Once you start branching out from knitting scarves or blankets, you will need to learn how to increase or decrease your stitches. These methods are by far the most common I’ve come across yet.
kfb/pfb – Knit Front to Back/Purl Front to Back
This technique is a little tricky at first, but it will result in a nearly invisible increase of one stitch.
Once you get to the point in your pattern that indicates kfb, knit the next stitch as you usually would, but don’t slip the old stitch off the needle just yet. You’ll have something that looks like this:
Next, draw the yarn between the needles, so it hangs down the front.
Now, insert your working needle into the front of the old stitch, as if to purl, and bring your yarn over.
Complete the stitch, and let the old one drop.
You’ll be left with a tiny, barely noticeable hole in the fabric, depending on yarn weight and needle size.
Purl front to back is done in the same way, but with the purl stitch instead of knit stitch.
yo – Yarn Over
The next most common method is yo, or yarn over. This is also used to create eyelet button holes and as decoration for certain projects.
To do this, loop your yarn over the working needle.
Then, just knit the next stitch as usual.
You’ll be left with a more obvious hole than kfb.
K2tog/p2tog – Knit/Purl Two Together
These are quite possibly the easiest decreasing methods out there. You can easily do it in either knit or purl stitches.
First, slip the next two stitches onto your working needle.
Then, just knit or purl as if you’ve only slipped one stitch onto the other needle.
Once finished, you’d need to look closely at the fabric in order to see where the decrease was, but you should be able to see a distinct overlap of stitches on the knit side. It’s a bit less noticeable on the purl side.
SSK – Slip, Slip Knit
While this stitch might seem a bit redundant at first, it’s actually far less obvious than the k2tog stitch for some reason. There are a couple more steps involved, but once you get the hang of it, it’s very easy to do.
First, slip the next two stitches onto your working needle, and off the one they were on.
Then, slip the needle you just moved the stitches off into their backs, as if you are going to knit them together.
You do that because you ARE going to knit them together.
Finally, slip the new stitch onto your working needle.
As you can see, it’s almost impossible to tell where the decrease happened in the finished project.
Although there are other techniques for increasing and decreasing, these are the ones I come across most often. I also used what seem to be the most common abbreviations, as well.
For more basic knitting lessons, please visit the Knitting Basics Master Page.
Note: It must be the lighting or something, but if my fingertips look a little blue in some of those pictures, I assure you they’re not. I couldn’t figure out how to fix all of these images properly. I’m not sick, I swear.