How to M1l and M1R – The best knitting increases for beginners

Everything you need to know about the M1l and M1R knitting increases. They form a pair of right and left-leaning increases and are easy to knit.

So, your pattern asks you to M1R and M1L and you have no clue what it means and how to knit it? Well, then you came to the right place! In this knitting tutorial, I’m going to show you step by step how to knit this easy knitting increase and everything you need to watch out for.

At the very end of this post, I’m also providing you a little help remembering the differences between the two very similar stitches. So, make sure to scroll all the way to the bottom.

A swatch with m1r and m1l on either side of a purl row
A swatch with M1R and M1L increases to either side of a purl row

What does M1R and M1L mean in knitting?

In knitting patterns, M1R means “make one right” and M1L means “make one left”. They are both knitted in a very similar way. You pick up the yarn from a strand in between two stitches, and then the biggest difference is the way you knit that extra loop. If you knit it through the back loop you create a left-leaning increase, and if you knit it through the front part of the loop, you create a right-leaning increase. There’s also a double increase called M2 where you perform this increase twice in the same stitch.

So, let’s show you how to do that.

Make One Right (M1R)

First, we’ll start with ‘Make One Right’ or M1R how it’s abbreviated in knitting patterns.

Step 1: Pick up the rib between two stitches with the left needle from the behind.

Make one right with a right slanted loop picked up

Step 2: Knit the extra loop like a regular knit stitch (so through the front loop). It’s a bit twisted, so take your time inserting your needle.

A knit stitch for the m1r

Done. Continue knitting according to your pattern. It’s that simple, really!

Make One Left (M1L)

And here are the instructions for the corresponding ‘Make on Left’.

Step 1: Pick up the strand between two stitches with the left needle from the front.

Make on left with a left slanted stitch on the left needle

Step 2: Knit the additional loop through the back loop.

Knitting through the back loop for a m1l

In the next row, you can knit both increases like regular stitches & according to your pattern.

Note: You cannot perform this increase on the last stitch of any row, as there will be no loop to pick up. In this case, you need to resort to the KLL increase or KFB.

What is the difference between M1l and M1R

Graphic showing the difference between m1l and m1r

The M1R creates a right slanted increase and M1L a left slanted increase. Hence their names. Typically, M1R is used on the ride side of a garment and M1L on the corresponding left side to create an even and harmonic widening of the fabric. M1R means picking up the yarn so the front part of the loop leans towards the right and then knitting it. M1L means, picking the yarn so the front part leans to the left and then knitting it through the back loop.

But here’s the important part: That doesn’t mean either stitch will make your fabric lean to the right or left and you can’t use it on the other side as well. In fact, if you use M1R and M1L the other way around on either side of a knit stitch, your fabric will get the same triangle look.

Instead, right-leaning just means, that the single increase stitch will look like it leans to the right, which obviously will look best if the rest of the fabric leans in that direction as well. Typically is on the right side of the fabric, but if you are knitting in the round, things aren’t that easy anymore. Then you really have to think in which direction the little “line” consecutive increases create needs to lean and pick the corresponding increase. But naturally, nothing speaks again getting creative and finding your very own style.

A swatch to show the difference between m1r and m1l
The same increases (and decreases) were knitted on either side of the row in this swatch.

If you take a very close look at the swatch above, you will notice the differences are quite minuscule. However, you will notice that a M1R will create a little ridge when used on the left side and no ridge on the right side. For the M1L the opposite is true. (I blocked the swatch, but that’s because you will end up blocking your garment as well.)

How to remember which way to knit an M1R and an M1L?

I know, it can be hard to memorize which way to wrap the yarn. It’s easy to mix up whether you should knit it or knit it through the back loop, etc. But here are some tips that help me:

Top view of a M1R stitch
Top view of a M1R loop. You have to insert your needles to the right of the left needle, so a standard knit stitch
  • M1R: If you want a right-leaning increase, you need to make one right. This means you need to pick up the yarn in a way so the front loop leans to the right. And then knit through the right side of the loop as you look onto your needles from above.
  • M1L: If you want a left-slanting increase, you need to make one left. This means you pick up the yarn so the loop ends up leaning to the left. And knit it through the left part of the loop as you look onto your needles (so through the back loop)

You could also say, for a M1R you need to pick up the yarn so it wraps around your needle doing a right turn, and a left turn for M1L. And then, always: You don’t want to create an eyelet/hole with this increase. So, you always knit the stitch twisted!

Aha? So how does this help you?

Easy!

A standard knit stitch always has the front loop leaning to the left.

So, for a M1L, you have a loop that leans to the left. So, the loop looks like a knit stitch. If you knit this loop with a standard knit stitch, you’d create a hole. Instead, you need to knit it twisted.

And for the M1R, well the loop leans to the right. So, it’s already twisted. This means, if you knit it the standard way, you end up with a twisted stitch already.

M1PR and M1PL – increasing on the purl side

Sometimes, you need to increase on the purl side. Then you have to adapt this increase accordingly. Most knitters will shy away from it and increases will look much neater if you space them out across knit rows (which means you only increase every two rows!) but of course sometimes there’s no way around it. So, here’s how to knit that

M1PL (Make one pUrl Left):

Step 1: Insert the left needle into the rib between two stitches from the front.

Make one purl left with a left slanted loop picked up from below

Step 2: Purl through the back loop

Make one purl left mean purling the stitch through the back loop

M1PR (make one purl right):

Step 1: Insert the left needle into the rib between two stitches from the back.

A purl one right stitch

Step 2: Purl through the front loop (so a regular purl stitch)

Make one purl right means purl through the front loop

Important note:You have to be able to think laterally a bit here, as obviously a left-slanting stitch will appear right-slanting on the right side.

So, that’s it! That’s how you knit m1r and m1l. I Hope this knitting tutorial really helped you. Let me know how it went in the comments below, eh?

How to knit the M1R and M1L knitting increase

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