This quick tutorial is about one of the most popular ways to increase stitches – knitting into the same stitch twice. Because each stitch has two legs – front and back, we can easily make two stitches out of one by working into each leg of that stitch.
There are two ways to make this increase. We can first work into the front leg, and then into the back leg of a stitch. Or, we can do the opposite and knit into the back leg of a stitch before we knit into its front leg. In both cases, we add one more stitch to the work without making a hole in the fabric.
Because we twist the original stitch, one of the legs of that stitch forms a bar underneath the added stitch. That’s why this increase is often called a “bar increase”.
The first increase is well-known as kf&b or KFB (which means Knit Front and Back). It looks like an equally spaced set of bars next to a line of knit stitches.
The second way to make this increase has a more decorative look. The bars are not as visible and the line next to those bars looks a lot like a wheat sheaf or a braid.
Unfortunately, this way of making a bar increase is not so popular. In fact, I couldn’t find any information about this technique in any knitting books I own, and there seems to be no mentioning of this way in online resources. I’m sure many knitters thought of making an increase that is opposite to KFB but probably I just couldn’t find any details about their discovery.
Since I don’t know any other names for this increase, it seems to be logical to call it KBF (Knit Back and Front).
Let’s see how we can make both versions of the bar increase step by step. If you are a visual learner, you can watch all steps explained below in this video tutorial.
KNIT FRONT AND BACK (KFB, kf&b)
Work to a spot where you plan to make an increase. Then insert the tip of the right needle from left to right into the first stitch on the left needle.
Wrap the tip of the needle with the yarn and pull the yarn through the stitch to make a new stitch, the same way as we do when we knit. Don’t slip the original stitch off the left needle yet.
Now insert the tip of the right needle from right to left into the same stitch.
Wrap the needle with the yarn and pull the wrap through creating one more stitch, the same way as we do when we knit a stitch through the back loop. Then slip the stitch off the left needle.
That’s how we knit into the front and the back of the same stitch. Because we twist the original stitch during this little manoeuvre, the front leg of the stitch forms a visible bar at the bottom of the increase.
Now let’s see how we can twist a stitch in the other direction and make that bar less visible.
KNIT BACK AND FRONT (KBF, kb&f)
When you get to a spot where you plan to make an increase, insert the tip of the right needle from right to left into the first stitch on the left needle.
Wrap the tip of the needle with the yarn and pull the yarn through the stitch to make a new stitch, just as we do when we knit a stitch through the back loop. Keep the original stitch on the left needle, don’t slip it off yet.
Then insert the tip of the right needle from left to right into the same stitch.
Wrap the needle with the yarn and pull the wrap through creating another stitch, same way as we do when we knit a stitch the usual way, through the front loop. Now we can slip the stitch off the left needle.
As you see, this increase not just conceals the bar, but also forms a lovely braid of twisted stitches.
Both these methods will work well in cases when you need to increase stitches in every round of a seamless project. I used KFB to form the sleeves of the Everyday Tee and I love that the fabric was not puckered or otherwise distorted by such steep shaping.
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