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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!

Save it for later. Here’s how to tuck this article into your MDK account with one click.

About The Author

Kate Atherley is a teacher, designer, author and technical editor. She’s also the publisher of Digits & Threads, a magazine all about Canadian fibre and textile arts.


  • I’ve become a fan of the nearly invisible Slipped Raised Increase, which can be used instead of M1s. June Hemmons Hiatt describes it on pg. 210 of the latest edition of “Principles of Knitting.” And Phrancko has a helpful video tutorial here (the demo begins at 11:12):

    • I’ve been doing the Raised Increase for a long time, as it avoids the tiny hole of M1s, but from now on, I’ll be doing the Slip Raised Increase (or Slipped Lifted, as Phranko calls it). Thanks for the tip about his video-the lonk didn’t work, but by searching his name on youtube, I found the video, which was excellent!

    • Thanks! Extra thanks for giving time on video. I’ve been meaning to relearn that for eons. But somehow in the midst of knitting getting out a book or going online seems lime too much interruption.

      My only quibble is that he assumes you always want them in the same spot. I just did increases in a sweater that had them lean the opposite way he says the always go.

    • I’m always looking for the most invisible increases and decreases, so thanks for sharing this. I’m so glad I finally switched to GSR instead of w&t for short rows, they are almost invisible.

      Always something new to learn!

    • Awesome technique! Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks for the link!! I’m going to try that one out on my next sweater.

      • I really like that! Nice to see all the comparison swatches, too.

  • After 23 years of knitting,, I just learned something new…again! M1 = backward loop! Hurray!

    • I had never heard of that one either. Learn something new every day.

  • Very nice visuals. I remember M1R by saying make 1 Rear.

  • It’s a little strange, but I remember M1R by thinking of Ruth Bader Ginsburg knitting—Ruth knits through the Back and it’s Good (M1R-BG!)

    • That’s a great mnemonic device – and it makes me smile at my mental picture of RBG knitting.

  • You mention that the backwards loop method doesn’t have a particular lean, but isn’t that method ultimately exactly the same as an M1L or R? It’s just done in two steps—creating the loop on one row and then knitting into it on the next. I’ve done it in a pattern before—it’s nice because it’s less tight to knit into because you already created the loop, but the resulting stitch seems like it would ultimately look like an M1L or R depending on which way you twisted your loop on the row below. Or am I missing something?

    • Andrea, you’re correct… but I’ve observed that for most knitters, it’s less obvious than doing it the traditional M1R/M1L way. Obviously, every knitter’s fabric is different! I’ve found, in my teaching, that less experienced knitters appreciate having an option that doesn’t require fussing or remembering.

      • Got it, that’s helpful! I did like doing it that way because it was less tight, which probably contributes to the overall look.

  • Thank you for Right Back
    I have been looking for or trying to think of a “memory tool” for several years

  • I wanted to save this article, but even though I was logged in, the red flag to save never showed up. Any ideas to try? Also, what do you mean by “website” when we try to leave a comment?

    • Do you mean the “Website” field beneath “Email” and “Name” that shows up when you’re leaving a comment? That’s there in case you have your own website/blog you want to be included in the attribution of your comment (it would show up as a link attached to your name).

      Back in the hoary old blogging days, before social media took over, people often used a field like this when commenting. It was part of how bloggers found each other (it was also what attracted spammers to comment sections, sadly…). Nowadays, it seems rarely used, though I guess you could put in a link to your social media page of choice if you wanted. Or leave it blank! It’s optional and in no way required for leaving a comment :-).

    • I had trouble with this too but I googled it for an answer. They need the entire address. It is: https://www.modern daily

  • Great to have this info all in one place, thank you! Saved. And that big, squishy, cactus-green yarn for the demo brought me great joy this morning!

  • Another way to remember M1Rand M1L: I’ll be right back, I left the front door open.

  • It seems my brain never works like everyone else’s. I remember it by where the needle goes into the yarn: MIR = work into yarn closest yo right hand – which is in the front. MIL closer to left hand because goes through the back. Although maybe this only makes sense to a Continental knitter??

