M1L and M1R without confusion

Why is it that the most popular increase causes many of us so much confusion? I don’t know about you, but it took me YEARS to find a way to remember how to make M1R and M1L without mixing them up.

So when Carol sent me an email asking to make a tutorial about this way to increase stitches, I related to this issue right away.

If you ever followed a knitting pattern, chances are you’ve seen the “M1” abbreviation. Why do designers like this type of increase so much? Well, because it is relatively easy to do and because it creates a new stitch in a subtle almost invisible manner, without any unwanted holes.

The confusion comes when you have to “make 1 left” (M1L) and “make 1 right” (M1R).

The difference between these variations of the same increase is that M1L makes the little bar under the new stitch slant to the left, and the new stitches are added at the left side of the work. You can see it in the photo below (I marked the left-slanting bars with the navy blue colour).

M1R, on the other hand, makes that little bar slant to the right and the new stitches are formed at the right side of the work, as shown in this photo.


The first thing you need to remember is that both increases can only be made between stitches. You can’t use this type of increase to add stitches at the very beginning or very end of a row. 

So to make this increase, work to the place where you want to add a stitch. Then follow these two steps:

1. With the left needle pick a strand between the first stitch from the tip of the left needle and the first stitch from the tip of the right needle. Here’s a photo with this strand marked in navy blue.

2. Knit this strand as a twisted stitch, so that you don’t have a hole under the new stitch.

These two steps are ALWAYS OPPOSITE to each other in the “front-back” direction of the way you work them.

Here’s what it means:

If you pick the strand between stitches from the BACK of the work, knit the stitch through the FRONT loop. That gives you a “make 1 right” increase.

If you pick the strand between stitches from the FRONT of the work, knit it through the BACK loop, and you will have a “make 1 left” increase.

The trick is to remember which is which. Asa from AsaTricosa offers an interesting prompt – the words Right and Rear start with the same letter, so you will remember to pick up the strand between stitches from the Rear (back) when you make a Right slanting increase (M1R).

I found a slightly different way to tell these two increases apart. The phrase “I’ll be right back” makes it easy for me to remember the same thing that Asa noted – to pick up the strand from the back when making a right slanting increase. Of course, this phrase has nothing to do with knitting stitches, but because we use it quite often, it is easy to remember, and that works for me.

Now that we understand the logic behind the two variations of the M1 increase and how to tell them apart, let’s summarise:


1. With the left needle pick the strand between stitches from the BACK (use “Right=Rear” or “I’ll be right back” as a reminder).

2. Knit the picked up strand through the FRONT loop.


1. With the left needle pick up the strand between stitches from the FRONT.

2. Knit this strand through the BACK loop.

I made a video tutorial to show you exactly what you need to do to make these increases. Click here to watch it. 

If the pattern tells you to “make one” (M1) without specifying whether it should be a left slanting or a right slanting increase, it means you should make a left slanting increase – M1L.

There’s one more thing that could be a bit of a nuisance when you make this type of increase – it can be quite hard to insert the right needle into the picked up strand when you perform step #2. 

Watch this video to see how to go around (often quite literally :-)) this problem.

In majority cases, you will be doing the “make one” increase on the knit side of your work, but sometimes the pattern will instruct you to make a stitch on the purl side. The abbreviations will be M1PL (make 1 purl left) and M1PR (make 1 purl right).

In that case, the logic behind this increase remains the same, and all tips I explained above are true, but you will purl the new stitch instead of knitting it.

Now you are ready for any kind of “make one” increases. Enjoy 🙂

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Maryna Shevchenko - 10 Rows a Day

Make 1 left and make 1 right increases without confusion | 10 rows a day
Make 1 left (M1L) and make 1 right (M1R) knitting increases | 10 rows a day
Make 1 left (M1L) and make 1 right (M1R) knitting increases | 10 rows a day
Make 1 left (M1L) and make 1 right (M1R) knitting increases | 10 rows a day