Working increases when knitting
Most knitting patterns will just use the term “inc” to say to work an increase. For these patterns, it is useful to know a few ways of doing increases – and there are many ways.
An Increase in knitting occurs when you do something so that where there was only one stitch in the previous row, now there are two (or more).
Increases are a key component in shaping a project. Typical places that you will need to increase for shaping are for the arms of sleeves.
One of the common methods of doing a knitting increase is abbreviated KFB, which means to knit into the front and back of the next stitch. It’s a method that I use most often, probably because that’s what my mom taught me a few decades ago!
And the title does describe how it works: you knit a stitch into both the front and back of the next stitch.
KFB Step 1: Almost knit the next stitch
The first step is to do MOST of a knit stitch into the next stitch on the old needle (usually the left-hand needle).
But stop just after you have drawn the yarn through the loop on the old needle. DO NOT remove the stitch from that needle.
The photo shows this partially completed knit stitch. Notice that the stitch has not yet been removed from the left-hand needle.
KFB Step 2: Insert needle through back of same stitch
Now, twist the right-hand needle so that it can be inserted into the BACK of that stitch that is still on the left-hand needle.
These two photos two different angles of the needle position at this point.
In this photo, the right-hand needle is the one whose point you can just barely see behind the left-hand needle.
And in this photo, the point of the right-hand needle is clearly visible behind the left-hand needle.
KFB Step 3: Complete second knit stitch
Now, wrap the yarn around the right-hand needle just like you would for a normal knit stitch (counterclockwise, or bring it under the needle and then over the top of the needle).
Draw the yarn through the stitch on the left-hand needle. Make sure that you bring the yarn cleanly through the open loop of that stitch – don’t accidentally bring any other yarn through (like the side of the stitch, or the stitch below).
The three photos show the yarn being drawn through.
KFB Step 4: drop the stitch from the old needle
And finally, the stitch on the left-hand needle is dropped, and the increase is complete.
In this photo, you can see that where there was one stitch in the row below, there are now two stitches on the needle.
What does the KFB look like when done?
This photo shows the beginning of a row whose directions started with:
Knit 1, Increase in next stitch, Knit 3 stitches.
It is rare to do an increase on the very first stitch of a row.
Note the little bump that is clearly visible between the second and third stitches on the needle (counting from the right). That bump is characteristic of the KFB form of increase. Some patterns will use this bump as a design feature.
And this photo shows the end of a row whose directions ended with:
Knit until 2 stitches remain, Increase in next stitch, Knit 1.
It is rare to do an increase on the very last stitch of a row.
Note that the little bump is to the right of the last stitch.
On the KFB increase, the first part of the increase (the knit-into-the-front portion) will always look just like an ordinary knit stitch, but the second part (the knit-into-the-back portion) will always have the bump.
Where to use the KFB increase?
The fact that a bump is visible on the right side can be a feature or a flaw.
If you are working a long piece with increases every few rows on the side edge (such as the arm of a sleeve), the bump is very useful. It is a clearly visible row counting helper.
But if you are working increases into a large expanse of stocking stitch, the bump could be a distraction. Or a design feature.
Try this form of knitting increase in your next project.