I'll never forget my first sweater. There I was zipping along in my trusty garter stitch, feeling like a boss, when I saw it: "Inc 1." Inc wha??? I immediately started doubting myself: What made me think I could knit a sweater?!
Eventually I learned how to "inc 1." And you know what? The sweater turned out great! And you know what else? It wasn't that hard!
"Inc 1” means increase by one stitch. This type of increase is also sometimes referred to as "the bar increase" because it results in what looks like a little bar running across your work. It may also be denoted as "kfb" or "kf&b," meaning "knit front and back" (you'll see why in a minute).
Invisible vs. Visible Increases
Knitting increases can be visible or invisible, depending on the type of stitch. A bar increase won't be very noticeable in a bumpy stitch like a seed stitch or garter stitch (which is what I’ve used in my swatch above). It can be visible, though, on the right side of stockinette stitch.
While I typically prefer invisible increases, there are times when it doesn’t matter. Some sweaters patterns, for instance, have you work the increase near the edge of the piece, so the bump-up will be buried under your arm or in a seam. No one is going to see that increase unless you raise your arm and point it out!
A visible increase can actually be helpful in some situations. It lets you see exactly where you last increased — which is helpful for distracted knitters like me who like to stitch and dish at the same time.
How to Increase 1
Increasing by one stitch is a lot easier than it sounds: You just need to know how to make a knit stitch .
1. Knit your row up until the point when the pattern instructs you to "Inc 1." (For my swatch, I knit the first stitch in the row, then made the Inc 1.)
2. Knit the next stitch on the needle as you normally would, stopping just before you drop it from the left needle. Don’t drop it from the left needle once you’ve completed the stitch! Let it hang out on the left needle. If you’re following my swatch, you’ll have two stitches on your right needle.
3. Now, knit into the back of that same stitch you just knit. To do this, insert the right-hand needle into the back of the stitch working from front to back. (Do not knit it the same way you usually knit stitches.)
See how the needle is going into the stitch from a different direction than the usual knit stitch?
4. Now you can drop the stitch from the left needle.
Look! What was once two stitches has metamorphosed into three. Those three stitches now sit on the right-hand needle.
The good news: You'll never have to wing this! Your pattern will always tell you when to increase the stitches, and it will also have a handy note at the end of the instructions telling you how many stitches should be on your needle when you complete the row, like this: Row 3: K1, inc 1, k to end of the row. (17 <sts).
No doubting yourself now!