A step by step tutorial on stacked increase knitting and everything you need to know about this technique.
Have you seen a beautiful star pattern or the infamous fox paw shawl by Xandy Peters? They all involve so-called stacked increases and in this tutorial I will show you exactly how to create these elaborated structures.
Normal knitting increases add one stitch. There are also double increases for two more stitches but that’s more or less the limit. The stacked increase, on the other hand, allows you to add a virtually infinite number of stitches in the middle of a row.
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The basic idea is quite simple. You knit a double increase into one stitch first and then you slip back two stitches and use the center stitch to make two again. By repeating these two steps over and over again (i.e. stacking them) you can increase the stitch count by any number you want.
Let’s show you how to do that!
- Step: Knit one stitch but don't drop the loop. Keep it on the needle.
- Step: Do a yarn over.
- Step: And knit into the same stitch one more time. Now you can drop the stitch off the needle. There should be three new stitches on your right needle. Step 1-3 are often abbreviated with KYOK - knit, yarn over, knit again
- Step: Slip back two stitches. There should be one new stitch remaining on the right needle. You'll often find the abbreviation sb2 in knitting pattern.
- Step: Repeat those 4 steps until you increased the required number of stitches. Each repeat will increase your stitch count by two. Start by knitting a stitch into the new first stitch on your left needle without dropping it. This will create a kind of knob that will be resolved once you knit a couple of rows across.
And here's the reason why I recommend knitting with circular or interchangeable knitting needles. Once the tension gets too high to continue stacking, simply pull out the right needle and slip the stitches onto the cable.
Continue stacking increases from here just like you would when you are knitting with the magic loop technique. Of course, you can do this multiple times in a row in case you need to increase to a really high number of stitches. And as you are working flat, all stitches will be back on the cable at the end of the row.
And here’s one more important thing to know: This technique is labeled as an increase. But actually, it’s better viewed as a kind of mid-row cast on where you create a knit stitch on each side of a central line of yarn overs. As such, you can actually use it as an alternative to the knitted cast-on for projects knit in the round.
As a result, you should also be aware that this increasing technique won’t lay flat without blocking. The more you increase the bigger a ridge you will create. A lot of patterns will even it out by adding stacked decreases or binding off straight away.
When you are knitting in the round, this actually is an advantage. It’s the only way I know you can let a tubular project branch out vertically at a right angle (without seaming or picking up stitches). Alas, the stacked increase is full of eyelets. So, it’s probably not a good solution for parts of garments (one could think of baby shoes, sock heels, or top town sweaters) that will experience a lot of strain.
How to prevent holes when knitting stacked increases
There’s one thing that I really don’t like about the standard method of knitting stacked increases: You end up with big holes right at the base of the stack. Now admittedly, those holes are less visible if you knit with most animal-based fibers. My cotton swatch really brings out the worst (but that’s one of the reasons I am using it for my tutorials).
Still, there’s an easy way to prevent those holes.
The solution? You have to adjust the steps for the first stack (and only the first) and increase with M1L and M1R instead.
- Step 1: Knit a M1R
- Step 2: Slip one stitch (this should be the stitch you would normally start the increase)
- Step 3: Knit a M1L
- Step 4: Slip back two stitches
- Step 5: Continue stacking increases as I showed you above from here (so knit, yarn over, knit again into the same stitch, then slip 2 back)
Stacked increase – other Options
Once you understand the guiding principle behind the stacked increase, you can really start getting creative. You can achieve similar results by knitting a kfbf – knit front, back, front triple increase into a stitch over and over again.
This will a bit more condensed with a more pronounced centerline. Especially for shawls and other flat projects, this could be a very nice alternative in my opinion.
Another thing you should be aware of is that you can stack stacked increased upon each other. In the next row, you can add yet another stack of increases. This will make the fabric branch out to the sides.