One more to the right, one more to the left

October 07 2011 – thisisknit

Back in August, we posted a tutorial on directional decreases. In the comments, Laura asked if we could do one on directional increases. So here it is. We hope it's useful. There's actually a couple of ways of making increases directional. The ones we're going to concentrate on are called lifted increases, because they involve lifting up a strand of yarn from the previous row and working into it. They're straightforward to do and they give a really neat, practically invisible result. Here's a picture of the lifting - the strand connecting two stitches on the row below the current one is lifted up with the tip of the left hand needle. It's possible to work into that strand exactly as it presents itself. This will give you an extra stitch all right, but it will also give you a hole. If you want a hole in your knitting at that point, then knit the loop as it is (this is a great fix if you've forgotten to make a yarn over on the previous lace row). In the picture below, you can clearly see the hole developing. But most of the time, you don't want holes in your knitting when you're increasing. Indeed, this issue was what Laura most wanted to avoid. So for the rest of this post, we'll concentrate on how to make directional lifted increases without any holes at all. The secret is to pay attention to how you lift the strand, and then to twist the strand as you work it. To make a right-leaning increase, pick up the strand from the row below by moving the tip of the left hand needle under it from front to back, just as in the first picture, which you can see again here: But instead of working the front leg, put the tip of your right hand needle through the stitch from right to left, so you're ready to work its back leg. Wrap the yarn as usual... ...and complete the stitch. At this point, it becomes clear why this is a right-learning increase, because the new stitch is coming out to the right of the loop it's made out of: And here's the new stitch, neat as you please and with no hole: The corresponding left-leaning increase starts out very similarly, with the strand from the row below lifted over the tip of the left hand needle. But this time, lift it by moving the tip of your left hand needle from back to front. This gives you a strand lying over the left hand needle that looks like this: Again, you make the new stitch by twisting the strand. Since it's oriented the other way, though, you need to work its front leg. This is fiddlier than the right-leaning version, but it just needs a little wiggling: Wrap the yarn as usual... ...and complete the new stitch. And now it's clear why this one's left-leaning, because it emerges from the left side of the twisted loop. When it's completed, the left-leaning increase looks like this - again, no nasty gaps: Directional increases are useful because they can be paired - imagine the thumb gusset of a glove with all the increases right-leaning on one side and left-leaning on the other. These little touches make your knitting look neat and professional. And to show what the two look like when they're paired, here's the same swatch knitted on a little further, with matching increases three stitches apart four rows below the needle: They're practically invisible, there's no holes, and they sprout off in different directions. Laura, can we say thank you for suggesting this as a topic - we hope you find it useful. And if there's any other techniques we should include, please tell us in the comments. We love the feedback!


  • Janine: September 16, 2020
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    Could you please ‘post’ a tutorial with tips on how to knit socks so they stay up?! I am new to sock knitting (I’m only on my third pair) and whilst the socks look lovely they don’t stay up very well! I have only used Wendy Happy sock yarn so far and would love to use Malabrigo sock yarn but don’t want to use such a good yarn for a pair of socks that won’t stay up!!

    Thank you

  • Helen: September 16, 2020
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    Thank you so much for this useful tip. I knew how to make the right leaning increase but the left leaning one had me cracked up. thanks again.

  • Nadine: September 16, 2020
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    Thanks for that. I’ve so far avoided patterns that contained different directional increases (no problem on the decreases). Now, I can put them back on my project list :-)

  • Laura: September 16, 2020
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    Thanks a million guys! That is really helpful, that is the one that always gives me problems. I think I knew how to do it once upon a time but had forgotten the trick with which way to knit it and was getting fed up of those darn holes. I was having to always knit into two stitches twice which looks awful sometimes.
    The new shop is looking great by the way, I spent a lovely few hours hanging out there (while slightly hungover) on Sunday while Siobhan was teaching :)

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