All my knitting life I've been doing paired (or mirrored) increases as M1R and M1L. I've been aware of Cat Bordhi's lifted increases and even tried them a couple of times but I thought that was it: there's only two ways you can do paired increases in knitting. When I started really looking into this topic I realized that for pretty much every increase you can think of there's a mirror-image counterpart.
Here are six ways to knit mirrored increases.
1. Yarnover increases
This increase type takes two rows to execute.
LEFT: To work a left-leaning yarnover increase, do a regular yarnover (YO), scooping behind the working yarn with your right-hand needle. The working yarn slants to the left and looks like a backslash character (\). On the following row, work into the back of the stitch closing the hole and twisting the stitch to the left.
RIGHT: Work a right-leaning yarnover increase by doing the opposite. Work a backwards yarnover (BYO), going from front to back with your right-hand needle. Now the working yarn slants to the right and looks like a forward slash (/). On the next row work into the front of the yarnover, making in lean to the right.
If the pattern you're using is written with another type of increase in mind, remember to work the yarnovers on the row before. If you're working flat, that means working yarnovers on the wrong side (like in my video above). Pay attention to the order, too. Because you're working from the wrong side, the YO for the left-leaning increase is on the right and BYO for the right-leaning increase on the left. If you're working in the round you obviously won't have this problem.
2. Loop increases
RIGHT: If you've ever done a backwards loop cast-on, this is exactly the same except you're only casting on one new stitch. This is also known as an e-loop increase because the loop looks like a lowercase 'e' character. To work a right-leaning loop increase, make a loop with the working yarn in the counter-clockwise direction. The yarn end attached to your work is on the back and the end going to the ball is on top.
LEFT: Work a left-leaning loop increase by taking the working yarn in your hand and twisting it clockwise to create a forwards loop. The yarn end attached to your work is now on top and the end going to the ball is behind.
One thing to note is that loop increases tend to create bigger holes and be quite visible compared to the stitches around them. The next pair of increases take care of this issue.
3. Strand increases
You might be thinking now that strand increases are some new-fangled invention you've never heard of. But I bet you've been doing them all along — just like I have. As the name suggests, strand increases are done by knitting into the strand between two stitches. Strand increases are what's usually referred to as make one right (M1R) and make one left (M1L).
RIGHT: To work a right-leaning strand increase or M1R, pick up the strand from the back with your left needle tip, going towards the right, and knit into the front loop. You might have to give the loop a little tug to make it easier to work into.
LEFT: The left-leaning strand increase or M1L is just the opposite. Pick up the strand from the back with the right needle tip going towards the left, place the strand on left-hand needle, and knit into the back loop.
There are a couple phrases floating around to help you remember which of these increases is which, such as "I'll be right back" for the M1R increase. I find them quite confusing, to be frank. All you have to do is to pick up the strand with the opposite needle and the increase will automatically lean in the correct direction.
4. Bar increases
These increases are made by working twice into the same stitch, once in the front loop and once in the back. Working into the back loop of the stitch makes it visible on the right side of the work as a little horizontal bar, hence the name 'bar increase'.
RIGHT: A right-leaning bar increase is a little tricky to work. Slip the first stitch knitwise and then return it to the left-hand needle in its new orientation. Knit into the front loop and drop the stitch from the left needle. Grab the same front loop with the left needle tip, place it on the needle, and knit it. The 'bar' is on the right and the stitch you knitted last on the left.
LEFT: Here's another increase I bet you've been doing all along! A left-leaning bar increase is just a good old KFB, knit front and back. To work this increase, knit a stitch but don't let it drop off the left needle. Instead, knit into the back loop of the same stitch and then drop it off. The stitch you knitted first is on the right and the 'bar' on the left.
By nature, bar increases are very visible in stockinette which is why I tend to avoid them. They blend in quite well in garter stitch, though, because it's all purl bumps anyway.
5. Slip increases
If you don't like the look of the bar increase, try it's better-looking cousin.
RIGHT: First, knit a stitch like you would normally but return it immediately on the left-hand needle. With your right needle tip, lift the front leg of the stitch below, then slip the stitch you just worked. This increase tends to come undone quite easily so make sure you're catching both stitches on the next row.
LEFT: To work a left-leaning slip increase you start the same way as in a KFB. Knit a stitch but don't drop it off the left needle. Instead of knitting into the back of the stitch you just slip it purlwise to the left needle. This increase is also known as knit front, slip back (KFSB).
6. Lifted increases
These increase were made famous by Cat Bordhi in her book New Pathways for Sock Knitters. They are anatomically the same as slip increases except done by lifting stitches from the row below and knitting them as if they were on the current row.
RIGHT: To work a right-leaning lifted increase (RLI or LRinc), pick up the right side of the stitch below the next one, place it on the left needle, and knit the lifted stitch.
LEFT: A left-leaning lifted increase (LLI or LLinc) is done by lifting the left side of the stitch two rows below the stitch you just knit and then knitting into this lifted stitch.
Here's a side-by-side comparison of all the six increase types. Which one's your favorite? Sound off in the comments below.
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