To get more stitches in knitting, an increase is needed. A common method of increasing stitches is known as make one, abbreviated as M1 or M1L, for make one left.
The most basic way to increase is knitting in the front and the back of a stitch. The make one is performed in between two stitches, with the bar between the stitches.
How Exactly It's Done
To make an M1L or make one left, take the left-hand needle and pick up the bar between the stitches from front to back, as shown in the picture.
Use the right needle to knit this bar through the back loop.
There's also a stitch known as the M1R or make one right, which involves lifting the bar from the back and knitting it through the front loop. This one is a little trickier, and patterns don't always specify which one of these stitches they want you to perform (the pattern will just say M1), which means you can use either, and M1L is much easier once you've tried it a couple of times.
The same stitches can also be worked on the purl side, just purl through the back loop for a make one left and through the front loop for a make one right. Purling in the front and back is not quite as intuitive as knitting in the front and back, though the technique is the same.
What to Keep in Mind
Due to different manufacturers of patterns, terms and methods may differ from what you may be familiar with. Keep the following in mind as you knit:
- Check the Pattern Instructions. You should know that a lifted increase is sometimes referred to as a make one or a bar increase, so how do you know which increase to use? That is why it's important to check the pattern's list of terms to make sure you're performing the exact increase that the designer intended. Also, if abbreviations are used in the pattern, an explanation should be given somewhere in the notes for the pattern as to what the abbreviation means.
- Increase Placement. Patterns will usually tell you where to make one—whether at the edge of the piece of knitting or a stitch or two in. Increases that are worked in or along the edge are sometimes hidden in seams, but it can be difficult to sew a seam that's uneven because of increases.
- Alternatively. Known as a fully fashioned increase, you can place increase stitches a couple of stitches in from the edge. These increases become a design element in the garment, so it's important to know what increase the designer intended when making increases this way.
- Don't Give Up. It can be a little tricky the first couple of times you do an M1, as it is a little tight, but once you get the hang of it, you'll be using make one everywhere you don't want your increases to be obvious.