Skill Builder: Increases
Hello Skill Set Beginning Knitters! You’re doing great!
Are you ready to add another couple of tools to your toolkit?
Let’s talk about increases.
There’s a whole group of increases, gathered under the name “Make One,” often abbreviated as M1. They’re very different from “Knit into the Front and Back” or KFB, the increase introduced in Skill Set. KFB takes one stitch and has you work into it twice, to make it into two stitches. (There’s also a purl version, PFB–which is worked in a similar manner–but it’s not as common because it’s a little fiddly.)
When I see “M1” in a pattern, I like to think of the “M” as short for magic, as these increases seem to conjure a stitch out of nothing!
The advantage to these M1 increases is that they are a little tidier than KFB, and a bit more flexible.
There’s actually a few different ways to do them. Rather than thinking of M1 as a single method, think of it as a family. They’re definitely related, but each is slightly different. And like any family, there will probably be one or two members you spend more time with than others …
Explore them all and choose one or two favorites.
An All-Purpose M1
My favorite M1 is the backwards loop. Yes! Just like the cast on I demonstrated in my previous Skill Builder column!
And just like the cast on, you can twist it either way.
It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s pretty low-profile, and it’s neutral–it doesn’t have a particular lean, and it’s really helpful when you have to increase in a knit-purl pattern stitch, because you can make it a knit or a purl as you need.
The (small) downside is that the newly-created can be a little tight to knit (or purl) into, the first time you encounter it on the following row, but it’s a small and temporary inconvenience.
Using the twisted version makes this new stitch a little bit more substantial–some find it easier to work into the first time. The trade off is that it’s a bit less subtle in how it looks, a smidge more visible, Try both and see which you prefer!
Right-leaning and Left-leaning M1 Increases
M1R and M1L are very common; you may have already seen references to them in patterns. These do the same thing, add a new stitch. They’re also considered to be “directional” increases, in that they have a slight lean to them.
In both cases, you lift up the strand in the gap—that is, the strand that runs between the first stitch on the left needle, and the last stitch on the right needle, as shown below.
And then you knit into it. The difference between M1R and M1L comes from the direction you pick up the strand, and the way you knit into it.
M1R goes as follows: use the tip of the left needle to lift the strand in the gap (the strand that runs between the first stitch on the left needle, and the last stitch on the right needle) from Back to Front.
Then knit that strand through the Front loop, to twist it. It should be a little bit tight to knit. If it helps, use the tip of your left index finger to shuffle it down the needle a little and hold it in place.
M1L goes like this: Use the tip of the left needle to lift the strand in the gap (the strand that runs between the first stitch on the left needle, and the last stitch on the right needle) from Front to Back.
Then knit that strand through the Back loop, to twist it. I find this one a little easier to do than M1R, but it can still be a little bit tight.
An alternative view: if you tip the needles towards you a bit, you can make sure you’re knitting into the correct loop
This is what it looks like when it’s done:
Tips For Make 1 Increases:
- To remember which is which, just say to yourself: “I have to go look it up in my favorite knitting book! I’ll be right back!” because M1R, make one right, starts with picking up the loop from the back.
- Once you’ve figured out which direction to pick up the strand, the second step is easy–just remember you’re going to knit into it so it’s twisted.
- If you find you’re making a hole, chances are you’re knitting into the picked-up strand the wrong way—that you’re not twisting it.
- And once you’ve remembered which way M1R goes, M1L is easy to remember because it’s the opposite, if slightly less memorable: left front!
- You can also create new purl stitches this way, by purling rather than knitting into the loops of M1R and M1L … these are known as M1PR and M1PL.
And my #1 All Time Favorite Knitting Tip: If you can’t remember how to work M1R and M1L, or you mix them up, or you find them tricky to work: just use the backwards loop version! It’s entirely interchangeable, is easy to do, and works in any situation!