You probably know how to knit into the back of a stitch and — if you're really good — maybe even into the front of a stitch. But knitting into the stitch below is a little trickier. It's worth mastering, though, because it gives you a cozy, squishy fabric that lots of knitters associate with brioche (which, admittedly, is a bit of an advanced technique).
Sometimes "knit into the stitch below" is abbreviated as K1B (knit 1 below). No matter the nomenclature, it works like the usual knit stitch does, except that you're changing where you insert your right needle. That's it! The stitch count never changes, and the K1B gives you a gorgeous texture.
When to use it
This technique is probably most popularly used in the fisherman's rib, an alternating pattern of knit and purl stitches. Here, the K1B pulls the stitches upward and stacks two knit stitches on top of each other, making the fabric thicker and squishier. That's the example we'll use below.
Yarns that work well
Because the K1B helps create a soft, dreamy knit, I love pairing it with soft, chunky yarns. You can also hold your favorite thinner yarn doubled to create that same chunky look.
For this tutorial, I'm using Cloudborn Superwash Merino Bulky in Grey Heather.
Making it happen
Before you knit into the stitch below, you need to know how to identify the stitch in your fabric.
Knit stitches are made up of little Vs. Each V is one knit stitch, and you can stick your knitting needle right through the center of it. (If you're having problems finding that V, try tugging on your knit fabric just a little to see the Vs better.)
In the photo above, the arrows are pointing to the center of the V stitch where your needle will go as you work across the next row. We're going to be working into that center space. Here's how:
Insert the right needle into the center of the V space right below the next stitch on your needle. We're not inserting it into the stitch on the needle like usual; we're inserting it right below that stitch.
Now we're going to knit that stitch just like we would if the stitch were on the needle: Wrap the working yarn around the right needle.
Pull the working yarn through the center of the stitch, just like you would for your usual knit stitch.
Now for the (really not so) scary part: Drop the old stitch from the left needle, again just like you would for your usual knit stitch.
That stitch is still secure, though. Flip your work to the wrong side and check out how both the stitch on the current row and the stitch in the row below are both safely wrapped around your new stitch. (The arrows in the photo above are pointing to those two stitches.) There are no dropped stitches. Breathe a big sigh of relief!
That's truly all there is to it. You can use this technique any time the pattern calls for it, or just when you want to add a bit more texture to your project.