May 27, 2024
Learn about a variety of methods for increasing in knitting, including basic techniques like yarn over and make one, advanced techniques like lifted increases and purlwise increases, and project-specific techniques like increasing for hats and socks. Troubleshooting advice is provided, along with alternative options like short rows and grafting.

I. Introduction

If you’re an avid knitter, you probably know that increasing is a crucial part of the craft. However, for beginners, increasing can seem daunting and even intimidating. This article is designed to demystify the process of increasing when knitting, and cover a wide range of techniques and tips to make it easier for you to achieve your desired shape and size.

II. The Basics of Increasing in Knitting

Before we dive into more complex techniques, let’s go over the basics of increasing in knitting. Essentially, increasing involves adding stitches to your knitting. This could be to shape a garment, to add width, or to create decorative patterns in lace or colorwork.

There are several common methods of increasing that you’ll want to become familiar with:

Knitting front and back (KFB)

This is one of the easiest and most widely used methods of increasing. In this technique, you knit the stitch normally, then instead of moving to the next stitch, you insert the right needle back into the same stitch from the back to create a new stitch. This creates two stitches out of one.

Yarn overs (YO)

Yarn overs are another common way to increase. In this technique, you simply wrap the yarn around the right needle from the back to the front before knitting the next stitch. This creates a new stitch and a small hole in the fabric, which is often used in lace knitting for decorative effect.

Make one (M1)

A make one increase is done by creating a new stitch without using an existing stitch. There are several variations of this technique, but one of the most common is to lift the strand between the two stitches onto the left-hand needle, then knit into the back of this lifted strand.

Here’s how to perform each of these basic techniques:

Illustrations of KFB, YO and M1

III. Advanced Techniques for Increasing

Once you’ve mastered these basic techniques, there are several more advanced methods of increasing that you can experiment with:

Lifted increases

Lifted increases are similar to make one increases, but instead of lifting the strand between the stitches, you insert the right-hand needle into the stitch below the next stitch, then knit into the back of it.

Knit into the stitch below (K2TOG)

With this technique, you insert the right-hand needle into the stitch below the next stitch, then knit these two stitches together. This creates a new stitch and a small decorative bump in the fabric.

Purlwise increases

Purlwise increases are similar to knitwise increases, but instead of inserting the needle from the front, you insert it from the back. This creates a twist in the new stitch.

Here are step-by-step instructions for each of these advanced techniques:

Illustrations of lifted, K2TOG and purlwise increases

IV. Increasing in Lace Knitting

When knitting lace patterns, increasing can be a bit trickier than in other types of knitting. You need to be careful to keep your stitches even and your yarn overs tidy. Here are some tips and techniques for increasing in lace knitting:

Yarn over increases

As mentioned above, yarn overs are commonly used in lace patterns. To make yarn over increases, simply perform a yarn over as usual.

Make one increases

In lace, make one increases are often done as a lifted increase. You lift the strand between the stitches onto the left-hand needle, then knit into the back of it.

Double yarn over increases

A double yarn over is created by wrapping the yarn around the needle twice instead of once. This creates two new stitches and a larger hole in the fabric. Double yarn overs are often used in lace to create decorative holes.

Here are step-by-step instructions for each of these lace-increasing techniques:

Illustrations of yarn over, make one and double yarn over increases in lace knitting

V. Increasing in Colorwork

When knitting with multiple colors, increasing can be a bit more challenging because you’ll need to keep your floats under control and ensure the tension is consistent. Here are some tips and techniques for increasing in colorwork:

Catching floats

When you’re carrying the unused color across the back of your work, you’ll need to make sure to “catch” it with the working yarn every few stitches. This helps to prevent long floats that could get caught on things or cause the fabric to pucker.

Knit with two strands instead of one

For some colorwork patterns, it can be helpful to hold one strand of the main color and one strand of the contrasting color together. This can make the colors blend more evenly and prevent tension issues.

Using duplicate stitch to fix mistakes

If you make a mistake in your colorwork, it can be hard to correct without ripping out your work. However, you can use duplicate stitch to patch the mistake. This involves threading a yarn needle with matching yarn, then stitching over the mistake to create the correct color and pattern.

Here are step-by-step instructions for each of these colorwork-increasing techniques:

Illustrations of catching floats, knitting with two strands and using duplicate stitch in colorwork

VI. Alternatives to Increasing

Sometimes, increasing may not be the best option for achieving your desired shape – or you may simply want to mix things up. Here are some alternative techniques to increase:

Short rows

Short rows are a way to add shaping to a piece without increasing or decreasing. Essentially, instead of working all the way across a row, you stop partway and turn your work around. This creates a short row that bulges out from the rest of the fabric, giving you a curved shape without changing stitch count.


Grafting (also known as Kitchener stitch) is a way of joining two pieces of knitting seamlessly. This can be useful if you want to shape a garment without adding more stitches – for example, in the toe of a sock.

Changing needle size

You can also use needle size to control your shaping. For example, using a larger needle for a few rows can create a flare in a piece, while using a smaller needle can create a tighter section.

Here are step-by-step instructions for each of these alternative techniques:

Illustrations of short rows, grafting and changing needle size

VII. Increasing for Specific Projects

Finally, it’s worth noting that different projects will often require different increasing methods. Here are some tips and techniques for increasing effectively and evenly for specific types of projects:


When increasing for a hat, it’s important to ensure that your increases are evenly spaced around the crown. To achieve this, you’ll need to do some simple math to calculate how many stitches to increase and where to place them.


Increasing for socks can be tricky because you need to shape the toe without making it too pointy or too square. One good technique is to use the “star toe” method, which involves creating a star shape using your increases.

Here are step-by-step instructions for each of these project-specific techniques:

Illustrations of increasing for hats and socks

VIII. Troubleshooting Advice for Increasing

As with any knitting technique, there are some common mistakes and pitfalls that you may encounter when increasing:

Dropped stitches

If you accidentally let a stitch slip off your needle, it can be frustrating to try to pick it back up. However, with a little patience and practice, you can rescue dropped stitches and get your piece back on track.

Twisted stitches

When you’re increasing, it can be easy to accidentally twist your stitches. This creates a twisted, rather than smooth, increase. However, you can easily correct this mistake by carefully untwisting the stitch and knitting into it correctly.

Uneven increases

If you don’t space your increases correctly, you can end up with a lumpy or uneven shape. To avoid this, make sure to plan your increases in advance and double-check your stitch count before proceeding to the next section.

Here are step-by-step instructions for each of these correction techniques:

Illustrations of fixing dropped stitches, twisted stitches and uneven increases

IX. Conclusion

Now that you’ve learned about a variety of methods for increasing in knitting, it’s time to put your skills to the test. Experiment with different techniques and see how they can help you achieve your desired shape and size. Remember, increasing is just one of many tools in your knitting arsenal, so don’t be afraid to mix and match different techniques and explore new ideas.

If you’re looking for more knitting resources, there are many great books, websites, and online communities dedicated to the craft.

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