Techniques for Increasing and Decreasing Knitting Stitches

Techniques for Increasing and Decreasing Knitting Stitches

Knitting is a popular craft that allows you to create beautiful and functional items using just a pair of knitting needles and some yarn. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced knitter, it’s important to have a solid understanding of the basic techniques, such as increasing and decreasing stitches.

Increasing stitches is a key skill in knitting, as it allows you to add width to your work and shape it in various ways. There are several methods for increasing stitches, including knitting into the front and back of a stitch, yarn overs, and making new stitches between existing ones. Each method creates a different effect and is used in different situations, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with them.

On the other hand, decreasing stitches is essential for shaping your knitting project and creating various effects, such as shaping sleeves, necklines, and armholes. There are several ways to decrease stitches, including knitting two stitches together, slipping stitches, and passing the slipped stitch over. These techniques create different effects and can be used in combination with increasing methods to achieve different shapes and patterns.

In this article, we will explore the various ways to increase and decrease stitches in knitting, as well as provide tips and techniques to help you achieve the desired results in your knitting projects. Whether you’re looking to add shaping to a garment, create lace patterns, or make decorative elements, increasing and decreasing stitches are essential skills that every knitter should master.

Importance of Knitting Techniques

Knitting is not just a hobby, it is a craft that requires skill, precision, and knowledge of various techniques. The right knitting techniques can make all the difference in the quality, appearance, and durability of your knitted projects. Here are some reasons why understanding and implementing proper knitting techniques is important:

  1. Achieving the desired fit: Knitting techniques such as increasing and decreasing stitches allow you to shape your knitting to achieve the desired fit. Whether you are working on a sweater, hat, or scarf, properly executed techniques can help you create a garment that fits well and flatters your body shape.

  2. Creating interesting textures: Knitting techniques like cables, lace, and colorwork can add depth and texture to your projects. These techniques can transform a simple knitted piece into a visually appealing work of art.

  3. Enhancing durability: Certain knitting techniques, such as reinforced edges and joins, can strengthen the fabric and prevent unraveling or fraying. These techniques are especially important when working with delicate or easily damaged yarns.

  4. Fixing mistakes: Knowing how to fix common knitting mistakes, like dropped stitches or twisted stitches, can save you time and frustration. Understanding techniques such as picking up dropped stitches and ripping back can help you rectify errors without having to start over from the beginning.

  5. Expanding your creativity: Learning new knitting techniques opens up a world of possibilities for your projects. With each new technique you master, you can experiment with different stitch patterns, textures, and designs, allowing you to take your knitting to the next level.

  6. Building a sense of accomplishment: Mastering knitting techniques takes time and practice. With each technique you learn, you build your skillset and gain confidence in your abilities. Completing a project using a range of techniques can be incredibly satisfying and rewarding.

Overall, understanding and implementing proper knitting techniques not only improves the quality of your knitted items but also enhances your knitting experience. So take the time to learn and practice various techniques, and watch as your knitting projects become more impressive and enjoyable.

Tips for Increasing Knitting

Increasing stitches in your knitting can help create shaping, add decorative details, or adjust the size of your project. Here are some tips to help you increase stitches:

  • Make a yarn over (YO): Bring the yarn to the front of the work, then wrap it over the right-hand needle, creating an extra stitch.
  • Knit front and back (KFB): Insert the right-hand needle into the next stitch as if to knit, but instead of just knitting it, knit into the front loop and then into the back loop. This creates a new stitch.
  • M1 (Make 1): Insert the left-hand needle into the horizontal strand between the two stitches on the right-hand needle from front to back, then knit into the back of this strand. This creates a new stitch.
  • Knit into the stitch below: Insert the right-hand needle into the stitch below the next stitch on the left-hand needle, then knit into it. This creates a new stitch.

When you increase stitches, it’s important to consider your project’s pattern and ensure that the increases are placed correctly. Keep track of your increases by using stitch markers or written notes.

Remember to practice these techniques on a swatch to ensure you understand how to execute them properly.

Ways to Decrease Knitting

Decreasing stitches in knitting is an important technique that helps to shape the fabric and create various design elements. Here are some common ways to decrease stitches in your knitting projects:

1. Knit Two Stitches Together (K2tog)

This is one of the most basic and commonly used decrease methods. To perform a k2tog decrease, simply insert the right-hand needle into the next two stitches on the left-hand needle as if to knit, then knit them together as one stitch.

2. Slip, Slip, Knit (SSK)

The SSK decrease is another widely used method that creates a symmetrical decrease. To work an SSK decrease, slip the next two stitches one at a time from the left to the right needle as if to knit, then insert the left-hand needle into the front loops of the slipped stitches and knit them together.

3. Slip, Knit, Pass Slipped Stitch Over (SKP)

This decrease method is often used in lace knitting and creates a decorative left-slanting decrease. To work an SKP decrease, slip the next stitch as if to knit, knit the next stitch, then pass the slipped stitch over the knit stitch and off the needle.

