Sunday, September 16, 2012

Week 4: The Next Step: Increases, Decreases, Binding off

So by now you should have figured out how to knit a piece of fabric using combinations of knit and purl stitches. You should have also figured out that this isn't really going to take you anywhere. No matter what combinations of knits and purls you use, you're still going to be knitting nothing but squares and rectangles. It's very difficult to turn a square or rectangle into a pair of socks, a sweater, or mittens. This is where it becomes important to learn increases and decreases.

Learning how to increase and decrease will expand your options. Instead of knitting just squares and rectangles, you'll be able to knit just about any shape you'd like (especially when combined with tubular knitting in the round, which we'll learn in just a couple weeks).


So there are quite a few way to make an increase, and each is used for slightly different reasons. One increase might lean slightly to the left, one type may leave a little hole, and another may lean to the left. Knitting patterns will call for specific types of increases, but the kind of increase shown in this next video is a very common and very useful one. By knitting into a stitch twice before sliding it off the needle, you create two stitches where one used to be. This stitch is called a Knit Front And Back (which may be abbreviated as a K1FB, or KFB). Watch the video and give it a shot.

To practice increases, you can simply cast on one or two stitches. Then on every other row (all rows when side A of the fabric is facing you), increase every other stitch. This will form a triangle that gets wider and wider the more you knit.


The decrease is the opposite and compliment of the increase. Instead of turning one stitch into two, you're simply going to turn two stitches into one. There are quite a few ways to do this, just like there are quite a few different ways to increase. Each different way has slightly differing results. One type of decrease might slant to the right, another might slant to the left, etc. Perhaps the easiest and most common way to decrease is the Knit Two Together, or the K2TOG.

To practice, take your same triangle you just knit to practice increases, and do the opposite. On every other row, decrease every so often--- knit, k2tog, knit, k2tog, etc. Or try knit, knit, k2tog. Knit, knit, k2tog. You'll find that different patterns of increasing and decreasing for different kinds of shapes. Try just decreasing the first and last two stitches of a row, or just decreasing the middle. Play around with mixing increases and decreases. You'll be amazed at the variety of shapes your knitting with produce.

Binding Off

You may have already tried taking your work off the needles when you're "done" knitting a piece of fabric. And what happened? The whole thing slowly begins to unravel. Loops get pulled through loops, and all that you get is a pile of tangled yarn. So what do you do when you've reached the end of your work, and you want to have a lovely scarf that doesn't fall to pieces when you wear it? You bind off.

Binding off simply binds the edge of your knitting into one piece. Instead of having loops at the edge, you'll have a nice seam like you do at the edge where you cast on. Binding off is fairly simple. You simply knit stitches, and pass them over other stitches, just a couple at a time. The following video will teach you how.


Alright folks, it's up to you to perfect your knitting, purling, decreases, increases, casting on, and binding off, because next week we're going to learn how to read a simple pattern, and you'll get a chance to knit an actual finished project if you'd like before we dive into some more complicated techniques (like knitting in the round). Good luck, and I'll see you next week!

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