How to knit the KLL increase (knit left loop)

A step-by-step tutorial for the KLL knitting increase. A super invisible right-leaning increase.

A lot of increases are very visible. When you are knitting a lace shawl, this is typically what you are looking for since those beautiful eyelets are created that way. But for stockinette stitch and similar patterns, make one right or a yarnover is often not what you want.

a swatch increased with kll on the right side with green cotton yarn

By knitting through the left loop of the stitch two rows below, you create an increase that is as invisible as it gets. Here’s how you do it the continental way.

close up of a knitted swatch increased with kll on the right side

ⓘ In knitting patterns, this stitch is usually abbreviated with “KLL” – Knit left loop. This increase is sometimes also called LLI – left lifted increase. There is also a left-leaning counterpart called KRL or knit right loop. The corresponding purl decrease is PRL.

Note: I earn a small commission for purchases made through links in this article.

Knitting KLL - Step by step instructions

kll knit left loop is an almost invisible increase for stockinette stitch

Step by step written instructions on how to knit KLL - probably the most invisible right-leaning increase. This knitting stitch works best in a knit row with another knit row below.

Note: I am using a contrasting red yarn for instructional purposes only.

Active Time 1 minute
Total Time 1 minute

Instructions

  1. Knit one stitch as normal as preparation (note: this stitch is technically speaking NOT part of the KLL, so if your pattern says KLL it means you have to perform the steps starting from #2)

    knitting one stitch as preparation for the KLL increase
  2. Insert your left needle into the stitch two rows below the one you just knitted on your right needle from the back so you don’t twist it (the red one in the picture above).

    inserting the left needle into the left loop of the stitch two rows below
  3. Now, pick up only the left leg of that stitch and lift it on your left needle.

    lifting the left loop back to the left knitting needle

    Some people find it's easier to insert and lift with the right needle. So, try both and check what suits you better.
  4. Knit this extra stitch through the back loop.

    knitting the loop you just lifted through the back loop
  5. Drop the stitch and continue knitting as normal.
    the finished kll on the needles

Notes

This knitting increase works best in a knit row with another knit row below.

I do believe KLL is one of the most inconspicuous increases there is. It only looks super neat, however, if there are at least 3 rows in between each increase. If you want to increase in every row making one through the back loop (M1BL) is probably the better choice.

a sample swatch with two kll increases - one in red with a contrasting yarn and one almost invisible
The red yarn shows the stitches involved in a KLL

I personally love how invisible KLL is if you use it sparingly. Even if you know it’s there, it’s sometimes hard to see. That’s why I would recommend using it in these kinds of circumstances where you don’t increase in the very same spot in every row (increases like KFB and M1BL are much better in these situations).

comparing kll with m1l - one is invisible - the other isnt
A swatch increased with M1L and KLL to compare the two stitches

But even if you stack the increases on top of each other, the increase line is still much neater than other more common stitches. Just take a look at the swatch above. While M1L creates small eyelets, KLL creates a dense fabric that harmonizes well with the overall look and feel of stockinette stitch.

Which way does KLL lean?

a swatch increased with kll on both sides to show it's lea
A swatch increased with KLL on both sides

You probably know there are left and right-leaning increases. So, in which category does KLL fall? Well, that’s quite a difficult question. If you look at the swatch above it’s really hard to tell. Most books will categorize KLL as a right-leaning increase.

one single kll stitch macro shot to define its lean
A macro shot of a single KLL increase

Under magnification, you can clearly see how one of the stitches involved in the KLL appears to have a clear right-slant. But I see it a bit differently. Because of the mechanics of the stitch, it means you always add a stitch on the left side of it. That and only that is why I employ it on the right side of a project.

I feel the actual stitch itself is pretty unbiased. If you look even closer at a KLL, you could also say that the base-loop you knit it through ends up with a left-stant. I personally feel the increase is pretty centered.

Just one of the reasons why I love this increase so much. If you look around my blog and check out my knitting patterns (especially my mushrooms and flowers), you will soon realize that I use it for almost every project.

a swatch increased with kll and sloped edges
Note how the edges of this little triangular swatch form a curve?

That being said, be aware that because KLL makes use of the stitch one row below and thus it tends to “cinch” the fabric a bit. That’s because each decrease shortens the fabric a tiny bit in that position. As a result, it’s often not the ideal increase for projects where you want a symmetrical triangle (like a shawl). Check out my list of knitting increases in case you want to see a comparison. And I also have an article about 3 other lifted increases.