  • I remember m1r and m1l because if you look at the way the stitches look while they’re on both needles, you can see which way it will fall. Then knit through the tightest side.

  • I always associate M1L with front to back because left and front both contain the letter F.

  • I love all the ways that people remember which is M1R and which is M1L. Mine is the R(ight) and the B(back) are both letters with curves. They go together. The L(eft) and the F(ront) are both all straight lines so they go together too.

  • I’ve starting using the Norwegian increase that Carlis and Arne use. I find that it’s nearly invisible, though you can find it if you look for it!

  • I learned somewhere that the direction of the lean is the same as the way the knitting needle tip points when making it. So, for a M1R, the ndl points to the right, and for the M1L, it points to the left. This works for K2tog and SSK decreases, too. That seems to be easier for me to remember than all the other good methods suggested here.

  • If I may offer an addition…I am a STRONGLY Continental knitter, in that I do all my stitch manipulations with my right needle, moving the left needle together with the stitches on it to get it into position for my next stitch. It feels like a Simone Biles gymnastics maneuver to use the left needle to lift the bar between stitches. But once I saw illustrations like yours, that is, illustrations that stayed put in front of me, it was straightforward to work out how to lift the bar with my right needle and move it to the left needle in the proper orientation, and I can do the MiL as a single, fluid motion (M1R, is, of course, still fiddly.)

  • The thought that reminds me which way to start my M1R vs M1L is that it’s okay for your close friends (=R) to come in your back door and go out the front door, but the bad guys in the movies are always coming into the restaurant and escaping through the kitchen in the back! Yes, for every stitch my mind has the same pictures – of a lovely wood-floored house with beautiful trees and back porch the friends enter through, and of an industrial, shiny restaurant kitchen the bad guys are running through! The mind is a mysterious thing. . .

  • Interesting enough I’m knitting a pattern that call’s for a KBF increase. It does it KBF so a lower thread can be picked up and twisted for an inc-3. I had a hole the first time and had to go online and watch her help video and realized she was doing a KBF. After decades of knitting I thought I knew a KFB increase. Ha!

    • Thank you for the great increase refresher! Just a note to say that the KFB definitely has a good use, for example in the project I’m working on currently, The Bento Bag by Darling J’adore. I don’t usually choose this increase, but when increasing on every other round, eight times each, it is so perfect to look for those purl bumps as a signal for a plain OR increase round to come next. Isn’t it amazing how different techniques really fit in with various projects!

  • This was game-changer for me: once you’ve picked up the strand between the 2 needles, look at the front leg of the picked-up strand. If it leans to the left, it will be a M1L, if it leans to the right, it will be a M1R. The pictures above show it clearly.

    I don’t really worry about which way I’m picking it up, because it’s easy to adjust once it’s on the needle.

  • I also use that trick about remembering which is which. I’ll be right back, I left the front door open.

  • I thought up a thing to help me remember the difference beteween M1L and M1R, it’s “I’ll be right back” meaning for the right leaning one you come from the back. Also means for left leaning you must come from the front.

  • Of all those memory aids mentioned Left and Front both having an “f” in it is the easiest for me to remember. How different we all are. But even easier is to just use the backwards loop cast on, unless with a particular yarn/pattern it just doesn’t look right. Hope that never happens.:).

  • I remember the M1L and M1R by matching the letter count. So LEFT goes from to BACK (4 letters each) and RIGHT goes back to FRONT (5 letters each).

  • I LEFT through the FRONT door, and I’ll be RIGHT BACK.

  • I just finished a child’s cardigan that used the backward loop for all of the increases. When I read the pattern, I thought, “What the heck!!” But I’m very pleased with the results. I do need to see it on the child for my final opinion, but that won’t be until Christmas.

  • I finally get it!

  • I remember the M1L the easy way: the twisted loop before looks like a “stretched” L from its bottom edge up to the top of the loop, the twisted end hiding behind and the M1R is the opposite…

  • How did you know I needed this article today!? I’ve ripped out a top out a kid’s sweater neck multiple times recently because of problems with M1 R & L increases. My granddaughter will get her sweater after all. Thank you!!!

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