Learn how to increase in knitting! Now that you have the basics of how to knit and purl stitches, you may want to stop knitting squares and rectangles, and start knitting garments! To do this, you will need to know how to shape each of the pieces of your garment to give a good fit. Sure, you can make a sweater out of four rectangles, but if you want to make something a bit more stylish, you need to learn to shape your knitting.
How to Increase in Knitting Tutorial
The first step to shaping is to learn how to increase. There are a number of types of increase, each giving a different look and effect, and some are easier to execute than others. When increasing, you are making your knitted fabric wider. Let’s have a look at these different methods in more detail, and see which one you like the best!
When increasing, your increased stitches can have a left or right lean, so if you are increasing on both sides of a piece, as is usual, you need to mirror your increases to make it look symmetrical.
All my examples are worked in stockinette stitch. It is usual to work increases on the knit side of the fabric, and then just purl on the other side without any increases.
Read all about how to decrease knitting.
Increase Knitting Abbreviations
Method 1 - How to Increase in Knitting with Yarn Over
This is the simplest method of increasing and is particularly good for beginner knitters, but it does leave a small hole or eyelet in the knitted fabric. These holes can have lace patterns or decorative effects, but if you want a smooth, invisible increase, it will be best to try one of the other methods. This is the one increase method that doesn’t have a slant, so it can be used on both edges of the piece and is commonly used in lace knitting.
It is worked by wrapping your yarn over (yo) the right needle, between two stitches, from front to back. Keep that loop around the needle and continue knitting into the next stitch. When knitting the next row (purl) just treat that wrapped loop as a stitch.
This is how a piece will look with this method of increasing. See how you wrap the yarn over the right-hand needle, then just knit the next stitch normally.
Method 2 - How to Increase in Kitting with the Loop Cast On
This type of increase leaves less space between the stitches, so does not leave as much of a ‘hole’. It is also good if you are a beginner knitter. You will in fact be casting on just as you cast on if you use the loop method of casting on. The cast on stitch needs to be inside a border so as not to create ‘steps’ on the edge of the fabric.
Row 1 (Right Side):
- K2, work a right loop cast on.
- K to last 2 sts of row, then work a left-slanting loop cast on.
- K2. Can you see that the loop is twisted the other way around?
Method 3 - Bar Increase (Knit Into Front & Back of Stitch)
With this method, you will work into the same stitch twice, thus creating an extra stitch. You will be knitting into the front of the stitch, then into the back leg of the same stitch. This forms a small bar at the base of the increased stitch, hence the name.
To keep your increases perfectly symmetrical you will need to work the increase at the beginning of the row after 2 border stitches, and the increase at the end of the row 2 stitches from the end. This is because the little bar always falls to the left of the increase.
Row 1 (Right Side):
- Knit into the front of the next stitch, leave the original stitch on the left-hand needle, then into the back loop of the same stitch.
Method 4 - How to Increase in Knitting with a Lifted Increase
This creates a new stitch by lifting up an old stitch from the previous row. For symmetry, you will need to use a right lifted increase at the beginning of the row, and a left lifted increase at the end of a row.
Right lifted increase - Knit into the back of the stitch in the purl bump in the stitch directly below on the left needle. Just where I have inserted the arrow, you must place the tip of the right needle. Knit this loop as an extra stitch.
Left lifted increase - Insert the needle into the back of the stitch, directly below the stitch just about to be knitted. Pick up this loop and knit it as the next stitch.
Method 5 - Make One Increase Knitting (M1 Increase)
This type of increase is very similar to the last method, but here you are working into the running thread between the two stitches instead of lifting a stitch from the previous row. You will need to make 1 to the right (M1R) at the beginning of the row, and make 1 to the left (M1L)at the end of the row to get your symmetrical slant.
To M1R (Right-leaning increase) - With your left needle, lift the strand between the sts from back to front, then knit that lifted loop through the front of the stitch.
To M1L (left-leaning increase) - With your left needle, lift the strand between the stitches from front to back, then knit the lifted loop through the back of the stitch. These subtle little twists make all the difference to the direction of your stitches.
- Row 1, RS: K2, M1R, k to last 2 sts, M1L, k2.
- Row 2, WS: K2, p to last 2 sts, k2.
- Repeat these 2 rows.
Popular opinion says that this method may give you the least visible increases, but a lot depends on the type of yarn you are using, and how loosely or tightly you knit! There are times when you may prefer an invisible increase and times when you want a decorative one. I personally like the lifted increase the best, and find it the most invisible!
How To Make An Increasing Triangular Shawl
Now that you are an expert at increasing, how about creating a triangular shawl using all that knowledge? This is a really easy way to get yourself or a new baby a lovely garment! Your basic shape remains the same all the way through, and you have no seams to sew up afterward!
This is just a basic ‘recipe’ using stockinette stitch. When you are completely confident with increasing, you can adapt it to use fancier stitch patterns, such as lace or cable stitches.
The simplest way of all is to just start with one stitch. Then create your triangle by increasing on each end of every second row, that is, every knit row. I would suggest a narrow garter stitch border at each side of the triangle, to prevent curling. Picture a large version of my swatches shown above!
If you want something a little fancier, start with 3 stitches. Mark the center stitch.
- Work 1 row k, 1 row p.
- On each k row, increase 1 at the beginning of the row, knit to the center, increase 1 on either side of your center stitch, k to the end of the row, and increase 1 again.
- Once again, give yourself a garter stitch border before and after your increases, to prevent curling. The larger your shawl, the wider your border needs to be!
This gives a very pretty shawl with a centerline of increases. This may be a good time to use that decorative ‘yarn over’ increase!
The only disadvantage of this shawl is that your rows get longer and longer as you go along, and it will seem that your progress has slowed down considerably, which can be a bit discouraging! Just keep this in mind before you even start it, and be prepared for it, it will all be worthwhile in the end!
How to Increase in Knitting - In Conclusion
Whenever you are knitting a gauge swatch, throw in a little increasing practice, try out each method to see which one you prefer to work, and which one looks best to you. You may have to find a compromise between the two! Each different yarn will show the increases slightly differently, so you need to try them out with whichever yarn you plan to use for that project. Patterns will usually just say something like: ‘Increase 1 stitch on either side’ or something similar, so it is up to you to decide which of the five methods you will choose to use. Have fun with shaping your knitting!