However, that effect is not necessarily bad. A lot of projects, like my very popular pumpkin pattern, use KLL to get a lovely 3-dimensional shape exactly because it shortens the stitches a bit in a very predictable way.

And that’s how to KLL in knitting the continental way. Comment below in case you have any questions.

how to knit kll knit left loop - step by step tutorial for beginners

23 thoughts on “How to knit the KLL increase (knit left loop)”

      • Thank you for such a wonderful explanation of this increase .
        I’m currently knitting a raglan top down jumper. I plan to use this increase on the sleeves and the body. Would you pair these increases in each section (eg body has a leaning R one side and a left L on the other side & the same with the sleeves? Or use one type of increase on them all? I’ve started it before I saw your post and got quite confused because as you say they are quite invisible. I have put two seal stitches so the increases happen on the stitch either side of those

        Reply
        • well…it boils down to preferences. I tend to feel that KLL looks a bit neater (for me) than KRL. So sometimes I just use KLL. But at the end of the day, you might want to knit a tiny little swatch and see what you prefer.

          Reply
  1. Step 4 should not link to your knit through back loop tutorial. You are raising the stitch 2 courses below to be mounted with the leading leg in back and then knitting through the leading leg, so the stitch is not twisted. Your ktbl page is all about knitting twisted stitches.

    Reply
    • I guess that depends on how you understand knitting, Jenn. If you believe ktbl is about twisting stitches, yes, then you are right. But ktbl literally says “knit through the back loop”, the loop in the back and not in the front. And that’s what you have to do here. Instead of entering from left to right (like a normal knit stitch) you enter from right to left.

      And on a sitenote: KTBL is not about knitting twisted stitches, many results of knitting through the leg in the back create well-balanced stitches.

      But all that is a good reminder that there is no right or wrong in knitting. You have to approach the craft with an open mind and allow other people to follow different paths.

      Reply
  2. Hi Norman
    I’m new to your website. I am battling with knit front, knit back increases after a purl row. they make my work look really messy. Do you have a remedy? I hope to incorporate your increase technique in my future knitting.

    Reply
  3. Despite having been an avid knitter for over 20 years, I have still learned so many new tricks and tips and methods and stitches from you, Norman. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge so generously!

    Reply
  4. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I lost the instructions to this increase I used previously & I’m SO pleased to have found your very clear manner of explaning.
    You saved me hours of trailing through the internet.

    Reply
  5. Wonderful tutorial Norman! I have the KLL and the KRL mastered now, but am all confused when I am following the pattern. K6 KLL KRL. Do I knit the first left loop into the left side of stitch #6, or do I knit the next stitch and do the KLL. Also is the KRL done immediately in the very next stitch after finishing the KLL. I would appreciate you clearing up this confusion on my part. Thank you. Nancy

    Reply
    • You always knit the KLL into the last stitch of the pattern. So if it’s p2, k1, KLL then you knit the KLL into the k1.

      Reply
  6. I’m knitting a long sleeve for a sweater from the bottom up. It has increases every 13 rows. So which increase would you use on the left and right end of the right side and the same on the purl side?

    Live your instructions and demonstrations! Very helpful.

    Ciao!

    Reply
  7. Hi, thanks for your comprehensive explanations…difficult to find better (text and pictures) !
    Don’t you mean “increase” instead of “decrease” underneath the first picture of the “which way does it lean” part ? And when you say “each decrease shortens the fabric a tiny bit” ? Even experts can get confuse with all that stuff !
    My swatches are never as neat as yours…(I’m not using the same kind of yarn either). I still haven’t found the right combination with all these increasing techniques to achieve my top down seamless shoulders sweater tests…I’d better just follow a pattern…but it wouldn’t be as funny as making one’s own experiments !

    Reply
    • thank you for catching that mistake. I fixed it!
      As for sweaters…well…if you want seameless and neat, knit them bottom up. A k2tog is almost invisible.
      If you do it top down, I would treat the raglan increases as an ornament and deliberatly choose an increase that looks nice. Eyelets can look great and even add a bit of ventialtion in an area where you sweat a bit more anyway.

      Reply

Leave a Comment

Skip to Instructions