Let’s get technical. I don’t want to re-invent the wheel; there is lots of help already out there. I want to pull it together so that you can find the best help through one page. Of course I’ll add in my two cents’ worth, though.
But where to start? One of the first techniques I found baffling was M1, or “make one.” This simple little pattern instruction hides a plethora of solutions. I hope this “menu” helps you find the best version for you & your current project.
M1 & M1P. So your abbreviations list simply reads “make one”. Oh. Now what? If you’re lucky, it might say to “knit into the bar before the next stitch”. This is your traditional, received-wisdom way to M1 – and its close relative M1P, which is make one purlwise, to make a purl stitch. For repeating the move a few times, so you get a chance to see what’s happening, these videos are helpful:
M1 and M1P English
M1 knitting Continental
(Too fiddly for your fingers? Skip to M1A lower down this post)
M1L & M1R. You’ve mastered the basic M1 and you want to step up a notch? M1L is a left-leaning increase. M1R is, yes, a right-leaning increase. If you use pairs of left- and right- leaning increases, you can get a nice finish to your work. It’s a bit like being able to make left- and right-leaning decreases; yes, of course you could use K2tog everywhere you need to decrease, but it doesn’t look as nice as pairing K2tog with SSK.
But what if your increase needs to be done on the purlside? Yes, you can M1P with either a right or left leaning result. This is important if the right side (RS) of the fabric is the knit side, so the increase you make on the purl side will really show up on the RS. But if the RS of your fabric is in fact the purl side, use either method because the lean is all about what is happening with the stitch “legs” on the knit side. (The linked video also shows how to fix a missing lace yo but on a purl row – it’s under the guise of an increase on the purl side that make a deliberate hole in the row below – yes, I have novice mittens that know all about that – see my earlier post!)
So that covers the most common M1s you’ll see explained. However, like most things in knitting, there are as many methods as there are knitters.
Is lifting the bar too fiddly or your work too tight? Amy of Knitting Help describes M1A (M1 away), which is basically a little thumb cast-on thrown into your work. It has a little friend, M1T (M1 towards), which matches it.
Stop here if your brain is melting with the options already listed. Now we are heading off piste and off the youtube videos and down the slippery slope to M1G: make one geek.
My lovely friend Lillasyster uses an intriguing increase, which matches brilliantly with K2tog or SSK (if you don’t know what those abbreviations mean, save your sanity and stop reading). Instead of working the bar (or running thread) between the stitches, knit into the head of the stitch below your next stitch on the left needle. This means the visual effect is of two stitches coming out of the head of one stitch, which looks a lot more like a K2tog than any of the others, don’t you think? This increase is TECHknitter’s nearly invisible increase.
Yes, this is going to be right leaning. Need to make it left leaning too? Use the stitch you’ve just worked instead, which is the one sitting on your right hand needle. You need to go down two sts though – skip the st you just knitted, knit into the head of the st on the row below that!
On a purl-side row, the increase works exactly the same. Simply purl into the head of the stitch below. If you’re going over the top with correctness, or concerned about the knit side appearance, you can make them lean as with the knit-stitch version. Otherwise, either a left or right leaning M1 will do because you won’t be able to see the difference on a purl row.
Lillasyster used her increase when she made the Ironbridge Cowl sample – there are a few hidden here and there in the setup; not that I can see them as she’s done such a neat job!
Now, unfortunately (or fortunately) I confess I wasn’t paying enough attention when Lillasyster demonstrated her increase to me a few months ago. Therefore, I’ve accidentally invented another version. If the knitting is really tight – perhaps you’re in the depths of a cable panel and everything is pulled every which way – then try M1-Inspiration.
Instead of just knitting into the head of the stitch and putting the new st on your right hand needle, I added an extra step. Knit into the head of the stitch, but put the new stitch on your left hand needle and work it again. This puts a bit more knitting into the gap.
It worked really well on my Leave These to Me mitts where the gauge is 28sts/10cm (7st/1”) so there isn’t much yarn for yanking stitches around to work. A test knitter commented that with a regular M1P, a small hole was opening up either side of the central knit stitch on the first round of thumb gusset increases, and she wondered how I had avoided the problem. This alternative method works because it puts an extra st into the row below too, rather than just straining the stitches.
This brings me to my advice about knitting techniques in general: feel free to ignore all the advice (yes, including this blog post) and just make it up yourself. It’s your project.
Time to M1C: make one cuppa.