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Increasing in Pattern
Many knitting patterns that involve shaping, such as sweater sleeves that increase from the wrist to the underarm, will include this or a similar phrase: Increase at the beginning and end of every fourth row, working the new stitches into pattern. This is easy enough to understand if you're working stockinette stitch -- simply increase stitches as instructed and continue knitting all right-side rows and purling all wrong-side rows.
While it's easy to understand this in theory, it may not be obvious how to do this for complicated stitch patterns. If you're going to sew your seam with mattress stitch, you need to keep one edge stitch in stockinette stitch throughout and make your increases after the beginning edge stitch and before the ending edge stitch. Let's look at a couple of examples.
Increasing in 2x2 Rib Stitch
|Photo 1: 2 x 2 rib increased from 14 to 26 stitches.|
Here's a 2x2 rib that begins with two knit stitches on each end. The first increased stitch should be worked in stockinette stitch so that you'll still have two knits before the purls when the seam is sewn. Now you'll work the next three rows keeping the first and last three stitches as knits on the right side.
The next increased stitch will be made just inside the edge stitches, and this one should be worked as a purl. You now have one edge stitch, and then one purl followed by two knits. Continue increases in sequence: one more purl, two knits, two purls, etc., until you've increased all necessary stitches (see Photo 1).
Let's say you're working an allover 3x3 left-crossing cable with two purl stitches between. If you wait until you've increased a full six stitches so that you can work an additional cable on each end of the piece, you'll end up with rather large blocks of stockinette stitch below the new cables (see Photo 2).
|Photo 2: In this swatch, we increased six stitches before turning a new cable.||Photo 3: Here we began turning the cable on four increased stitches.|
This may not bother you, and that's fine. However, you can start incorporating the newly increased stitches into the pattern when you have only four. On the cable-turning row, work the beginning and ending cables by crossing one stitch over three stitches (see Photo 3). Be sure you leave an edge stitch for seaming.
If you're working a pattern with a repeat of 12 or more stitches, you'll need to study the pattern in order to decide where you can begin bringing new stitches into the pattern. Here's an example of a 14-stitch repeat that is increased one stitch at the beginning and end of every sixth row (see Chart 1).
|The pattern repeat is 14 stitches and 6 rows.
||Photo 4: In this swatch, stitches were brought into the pattern on Row 35.|
|Photo 5: In this swatch, stitches were brought into the pattern on Row 23.|
If you were to wait until you had all 14 stitches to begin a new repeat, you'd have a lot of plain stockinette stitches; so, you could increase until you have half a repeat and work these stitches in pattern (see Photo 4).
However, in this case you would be able to begin incorporating stitches into pattern on Row 23, once you have increased four stitches on each side. This is charted here. As the chart shows, it's possible to begin a partial pattern repeat once four stitches have been increased on each side.
As you can see, by bringing stitches into pattern as soon as possible, you have better continuity of design (see Photo 5).