Knit Stitches For Increases and Decreases

by dustytoes

Advancing our knitting progress means learning to follow patterns where increase and decrease stitches are used.

This collection of videos show some basic stitches needed that will create an increase and decrease. These stitches will be used a lot and they are easy to remember.

I have no one to show me how to knit so I must rely on video tutorials and information garnered from the internet. As you may imagine, there are a lot of very bad videos out there! Some are blurry, some are too quickly done, but mostly people talk too much. If you have searched for helpful knitting videos you will agree with me that there are relatively few good knitting videos!

When I am in the middle of a pattern and need to know how to do the next stitch in the pattern I don't have time to wade through all those lousy videos! So this page was created as a reference for myself as well.

When Are Increases and Decreases Used?

Truth be told, the thought of making increases and decreases made me nervous.  But mastering them is one way to expand our knowledge as knitters.

Now that I have followed patterns containing them, I see how valuable they can be.  These types of stitches are used to create a lace look, or add texture and interest to an otherwise simple project.

The increase and decrease is needed when knitting garments, like hats.  Decreases are made at the top of the hat to shape it.  Also think, mittens, triangular shawls, clothing, booties, ect., which all need to be shaped. 

When knitting lace, increases and decreases are used together to create that lacy look.

Some common increases:

Yarn Over (yo)

Make One (m1)

Knit front and back (kfb) 

Stitch markers can be placed before these stitches to remind us when to work them.  Usually they are slipped onto the needle.

In a pattern the letters PM mean "place marker".

Stitch Markers at Amazon

Placing stitch markers at intervals can help keep track of stitch count as well.
Owl Family Bronze Stitch Markers by C...HiyaHiya Yarn Ball Stitch MarkersLOKIPA Crochet Locking Stitch Markers...
Stitch markers to mark sets of stitches
Stitch markers to mark sets of stitches

How to Make Yarn Overs With Knit and Purl Stitches

Yarn overs are very simple ways to increase a stitch.  

Doing a yarn over before a knit stitch is simple, but the one done before a purl can be tricky.  

Watch the quick video tutorial below for the correct way to make these stitches.

Purl Soho Videos Are My Favorite Tutorials

They get right to the point of the tutorial without a lot of blabbing on about things I don't care about!

How to Do a "Make One" (M1)

Another way to increase a stitch.

Knit Front and Back is an Increase Stitch (kfb)

Book Suggestions For Beginner Knitters

Most knitting patterns books will include easier patterns with more difficult. This gives the beginner a chance to try new patterns as abilities progress.

Decrease Stitches - The Slip Slip Knit and Knit 2 Together

One simple way to make a decrease is to knit two stitches together.  Two stitches are knit, or purled, at the same time.  Two stitches become one, and will be treated as a single stitch on the next row of the pattern.  Hats require this around the top to create the point. 

The knit-two-together, abbreviated "k2tog" in a pattern, is sometimes combined with "yarn overs", abbreviated "yo".  

This will happen if the pattern designer doesn't want a decrease, but a pattern to emerge by manipulating stitches.  The "yo" is an increase of a stitch, and combined with a decrease, keeps the same number of stitches on the row.

A lace pattern will contain increases and decreases to create a lace look.  Pretty patterns are often made this way as well.

Knit two together (k2tog) and slip, slip knit (ask) stitches make left-slanting, and right-slanting (respectively) stitches which are important when shaping something like a sweater.

The video below explains these stitches and shows how they slant.

Comparing SSK and K2tog Common Decrease Stitches

She includes another decrease called pass slip stitch over. (PSSO)

Lace knitting uses various stitches to create a pretty pattern

Knitting lace
Knitting lace

Reading Patterns

I have only just begun to try my hand at more complicated patterns.  The image above is a shawl I am knitting and the pattern has really challenged me, but it is fun.  I've made mistakes and had to figure out how to correct them.  I've learned to use stitch markers to my advantage.

I have yet to master reading a chart, but it is something I will work on soon.  Many knitwear designers include written instructions as well as a chart, but check before you purchase if you can't deal with charts!

This shawl is part of a "mystery knit-along" at the Ravelry site.  Joining a knit-along (KAL) is a good way to knit with others and maybe learn some new things at the same time.

Join in my knitting journey by following my blog.

My blog began when I lived in New England. Now I write about my knitting journey and share patterns and tips.
After fiddling around with dishcloths, hats and scarves for a while, and getting basic stitches learned, I needed a bigger knitting project. I yearned to make a sweate...
Some info here on beginning the Rebel cardigan. This is a top down sweater with a very unique construction at the beginning, which sets up the remainder of the knitting.
How to fix some common knitting mistakes. Every knitter needs to know how to un-knit, and frog to get back to their mistakes to be corrected.
Updated: 07/28/2018, dustytoes
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Can you make increases and decreases with your eyes closed?

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dustytoes on 07/28/2018

@DerdriuMarriner I am having fun with the MKAL (mystery knit along), but it is not a mystery any longer as we (the group) is working on the last "clue" to end the shawl. I'm new to this type of thing, and I suppose groups could get together and do them, but the one I am working on is in a forum online. What I like most is that I am able to see how it should turn out while I knit (because others are always done with the "clue" before me). And there are many helpful people, including the designer, available to answer questions. Now I see that there are prizes to be won as well. It has been fun!

DerdriuMarriner on 07/28/2018

dustytoes, Thank you for the practical information and the product line. How are the mystery knit-alongs going? Do local groups form or is the contact solely online? Sounds as fun as a scavenger hunt!

dustytoes on 07/20/2018

You never know. I didn't have time for knitting, or the time to learn creative stitches, until recently. I like that you say "yet". The knitting bug may bite you one day.

AngelaJohnson on 07/20/2018

Knitting seems like such creative hobby, but I don't think it's for me - yet. Who knows? I admire the intricate designs knitters can make.

dustytoes on 07/06/2018

I caught the knitting bug a few months ago and then bought all kinds of yarn. So now I have to find ways to use it all! I did that a little backwards I think... LOL

Veronica on 07/06/2018

Gosh you are advancing very quickly ...well done you .

erhhh no I don't do knitting things with my eyes closed …. ha

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