Creative Knitting Newsletter
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Perfectly Paired Increases & Decreases
The most common way to shape your knitting is by working increases and decreases, and there are many different types of each. But not all increases are created equally, and the same applies to decreases. Some knitting patterns suggest that a specific increase or decrease be used, but many, perhaps most, do not. Phrases like "increase at the beginning and end of every other row" or "decrease at the armhole edge on every other right-side row" are common. With so many types to choose from, what's a knitter to do?
Choosing a Type of Increase or Decrease
If you're instructed to increase a certain number of stitches evenly spaced in a row, the increase you choose could depend on the pattern of the knitting. For example, if you're working a plain row between a ribbing or other textured border and the plain body of a sweater, it probably doesn't matter too much because the increase will get lost in the transition from textured to plain fabric. If you're working a plain stockinette stitch piece, you probably want to choose the most invisible increase available. But, when shaping armholes, necklines and other pieces that have increases or decreases on both sides, it does make a difference which type you use.
Choosing the Slant
For pattern instructions like those described above where shaping is added on both sides of a garment, consider using mirrored increase and decrease pairs, which are two stitches that look exactly the same except that one of the pair slants to the right and the other slants to the left. In most cases, you'll want to choose an increase or decrease that slants in the same direction as the knitting.
For example, if you're increasing at the beginning and end of rows in a sleeve, choose a right-leaning increase at the beginning of the row and a left-leaning increase at the end. If you're decreasing on each side of the toe of a sock, choose a left-leaning decrease at the beginning of the instep stitches and a right-leaning decrease at the end. This is not a hard-and-fast rule; you may want to make a design statement by slanting your shaping stitches away from the direction of the shaping. Whichever way you go, it's a good idea to work your increases or decreases one or two stitches in from the edge; this method maintains an even edge for picking up or seaming. Here are a few paired increases and decreases to choose from.
Make 1 (M1) Increases M1 increases are worked in the bar or running thread between the stitches on the left and right needles. They can be worked as knit or purl stitches and made to lean to the right or to the left.
|To Make 1 Right, the left needle is through the bar from back to front. Knit through the front loop.|
With the right needle, pick up the bar and place it on the left needle, so the needle goes through the loop from back to front. Knit the stitch through the front.
Make 1 Left (M1L)
With the right needle, pick up the bar and place it on the left needle, so the needle goes through from front to back. Knit the stitch through the back.
|To Make 1 Left, the left needle is through the bar from front to back. Knit through the back loop.||Make 1 Rright at right, Make 1 Left at left: The increases are worked two stitches in from the edges.|
Lifted Stitch Increases
These increases are worked into stitches from previous rows and are the most invisible of all.
|For a right-leaning lifted increase, place the picked-up loop (currently on right needle) onto the left needle and knit it.|
Insert the right needle from back to front into the stitch one row below the next stitch and lift it onto the left needle. Insert the needle into the front of the stitch and knit it.
Insert the left needle from back to front into the top of the stitch two rows below the last stitch on the right needle. Knit the lifted stitch from the left needle.
|For a left-leaning lifted increase, knit the loop picked up from two rows below.||Lifted right at right, lifted left at left: The increases are worked two stitches in from the edges.|
Paired Decreases: Ssk & K2tog
Slip, slip, knit (ssk): Slip the first stitch knitwise, slip the next stitch knitwise and then insert the left needle into the front of the two stitches and knit them together through the back loops. It's important to slip the stitches knitwise -- stitches slipped purlwise create a stitch crossed at the base, which doesn't mirror the k2tog.
Knit two together (k2tog): The most common right-leaning single decrease, in fact, the only one seen in most knitting publications, is k2tog. Simply insert the right needle into two stitches on the left needle and knit them together.
Skp & Ksp
Slip 1, knit 1, pass the slipped stitch over (skp): Slip one stitch knitwise, knit one and pass the slipped stitch over the knit stitch. Be careful not to stretch the slipped stitch.
Knit, slip, pass the next stitch over (ksp): Knit the first stitch and slip it back to the left needle without twisting it; pass the second stitch over the first stitch and then slip the first stitch back to the right needle without twisting it.
|Skp at right, kps at left. The decreases are worked two stitches in from the edges.|