4. Central Double Decrease (CDD)

The CDD decrease is commonly used for shaping the center of a piece or when working lace patterns. To perform a CDD decrease, slip the next two stitches knitwise one at a time, then knit the next stitch. Pass the two slipped stitches over the knit stitch and off the needle.

5. Knit, Slip, Pass Stitch Over (KSP)

This decrease method creates a decorative right-slanting decrease. To work a KSP decrease, knit the next stitch, then slip it back to the left needle. Pass the second stitch on the left needle over the slipped stitch and off the needle.

These are just a few examples of the many ways you can decrease stitches in knitting. Depending on your project and desired outcome, you may need to try different decrease methods to achieve the desired effect. Practice and experimentation will help you become more comfortable with these techniques and improve your knitting skills.

Note: When working a decrease, it’s important to follow the pattern instructions carefully and consider the stitch pattern and gauge to maintain the correct shape and tension in your knitting.

Choosing the Right Knitting Needles

When it comes to knitting, choosing the right needles can make a big difference in the outcome of your project. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced knitter, finding the perfect needles can enhance your knitting experience and help you achieve the desired results. Here are some factors to consider when selecting knitting needles:

  1. Material: Knitting needles come in various materials such as wood, metal, and plastic. Each material has its advantages and drawbacks. Wood needles provide warmth and a natural grip, metal needles are durable and smooth, while plastic needles are lightweight and affordable. Consider your personal preferences and the type of yarn you’ll be working with when choosing the material.
  2. Size: Knitting needles are available in different sizes, which are measured in millimeters or US needle sizes. The size of the needles determines the size of the stitches. Thicker needles create larger stitches, while smaller needles create finer stitches. The recommended needle size for your project can usually be found on the yarn label or in the knitting pattern.
  3. Length: Knitting needles come in various lengths, including straight needles, circular needles, and double-pointed needles. Straight needles are commonly used for flat projects like scarves, while circular needles are versatile and can be used for flat and in-the-round projects. Double-pointed needles are used for small circumference projects like socks or sleeves. Choose the length that suits your project and knitting style.
  4. Gauge: The gauge refers to the number of stitches and rows per inch in a knitted fabric. Different needle sizes can affect the gauge of your knitting. If you want to achieve the correct gauge for your project, you may need to adjust your needle size accordingly. It’s important to make a gauge swatch before starting your project to ensure the desired measurements.

Remember, choosing the right knitting needles is a personal preference and may require some trial and error. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different needle types and sizes to find what works best for you. Happy knitting!

Adjusting Knitting Tension

Knitting tension refers to the tightness or looseness with which you knit your stitches. Having the right tension is important for achieving accurate gauge and the desired finished measurements of your knitting project. Here are some tips on adjusting knitting tension:

  1. Use the right needle size: The size of your knitting needles can affect your tension. If your stitches are too tight, try using a larger needle size. If your stitches are too loose, try using a smaller needle size. Experimenting with different needle sizes can help you find the right tension for your project.
  2. Practice consistent tension: Consistency in tension is key to achieving even stitches. Try to maintain the same amount of tension throughout your knitting. Avoid pulling your yarn too tightly or loosely, as it can lead to uneven stitches.
  3. Relax your grip: A tight grip on your knitting needles can lead to tight stitches. Try to relax your hands and hold the needles lightly. This will help you maintain a more even tension.
  4. Take breaks: If you find yourself getting tense or frustrated while knitting, take a break. A relaxed state of mind can help you maintain a more consistent tension.
  5. Block your finished project: Blocking is a technique used to shape and even out your knitting. It can help adjust the tension and improve the overall appearance of your project. Follow the blocking instructions specific to your yarn and project to achieve the desired tension.

Adjusting knitting tension takes practice and experimentation. With time, you will develop a feel for your knitting and be able to adjust your tension as needed to create beautiful, even stitches.

Common Mistakes in Knitting Techniques

Knitting can be a fun and rewarding hobby, but even experienced knitters can make mistakes. Here are some common mistakes to watch out for:

  • Uneven tension: One of the most common mistakes in knitting is having uneven tension. This can result in stitches that are too tight or too loose, leading to an inconsistent fabric. To improve your tension, practice knitting at a steady and relaxed pace.
  • Dropped stitches: Dropping stitches happens when a stitch is accidentally slipped off the needle and unravels down the knitting. This can be easily fixed by using a crochet hook to pick up the dropped stitch and returning it to the needle.
  • Twisted stitches: Twisted stitches occur when a stitch is knit or purled through the back loop instead of the front loop. This can result in a twisted appearance to the fabric. To correct twisted stitches, pay close attention to the direction of the stitches as you work.
  • Miscounted stitches: Miscounting stitches can lead to mistakes in shaping and can throw off the pattern repeat. Use stitch markers to help keep track of your stitches and double-check your count frequently.
  • Not checking gauge: Gauge is crucial for ensuring that your finished project turns out the correct size. Skipping this step can result in a garment that is too small or too large. Always take the time to swatch and check your gauge before starting a project.
  • Forgetting to slip the first stitch: When working in a pattern that requires a neat edge, such as a selvage stitch or garter stitch border, it’s important to remember to slip the first stitch of every row. This creates a smooth and even edge.
  • Ignoring mistakes: Mistakes can happen, but it’s important not to ignore them. Small errors can be fixed with a crochet hook or by unknitting a few stitches. Ignoring mistakes can result in a project with noticeable flaws.

