Sunday, May 18, 2008

More Increases

But Lynda, you pipe up, What if I have to do increases on both sides of my piece? How do I do that and make them look nice? I'm so glad you asked that question, because now we get into the realm of paired increases. Paired increases are done so that they are mirror images of each other, on either side of your fabric.

The first one that comes to mind - the most commonly used one - and one that bridges the gap between paired increases and the K1f&b and the YO, is the M1, or Make 1. A M1 can be done three ways. The first way to make a M1 is not directional, and I call it the 'Afterthought Yarn-Over'. Mostly because that is how I use it, when I am working a lace pattern, realize that I have left out a yo on a previous row, and need to suddenly slap that yo into place. With all versions of M1, you start by using your right needle to pick up the bar of yarn that runs in between the stitches on your right needle, and the next stitch on your left needle, like so..

Knit that one wide open, just as you would do for a yo. If you compare it to the yo's that were worked on the swatch earlier, you can see that it looks just the same.

But what if you don't want a hole where you worked your increase? Well, there are the paired M1s. These are worked twisted so that they don't leave a hole...

The first one is made by putting your left needle under that same strand of yarn, from back to front, so that the left leg of the loop is on the front of your left needle.

Knit that front leg as usual, so that the new stitch is twisted. This one is worked at the beginning of a knit row, on the right edge.

To work its twin, on the left edge, you will insert your left needle under that same strand of yarn, this time from front to back. See how it leaves the right leg on the front of the needle?

Knit this one through the back of the loop, in order to twist the stitch and close up the hole.

M1 on the left edge, after working three more rows. You can just see the twisted stitch about 3 rows below the needle, and four stitches in from the edge.

M1 on the right edge, after working three more rows. See the twisted stitch about 3 rows down, and four stitches in from the edge? The M1 can also be called a Raised increase, NOT to be confused with a Lifted increase, which I am about to show you.

To work a Lifted increase, we are going to work into the purl bump from previous rows. This increase can be used on either a knit or a purl row, but I will show it to you from the purl side first, because I think this will make it more obvious what you are doing. Here I am working one on the right edge, by inserting the tip of my left needle into the second purl bump down, on the last stitch worked on the right needle. Lift this purl bump up, and purl into it.

On the left edge, you will poke the tip of your right needle into the first purl bump down of the next stitch to be worked on your left needle. Purl into that loop.

So, to do the same thing from the knit side, on the right edge you are going to go behind the knitting and poke the tip of your left needle into the second purl bump down of the stitch you have just worked on your right needle. See how the left leg of the stitch is to the front of your left needle? Knit into the back loop (the right leg) so that the stitch does not become twisted.

On the left edge, you will take your right needle, go behind your knitting, and pick up the first purl bump below the next stitch on your left needle. Knit into it.

If you look at the after photos, you can barely see where the Lifted increase comes from. Of all the increases we have looked at so far, this is the least obvious of them all, the one that leaves the smallest footprint. That makes the Lifted increase my favorite go-to, all-round increase for all occasions.

I have more increases for you next time...

Thursday, May 15, 2008


If you have been playing Sock Wars this week, you may have been one of the many who were confused by the increase directions. So I thought that it would be a great idea if we talked about increases and their variations and particular uses.

Many beginning knitters are frustrated by the fact that a lot of pattern writers take for granted that the knitter has a certain knowledge base. And indeed, the average pattern would have to turn into a book in order to accommodate all the skills that any knitter would have to have under their belt in order to complete the project. As a new knitter - or even a more experienced one - this is where a good knitting reference is worth its weight in gold. Vogue Knitting produces an excellent big, hardcover knitting reference, and Interweave Knits has a small pocket guide that is handy to keep with you in your knitting bag. Another of my favorites is published by Reader's Digest and is called the Knitter's Handbook, by Montse Stanley. There is also June Hiatt's Principals of Knitting, which, if you can find one, is nearly literally worth it's weight in gold bars. Any one of these will serve the average knitter very well.

So, let's play a little with some basic increases. Get out some yarn and needles, and cast on 20 sts. Work in stockinette stitch for about an inch.

To begin with, when a pattern tells you to increase a stitch at the beginning of a row, or at the end of a row, you almost never, ever increase right at the beginning or end, unless you are specifically told in the pattern to do so. I always work one or two stitches in the established pattern before increasing at the beginning of a row, and do the increase at the end of the row one or two stitches before the end. Here in the demo sample, I am working 3 sts at the beginning of the row before working the increase. This is done to make a cleaner edge and a nicer finished piece, and also makes seaming easier and neater.

Probably the most basic increase of all is the K1f&b. This is also called a bar increase. K1f&b (knit 1 front and back) tells you how it is done, and is usually the way you will see this written in a pattern. Bar increase tells you what the result looks like. Remember that the terms are interchangeable.

