Knit beautiful details with mirrored increases

Mirrored increases, or paired increases, as they are also called are knitting increases that look similar but lean in different directions. 

Most increases in knitting lean either to the left or to the right. When used with that in mind increases can make fine details that elevate the look of your knits.

It’s not only a matter of picking one increase that leans to the left and one leaning to the left. If they don’t match it can still look a bit messy. And even when you pair two similar-looking ones the outcome can still be very different. 

Think of the raglan shaping on a pullover or cardigan for example. The increases along the raglan seam can be neat and make it look like the fabric is seamed with a narrow seam. But they can also be bold and visible with holes along the seam, like this cool sweater pattern I found at The Snugglery

In this post, we will take a look at five pairs of mirrored increases. Which ones will you go with for your next project?!

Make one right (m1r) and make one left (m1l)

Make one right and make one left may be the most common pair amongst the mirrored increases. And that’s not strange at all, because they look nice and are fairly easy to do. Remembering which one is which is another story though. I have a simple tip for confirming what direction an increase will lean. Stay put to the end of this post if you want to know it. (Or scroll down if you’re too curious!)

If you have been knitting for a while, I guess you’re already familiar with m1r and m1l. But if you’re fairly new to knitting you’re in for a treat! When you have m1r and m1l in your base of knowledge you can make so many fun and beautiful details, from pretty raglan increases to intricate stitch patterns. 

m1r and m1l are called lifted increases because they are made by lifting the yarn between two stitches of the last row before. 

The direction of the lifted increase is determined by whether the bar is lifted from the front or the back of the work. 

How to make one right, m1r

This increase is made by lifting the bar between two of the stitches from the last row.

The bar is lifted and placed on the left needle so that the needle goes through the loop created by the bar from the back and forward, against you. The loop sits on the needle looking like this:  ⬈

The loop is then knitted into the front leg. 

How to make one left, m1l

m1l is done almost like the m1r, but for it to lean in the opposite direction the bar also needs to be lifted in the opposite direction. For a left-leaning increase, you need to place the loop on the left needle so that the needle goes from the front and back, pointing away from you. 

The loop should look like this when it sits on the needle:  ⬉

The loop is then knitted through the back leg. 

If you need a tutorial for how to knit m1r and m1l I have one here!

Mirrored increases knit with yarn overs

Using yarn overs (YO) for increases makes decorative holes if you just knit or purl over them at the next row. That’s very useful to make small buttonholes, lace knitting, and if you want to make a visible detail. But not so much for making mirrored increases as yarn over increases that are left open don’t lean in any direction. 

To make a leaning increase from a yarn over you need to twist the yarn over as you work over it on the next row. So this increase is knit over two rows. 

Twisted yarn overs

The result of a twisted yarn over is visibly the same as making a m1r or m1l. But the twisted yarn over has a more relaxed tension due to the yarn you set aside for it on the first row aka the yarn over.  

When you make a lot of m1r and/or m1l increases close to each other the tension in the fabric gets tight as new stitches are made from yarn in the row before. 

A BYO is always knitted in the front leg to twist it regardless if you’re knitting flat or in the round. Just as a YO is always knitted in the back leg to twist it. That’s because both yarnovers and backward yarnovers are a small spiral which means it has the same direction no matter what angle you see it from. 

Increase with a twisted yarn over to the right

On the first row: Make a backward yarn over, BYO. A backward yarn over is done by wrapping the yarn around the needle the yarn the opposite way you would when knitting a stitch. (But just wrap, don’t make a stitch)

On the next row, knit the backward yarn over in the front leg. This twists the stitch and closes the hole. 

Increase with a twisted yarn over to the left

On the first row: make a yarn over, this is made by wrapping the yarn like for making a knit stitch. (but without making an actual stitch.)

On the next row, knit the yarn over in the back leg. This makes the stitch twisted and closes the hole. 