Avoiding these common mistakes and paying attention to your knitting technique can help ensure that your projects turn out beautifully. Happy knitting!

Advanced Knitting Techniques

Advanced knitting techniques can take your knitting projects to the next level, allowing you to create intricate patterns and textures. These techniques require a bit more skill and practice, but the results are well worth the effort. Here are some advanced knitting techniques that you can explore:

Cable Knitting

Cable knitting involves crossing stitches over each other to create twisted patterns that resemble those found in cables. This technique adds depth and interest to your knitting projects. To create cables, you will need a cable needle or a double-pointed needle to hold stitches out of the way while you work on others.

Fair Isle Knitting

Fair Isle knitting is a colorwork technique that involves working with multiple colors in the same row or round to create intricate patterns and designs. This technique can be a bit challenging as it requires carrying the unused colors along the back of the work and ensuring an even tension.

Lace Knitting

Lace Knitting

Lace knitting is a technique that creates delicate and open patterns that resemble lace. It involves working yarn overs and decreases to create holes and openwork designs. Lace knitting requires attention to detail and working with fine yarn and smaller needles to achieve the desired effect.

Double Knitting

Double knitting is a technique that creates a double-sided fabric with a different color pattern on each side. This technique is great for reversible projects such as scarves or blankets. It involves knitting with two colors at the same time, using different knitting techniques on the front and back of the work.

Intarsia Knitting

Intarsia knitting is a colorwork technique that involves working with separate sections of color to create bold and graphic designs. This technique requires using bobbins or small balls of yarn for each color block and twisting the colors together at the color changes to prevent holes.


Steeking is a technique used in colorwork knitting to create openings or armholes in a knitted garment. It involves reinforcing the knitting with a line of machine or hand stitching and then cutting through the stitches to create the opening. This technique can be intimidating, but it allows you to knit colorwork projects in the round and then cut them open.

Entrelac Knitting

Entrelac knitting creates a textured fabric that resembles a basketweave pattern. It involves knitting small blocks or diamonds in a modular fashion and picking up stitches along the edges to work the next section. This technique requires attention to detail and working with multiple strands of yarn.

Brioche Knitting

Brioche knitting is a technique that creates a lofty and reversible fabric with a ribbed appearance. It involves working with two yarns and using a combination of knit, purl, and yarn over stitches. Brioche knitting can be challenging, but it produces beautiful results.

These advanced knitting techniques offer endless possibilities for creating unique and impressive projects. Practice and patience are key to mastering these techniques, so don’t be afraid to give them a try and experiment with different patterns and designs.


How can I increase my knitting?

There are several ways to increase your knitting. One common method is to make a yarn-over stitch, which involves wrapping the yarn around the needle and knitting into the next stitch. Another option is to use the “make one” increase, where you create a new stitch by knitting into the strand between stitches. Increasing can also be done by knitting front and back of a stitch, or by using different types of stitch patterns.

What are some techniques for decreasing in knitting?

There are a few techniques for decreasing in knitting. One method is to simply knit or purl two stitches together, which creates a decrease. Another option is to slip a stitch, knit the next stitch, and then pass the slipped stitch over the knit stitch. Alternatively, you can use a centered double decrease, where you slip two stitches together knitwise, knit the next stitch, and then pass the slipped stitches over the knit stitch. Different stitch patterns may also require specific decreasing techniques.

Can you offer any tips for increasing and decreasing in knitting?

Of course! When increasing, it’s important to make sure your new stitches are evenly spaced. You can achieve this by counting your stitches and dividing the total number of stitches evenly across each increase. When decreasing, pay attention to the stitch pattern you’re working with and choose a decrease method that complements it. It’s also helpful to use stitch markers to keep track of your decreases or increases in larger knitting projects.

Are there any common mistakes to avoid when increasing and decreasing in knitting?

Yes, there are a few common mistakes to avoid when increasing and decreasing in knitting. One mistake is accidentally adding or dropping stitches, which can throw off the shape and structure of your project. Be sure to carefully count your stitches before and after any increases or decreases to ensure they are correct. Another mistake to avoid is not being consistent with your increases or decreases throughout a project, as this can create a lopsided or uneven appearance.

Are there specific situations where certain increase or decrease techniques work best?

Yes, certain increase and decrease techniques may work best in specific situations. For example, yarn-overs are commonly used for lace knitting to create decorative holes and patterns. The “make one” increase method is often used when you want a less visible increase. Slip-slip-knit (SSK) and knit-two-together (K2tog) decreases are frequently used for shaping garments. It’s important to consider the desired effect, stitch pattern, and project type when choosing which technique to use.


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