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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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.
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.