To work this increase, you first knit into the next stitch on your left needle as usual, but do not remove the original stitch from the left needle in the normal manner - leave it on the left needle. Now, take your right needle that is still holding onto the new stitch, and swoop the right needle around behind the point of the left needle. Knit the stitch on the left needle - that you have already knit into from the front - through the back leg of the stitch. The result is two stitches knitted from one stitch. Now slide the original stitch off of the left needle as you would normally do. Viola! A k1f&b increase has been worked. The result will be a little bar where the stitch was worked. This can be very obvious in stockinette stitch, but a lot less obvious in ribbing.

The second basic increase is a yarn-over, or yo. This is used quite a bit in lace for two reasons - One- to increase in order to compensate for a decrease worked elsewhere. Two- to create a hole. Work to where you want to place the increase, bring the yarn to the front of your work between the needles, and then up and over the top of the right needle. Knit the next stitch as usual. You will hear of knit yo's and purl yo's, but the basic idea is the same, just bring the yarn forward, over the top of the right needle, and then back to the proper position for the next stitch to be worked.

Notice that as you look at the yo on the needles, before it is worked into on the next row, the yo looks like a diagonal stitch on the needle, with a hole below it.

You then work the yarn-over on the next row as a knit or as a purl, depending on the stitch pattern. Note that the lower hole in the picture is a single yo worked as a purl on the WS row, and that the large hole just above it is a double yo (loop the yarn over the needle one extra time) with the first part of the yo worked as a purl, the second part of the yo worked as a knit.

Some lace patterns may ask you to do a yo at the beginning of a row. This is to create a stretchy side edge on the lace. In a similar way, a lace cast-off includes a yo in between each stitch cast off for the same reason. You would K2, pass 1st st over, *yo, pass st over the yo, K1, pass yo over the stitch* to the end of your CO row. Also, a short-row sock heel may have you do a yo at the beginning of a row after a turn. The yo is later worked along with the next st to be worked in order to avoid holes.

You can also work a yo so that it doesn't leave a hole. On the WS, work the yo through the back of the loop.

This leaves a twisted stitch on the RS, but no holes.

Next time we'll talk about paired increases...

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Sock Wars III

Yesterday when I was at Kiwi, aside from playing Knit Dr. for the morning (which I love), I was also arming myself for Sock Wars 3.

For those of you not familiar with the Sock Wars concept - There are, so far, over 1,000 Sock Warriors signed up to do battle. Today is the last day to sign up, so hurry over there if you enjoy knitting socks and are ready for a bit of silly fun.

On May 9th, each Sock Warrior will be emailed a dossier with their target's nom de guerre, shoe size, and address, along with the top secret Sock Wars 3 pattern. You must knit the socks as quickly as possible and mail them out to your target - as soon as they receive the socks you have knitted for them they are assassinated, and your defeated target must mail the socks that they were working on - along with the information about their target - back to you, the assassin. You would then finish the socks your now-deceased target was working on, and send them on to their intended target. Keep in mind, however, that somewhere out there, someone is knitting socks with your name on them with the intention if assassinating you! Once those socks arrive in your mail, you, in turn, are assassinated and must send the socks you were working on to your assassin. And it goes on like that, with socks flying all over the globe, until one knitter is left standing.

Admit it! Doesn't that sound like a heck of a lot of fun? This year, Sock Wars 3 is being sponsored by Southwest Trading Company, and the sock yarn of choice is Tofutsies, their machine wash and dryable self-patterning sock yarn blend of 50% Superwash Wool, 25% SOYSILK brand fiber, 22.5% Cotton, 2.5% Chitin. Being the rebel that I am, I have chosen Online's Supersocke 100 in a bright, screaming lime green blend that was calling my name. Supersocke is a blend of 75% superwash wool and 25% polyamid. I should be finished with the pair of socks I am currently working on by Monday, and then plan to work up my gauge swatch and sit back and get ready to dive into war next Saturday.

Now, mind you, I don't have any illusions that I will be that last knitter standing. But I plan to have a lot of fun, and what the heck, you get a pair of socks out of the deal, so what's to lose? I'm already planning to hit the Post Office on Monday morning and picking up a few of their smallest Priority Mail boxes so that I can send out my socks right from my computer using the USPS website. Just go to the website, click on the click-and-ship link, put in the shipping info, pay online and leave the package for your mail-person to pick up. We assassins have to have our methods, you know!

If you are a member of Ravelry - and if you aren't why aren't you? - you can follow the Sock Wars forum here.

Keep in mind, too that the new Kiwi Knitting Newsletter is out, so if you are not on our snail- or e-mail list, be sure to grab one next time you are in the shop to find out what's new at Kiwi, and see all the new classes for summer!