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 how to knit this easy knitting increase and everything you need to watch out for.
At the very end of this post, you’ll find a very easy memory hook to tell these two very similar increases apart. Because, let’s be honest, as a beginner these can be confusing. I’ll also show you how and where to use them for the best results.
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. The biggest difference lies in 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. The corresponding increase for the wrong side would be M1PL and M1PR. There’s also there simple Make One (M1) and a double increase called M2 where you perform this increase twice in the same stitch.
So, let’s show you how to do that.
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How to knit M1R & M1L
Make One Left and Make One Right form a pair you can use to increase a project evenly on both sides. Both make use of the strand between two stitches from the previous row and are quite easy to knit.
M1R: We'll start with 'Make One Right' first.
- Pick up the strand between two stitches with the left needle coming from behind.
- Insert the right needle into the lifted strand from left to right.
Note: This can sometimes be a bit fiddly. So go slowly and knit very close to the tip of the needle. Sometimes it helps to loosen up the loop a bit with your right needle from the other side first before you attempt to insert.
- Wrap the working yarn around counter-clockwise and pull through.
Then, drop the stitch off the left needle as normal. Essentially, you are knitting a regular knit stitch through the strand you picked up.
M1L: And here are the instructions for the corresponding 'Make on Left'.
- Pick up the strand between two stitches with the left needle coming from the front.
- Insert the right needle into the lifted strand through the back loop. So, from right to left and in the back of your work.
- Wrap the working yarn around the needle counter-clockwise and pull through to the front. Then, drop the stitch off the left needle.
Basically, you are knitting a knit through the back loop (ktbl) into the lifted strand.
What is the difference between M1l and M1R?
M1R creates a right-slanting increase and M1L a left-slanting increase. Hence their names. Typically, M1R is used on the right side of a central decrease line 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, you will achieve the same triangular shape.
Instead, right-leaning just means that the single increase stitch will look like it leans to the right. Obviously, this will look best if the rest of the fabric leans in that direction as well.
Consider that if you use the same increase in the same position in every second row, then the increases will form a line. For example, you start every right-side row with: knit 4, M1L,… and end the row with …., M1R, knit 4. And this line will look different depending on which stitch you pick.
If you take a very close look at the swatch below, you will notice the differences are quite minuscule. However, you will notice that a M1R will create a harmonic ridge when used on the left side and no ridge on the right side. For the M1L the opposite is true. Typically, this decrease line is the desired effect for most knitting patterns.
So, it is important to realize that, depending on the position in your fabric you want to place an increase (meaning center or on the edges) a different stitch might be preferred.
Things to consider when using these Increases
There’s one more thing I would like to mention here. Both M1R and M1L make use of a strand from a row below, a bit like a lifted increase. So, as you knit the increase, you steal a little length of yarn from the two adjacent stitches. As a result, the fabric will lose a bit of horizontal stretchiness.
If you are knitting a project with a loose gauge and only one or two increases per row, this effect is utterly neglectable. But suppose you have a pattern where you knit a Make One Right between every third stitch or so. Then it could noticeably shape the fabric. This doesn’t necessarily have to be bad. I just want you to be aware of the effect these increases can have.
To avoid this effect, you’d have to knit a KFB or a backward loop increase instead.
How to remember which way to knit an M1R and an M1L?
I know, it can be hard to memorize which way to pick up the yarn. It’s also easy to mix up whether you should knit it or knit it through the back loop, etc. But here are some tips that helped me a lot:
- 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 part of the lifted loop leans to the right. And then you always knit the loop through the part that is closest to the next stitch – so the front part, in this case.
- 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 part that is closest to the next stitch – 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 as you don’t want to create an eyelet/hole with this increase, you always knit the stitch twisted!
Aha? So how does this help you?
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, 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 it has to be said that 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 or you want to increase only on the wrong side. So, here’s how to knit that
M1PL (Make one pUrl Left):
Step 1: Insert the left needle into the strand between two stitches coming from the front.
Step 2: Purl through the back loop.
M1PR (make one purl right):
Step 1: Insert the left needle into the rib between two stitches coming from the back.
Step 2: Purl through the front loop (so a regular purl stitch).
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.
12 thoughts on “How to M1l and M1R – The best knitting increases for beginners”
So helpful! I am an accomplished knitter but ran into a pattern that offset SSK and K2tog with YO’s. The latter left unwanted holes so I thought to use M1’s instead. Further confound was that the pattern is knit in reverse stockinette stitch (P side as the RS). I wasn’t clear on M1PL vs M1PR and voila! I found your tutorial with written out instructions. Thank you.
Hey Nancy, very happy to hear I was able to help you!
Thanks. I needed this. Clear and concise instructions for all four increases in one tutorial – great. Now I just need to finish the cowl that calls for them. Never done M1 Purl increases before and this is a good guide for the beginner. Glad for your help.
I wonder if you can help me? I am knitting a glove on dpn’s, (my first set) it has a thumb gusset. As I finished the ribbing for the wrist I am making increases every second round, but the pattern only says m1,k3,m1 … and so on. I managed to get the left glove done just fine, but now I’m onto the right glove I can’t figure out which side to make first? I’ve only done 6 rows so far so only 3 mk1 rounds, and I can’t see a pattern forming. Does that make any sense?
I’m sorry, but I do not comment on other designers’ patterns. i don’t feel that’s my place. Typically you have to mirror increases on the other glove.
How do you know which way you want the increase to lead? Does M1R increase right as you’re looking down at the knitting or if you look at your knitting from the front?
Stage left & right or audience left & right (so to speak)?
I don’t quite understand that quesiton. I mean, if you scroll down there is a whole section about the lean/slant of these increases. What else do you need to know?
I am always a little confused when knitting the raglan line in top-down sweaters. On the increase row I tend to knit left front, M1L, knit sleeve, M1R, knit back, M1L, knit sleeve M1R, knit right front. I’d welcome hearing your thoughts specific to raglan lines.
I am not entirely sure what your question is? My thoughts on raglan lines is that you knit bottom-up but I am not sure that is what you want to hear. haha.
I love your tutorials! They are so helpful and clear. Just wanted to thank you!
Thank you for this detailed “dissection” of M1, Norman. Before this I didn’t even know we can m1 purlwise as well. Very insightful, keep up the good work!
Thank you very much for this wonderfully detailed and thorough demonstration/tutorial. I am working on my first project with M1R & M1L increases, and quite frankly have found it to be rather overwhelming whilst searching for a clear explanation of how to execute these stitches. I have pulled my project back to the start twice, after thinking I finally understood the method, but then making mistakes. After reading your tutorial (and bookmarking it) I feel confident to have another try. Best wishes from Australia 🇦🇺😊