Have you ever knit a pattern that says something like “increase one stitch” or Make 1, but doesn’t specify what technique to use? Here are tips on how to choose which increase to use in your knitting.
Generally, when a pattern says “M1,” it’s referring to the Make-One increase, which is a specific technique. That’s when you lift up the running stitch between stitches and knit into the back of it (to twist it so it doesn’t make a hole). Some patterns specify mirrored increases, which would be written as M1R (make one right) or M1L (make one left). When the direction of the increase isn’t given, it’s either because the direction it leans doesn’t matter, the designer or tech editor doesn’t think the difference is significant or even know there’s a difference, or the designer expects you to know the difference for yourself and choose accordingly.
Mirroring increases can be fun and add just a little extra professionalism to your knitting. I usually choose to mirror them, just because I can.
When do you mirror increases? In garments that have paired sets of increases. For example, on each side of a thumb gusset. On each side of a sock toe. On each side of a shoulder. On either side of a waist… and so on.
When does it not matter if you mirror increases? When they’re spaced evenly around a garment. Like when increasing around a hat evenly. When increasing around a waist evenly. When increasing around a top-down sweater yoke evenly. You get the idea.
If you choose to mirror increases, how do you know which direction to point them? Good question. I like to point them towards the new fabric that’s being built. If I’m increasing a thumb gusset, I point them in towards the growing thumb, not towards the hand that isn’t changing in size.
If I’m increasing a top-down sweater, usually there are multiple pairs of increases: the sleeve increases and the body increases. I point the sleeve increases towards the growing sleeve and the body increases towards the growing body. If I point them towards the ungrowing area of stitches between the body and each sleeve, I find they make an extra line in the knitting that seems out of place. (But that could be construed as a “design element” by some.)
When I point them towards the area of growth, I find they blend in better.
What this looks like in real life is usually that the increases are pointing away from the stitch markers. We generally put stitch markers in places where they won’t move every time we increase, right? We put them on the edge of the area that won’t grow and leave them there while we make increases to either side. Now, this could change, depending on the pattern, so you’ll have to use your thinking knitter’s brain to determine where the areas of growth are. Don’t just blindly follow the stitch markers, okay? That generalization will only help you most of the time, not all of the time.
On the knit side:
Lift up the running stitch and place it on the left needle with its left leg in front (mounted twisted). Knit into the front of the stitch.
Tip: If you insert your left needle under the running stitch from back to front, it will be mounted twisted. It will be a little tight to knit into the front of it, so work near the tip of the needle, with your needles close together so you’re not pulling on the fabric. Keep the tension as relaxed as possible.
M1R on the purl side:
If you’re working this one as a purl, where its purl side will be its public face, it doesn’t matter which way you lean it because the lean won’t show. But, if you’re working it on the back side for some reason (say, as the increase on the purl side in double knitting), and it’s public side will be the knit side, this technique will have it lean right when you look at it from the knit side.
Lift up the running stitch and place it on the left needle with its left leg in front (mount twisted). Purl into the front leg.
On the knit side:
Lift up the running stitch and place it on the left needle with its right leg in front. Knit into the back of the stitch. (Put your right needle behind the stitch and knit into the back strand from right to left.)
Tip: If you insert your left needle under the running stitch from front to back, it will be mounted properly.
M1L on the purl side:
Again, this technique will have it lean left when you look at it from the knit side.
Lift up the running stitch and place it on the left needle with its right leg in front. Purl through the back loop. (Put your right needle behind the stitch and insert it from left to right into the back leg. It will feel incredibly awkward and twisty, and you’ll have to work it near the needle tip to give it enough looseness for it to work. Once the right needle is inserted, purl it.)
If the pattern doesn’t say M1, it will usually specify a different type of increase.
The Kfb increase (knit into the front and back, AKA the bar increase) is one that will be written into the pattern by name. Just follow the directions for it. Because it looks like a knit stitch followed by a purl stitch, it blends in perfectly with ribbing when worked in the last knit stitch before a purl section. It can also be used as a decorative increase when positioned by the designer to form a line of purl bumps in the midst of knit stitches.
The Lifted increase, or as Cat Bordhi calls it, the LRinc and LLinc, can be mirrored by you. However, this one will also be named in the pattern if the designer wants you to use it. Because it’s less common, it will also likely be described in detail in the instructions. Because the lifted increase uses the stitches in the row below as well, it isn’t always appropriate to use. It is best worked at least every 2nd row or more. When increasing every row, the M1 or Kfb would be better.
The Yarnover increase doesn’t need to be mirrored because… it’s just a hole. 🙂 They look pretty as lace increases and as substitutes for M1 increases on little girls’ raglan shoulders and elsewhere. I’ve even seen glove gussets made with yarnover increases.
Bonus Tip: Create a Missed Yarnover
Did you know that by picking up the running stitch and putting it on your needle, you’ve recreated a yarnover? So, if you miss a yarnover in the previous row, simply pick up the running stitch with its right leg in front to remake it, then work into it as the pattern calls for.
This post is part of my 31 Days to Your Nicest Knitting series. Every day, I’ll post a new tip or trick to make your knitting nicer. You can follow along easily by subscribing. If you have any knitting problems you’d like me to fix, let me know and I’ll try to answer your question as part of the series. You can find all the posts in the series here.