Picking the Right Increase

To The Sea Men's Sweater

After taking a break to knit the Anker’s Sweater in preparation for the Anker’s Knit Along, I am back working on my husband’s sweater. I’ve really enjoyed knitting this sweater, which has a neat-looking cable up the front and a broken rib pattern on the back, front, and sleeves. This sweater is knitted bottom up to the point where you bind off for the underarms. Once there, the body of the sweater is put aside, and the sleeves are knitted. After the sleeves are knitted, you join them with the body of the sweater and knit the yoke.

When knitting sweaters like this, I am so glad that I use interchangeable needles. I can just unscrew my needles, screw on the caps, and start on the sleeves. When I am ready to join the parts together, it is easier to screw on needles and knit across the cables than to pick up stitches from waste yarn.

Leave Stitches on Cable Instead of Scrap Yarn

The directions for the sleeves are straightforward. After casting on stitches for the cuff, you knit for 14cm, then start increasing. The increases are every 2.5 cm (7 rows). The directions are to increase one stitch on each side of the seed stitch marker, knitting the increases into the pattern as you go along. These directions leave the type of increase up to the knitter.

Basically, there are three types of increases (demonstration videos below):

  • Lifted increases are knitted by lifting the stitch one row below
  • Increases that use the ladder or strand of yarn between two stitches (for example, make 1 right (M1R) or make 1 left-(M1L)
  • Increases that are created with the working yarn alone (for example, Kfb or yarn over increases). A yarnover increase is a decorative stitch that use the holes that a yarnover increase to create a decorative element in the design (for example, yokes and raglan sleeve increases).
Lifted Increase in Pattern

With few exceptions, most increases will be right- or left-leaning. This works well for the increases for my husband's sweater as the directions call for increases on either side of the centerline of the seed stitch. Without much thought, I started with the Kfb (knit front and back). I quickly backed out of that stitch because the increase created a small bump and hole. I wanted a nearly invisible increase, which was a lifted increase (left). Once blocked, the lifted increases will be virtually invisible.

Watch this video on Lifted Increases by Heather Storta 

Comparing Increases, by VeryPink Knits, is a nice video that compares M1, yarnover, and Kfb increases.

This is certainly not a complete list of increases and how or where to use each one. This discussion is about selecting an increase when directions read increase one without any suggestions on which specific increase to use. This has happened to me several times! Just be prepared to think about how you want your fabric to look and pick accordingly.