Paired loop increases

Loop increases are a way of increasing with a loop that’s placed on the needle. 

The result of these increases looks very much like the m1r/m1l and twisted yarnovers. The biggest advantage of these increases is that they don’t pull as much on the stitches around them. This is because they are made from a loop of working yarn that’s twisted when it’s placed on the needle. As the loop increases pull less on the fabric they won’t make the stitches surrounding them uneven, as the two alternatives above can do. 

If you compare the column of stitches between the increases in the pictures you will notice that the column is more even looking in the photo of loop increases. 

Right-leaning loop increase

This increase is made by creating a loop shaped like an “e” when wrapping the needle with yarn held around your thumb. 

  • Place the yarn around your left thumb. The yarn should come from the knitting, in front of your thumb, around it, and then into your palm. 
  • Let the tip of your right needle slip in under the yarn coming out behind your thumb and up into the loop.
  • Slip the yarn of your thumb and pull it to tighten the loop on the needle. 

Left-leaning loop increase

  • Place the yarn around your left thumb. The yarn should go from your knitting, behind your thumb, and around to the front. Hold the strand in place inside your palm. 
  • Let your right needle tip slip in under the yarn in front of the thumb and come up between the two strands, into the loop created around your thumb. 
  • Let the loop slip of the thumb and pull the yarn to tighten it. 

This exact technique can also be used to cast on stitches in the middle or at the end of a row. It can even be used for casting on for a new project!

The image shows how mirrored increases, in this sample is kfb and sskk

Knit into the same stitch twice 

kfb, knit into the front and then the back leg of a stitch, is a common way to increase in knitting. It’s super easy to do and it seems logical to knit twice in the same stitch to make one stitch into two stitches. 

kfb is a left-leaning stitch, which also has a (lesser-known) right-leaning buddy. 

How to increase to the right by knitting a stitch twice

It can feel fiddly to increase to the right by knitting twice into one stitch, but it gets easier after a few repeats. 

  • Slip 1 stitch knitwise
  • Put the stitch back on the left needle (now it’s twisted)
  • Knit it in the front leg
  • Put the left needle tip into the same front leg that was just knitted and knit it again. 
Mirrored increases is pairs of right and a left leaning decreases that looks alike.  in this image you can see examples of pairs of invisible increases made into the same stitch and at the side edges of a piece of knitting.

Mirrored (almost) invisible increases

Invisible increases are knitted in the stitches of the row before. This can seem a bit intimidating but its quite easy do to!

These kinds of increases are called invisible because they are way less visible than other increases. They are easy to see when done in a row, mostly because all the new stitches change the direction of the stitch columns. The images above show invisible increases done on every other row with different placings. 

The left image shows how it looks when these increases are done in the same stitch. It’s not invisible when done this way, but the effect is beautiful. This would look lovely as the spine on a triangular shawl!

In the right image, you can see how it looks when I have done invisible increases two stitches from the side edges. That gives a completely different look!

When done with a bit of spacing around these incerases actually are almost invisible. Take a look in this post if you don’t believe me 🙂

Right-leaning invisible increase

  • Find the stitch below the next stitch.
  • Lift the right leg of that stitch on the left needle
  • Knit the stitch you lifted.
  • Knit the next stitch.

Left-leaning invisible increase

  • Knit the stitch you are intending to make an increase under
  • Lift the left leg of the stitch two rows down. (It’s two rows now instead of one as you have already knit the stitch on this row)
  • Knit the stitch you lifted in the back leg.

A little hack! Determine how increases are going to lean

At the beginning of this post, I mentioned that I have a simple but really good way of knowing in which direction an increase will lean.

This is super easy, but works on most increases (and decreases!). 

Look at the tip of your right needle tip when you insert it in the stitches (or loop or yarn overs) you’re going to increase or decrease in.

The direction of the increase/decrease will almost always be the same as the direction of the needle tip!

You can read more about this here: Easy trick for remembering m1r and m1l