swatching, and this is where the gauge will be measured before you even start your piece. This is to see how your fabric turns out with the yarn you chose. You will knit a 4″ x 4″ square and measure your rows and stitches. And honestly, it’s like you just made a mini dishcloth! A swatch is very important to do for every single project where size is important, because your knitting can change based on the yarn you are using, and even your mood, or if you are like me and have a painful condition, my pain levels will dramatically change how tight or loose my knitting is.

Okay, so shove that bit of information into the back of your brain for later. When you go to something more advanced, hopefully your brain will remind you that you need to come back and look at how to get gauge. 😀

The next part of this pattern is the Stitch Glossary. As I mentioned before, this can appear in various locations on patterns, and is purely the stylistic preference of the designer. I tend to have mine on page 2 of my patterns, so that you get to it faster. This will give you the definitely of every abbreviation I have used that is important for you to know. As you can see, this one is pretty short, but some can be pages long, depending on the complexity of the pattern. Some of the stitches, if they are specialized, may also include instructions on how to work the stitch. Be sure that you are familiar with everything in the glossary, and have ready through anything with instructions.

Then you get to the body of the pattern. This can be broken down in many ways, but this one is simply the edge, body, edge and finishing. Simply start at the top and work your way through line by line. Step one is to cast on the number of stitches in the method you are told. Some patterns will say specific kind of cast ons, and some will just say something like “using your favorite stretchy cast on”. After your cast on has been completed, move on to the Edge section, and Knit 4 rows. This means Knit every stitch across the entire left needle. Then turn your work, and knit across all the left stitches again. Each time you go across all the stitches is one row. So, you will knit across, turn, knit across, turn, knit across, turn, knit across, and turn, ready to move to the next section.

The body section has instructions for 8 rows. Since you already have your piece ready to work the next row, you will follow the instructions as written. You knit 4, and then that little asterisk there? That tells you that you have stitches that will be repeated between that asterisk and the semi colon. So, knit 4, then purl 4, until you have only 8 stitches remaining on the left needle. You will actually be repeating this twice for this pattern, so Knit 4, purl 4, knit 4, purl 4, and then go to the next part, which says to knit 8. That uses up all your stitches, and you can now turn your work. I have also specified that Row 1 is a RS (right side) row. In order to keep track of whether you are on the right side or wrong side, I recommend placing a piece of yarn or a stitch marker on to the right side of your work. That is a great visual reminder. Continue on to Row 2, working it as written, doing the repeat again between the asterisk and semi colon until it tells you to stop, which in the case of Row 2 isn’t finished until you have completed the entire row. Work until you have completed Row 8. You will see after Row 8 there is instructions to “Repeat Row 1-8 3 more times”. This means that you are going to go back to Row 1 and knit those 8 rows all over again, 3 more times. After this, you are back at the Edge, and will do the same as you did for the first Edge section, and you will knit 4 rows.

Next is your bind off. You can use the same bind off that I mentioned in the last section, and it will work totally fine for this. So, you now have a finished dishcloth, but you have 2 ends that are dangling off. You will need to use a tapestry needle, and weave them through the stitches on the back of your work. I usually will sew them in through about 4 stitches, going down the work, then 4 up and then 4 down.

You may have noticed that I used some rather fluffy yarn for my sample. One reason is I don’t have any cotton yarn right now, and I had this hanging around as a leftover. The other reason, is that you can actually make these squares and stitch them together later for a blanket. You can also do this with all your swatches that you will eventually have. They can be sewn together for a patchwork type of blanket. That way nothing goes to waste. 😀

Here is how your finished dishcloth should look:

Okay, now that you know how to read a pattern, I’m going to pause here, before this post is super crazy long, and in the next post I will go into how to count your stitches. Because, inevitably you will get distracted and lose count. It happens to everyone…a lot. lol It’s important to know how to count your stitches of what you have done, so you can figure out where you left off. I’ll see you then! Thanks for reading!