“Inc 1 st each side, working inc sts into pat”, “inc and work into pat”, “cont in patt, inc 1 st each side”, “work the inc sts into pat”. If you’ve ever knit a sweater with fitted sleeves or a top-down sweater with raglan lines, you’ve probably seen one of those scary-looking abbreviations.
All of them mean the same thing – we need to add one stitch at each side of the work, and somehow figure out what to do with those new stitches so that they do not disrupt the stitch pattern.
The big question is “how to do it without getting confused and frustrated, and preferably without ruining our project?”
Unfortunately, no magic formula would work for all projects and all stitch patterns. But things get much more manageable when we split this big task into two simple steps: (1) making increases and (2) working the new stitches into the stitch pattern.
With this simplified approach, even beginner knitters will be able to increase stitches in pattern without any problem.
Let’s see how to do it:
Click here to watch every step in a video tutorial.
Depending on the project, the pattern may instruct you to increase stitches at the very edge of the piece (usually, a sleeve) or inside the work (raglan lines worked from the neckline). Follow the pattern instructions to increase stitches where they are supposed to appear.
As to the type of increase, it could be a “make one” increase, or a yarn over, or any other kind of increase the pattern designer decided to use. Again, follow the pattern.
If there are no specific instructions in the pattern and you need to increase stitches at the edges of the work, the easiest way to do it is to cast on a stitch at the end of the next two rows using the backwards loop method (watch how to do it):
At this point, it doesn’t matter whether the new stitch is a knit or a purl. We’ll decide how to work this stitch when we work the next row (or round if you work in the round).
WORKING STITCHES IN THE STITCH PATTERN
When you get to the new stitch in the next row/round, stop and look at the stitch that is to the left of the new stitch. Will you knit or purl it? Now think whether you would knit or purl its neighbour (the new stitch) according to the stitch pattern you follow.
For example, in my swatch, the new stitch should be worked in the “knit 1, purl 1” ribbing pattern. The stitch next to the new stitch is a knit. That means I need to purl the new stitch.
When you get to the new stitch at the end of the row, also work it according to your stitch pattern. In my example, the stitch before the new stitch is a knit. In the “knit 1, purl 1” pattern, that means I would purl the new stitch.
If you work in a more complicated pattern, it helps to separate the first, and the last pattern repeats with stitch markers. This way it will be easier to find where the new stitch belongs in the stitch pattern repeat.
In stitch patterns that involve cables and motifs, it is usually recommended to work new stitches in stockinette stitch until you increase enough stitches to form a pattern repeat.
In simpler stitch patterns like ribbing and seed stitch, it’s better to work each new stitch into the stitch pattern. This way your work will look consistent and more polished. Happy knitting!
If you enjoyed this tutorial,
here’s something else you might find helpful:
“Neat Side Edges” Book
Learn twelve ways to make side edges of a knitted project nice and tidy. Plus, ways to fix side edges, and a way to improve edges of finished projects.