The First Increase a Beginner Knitter Learns – Bar Increase

Increases in Knitting

An increase (inc) made in knitting adds a stitch. The stitches added increase the size of a piece of knitting. Like decreases, increases are used to shape knit fabric. Increases are also used in fancy stitch patterns, such as lace and bobbles. The garment areas that use increases include the sides of sleeves, and shaping a waist. For a typical sleeve, regular increases are made to the side edges to reach the required number of stitches at the armhole.

As with decreases there are different types of increase methods: yarnovers, raised, lifted, and bar. Casting on can also be used to increase stitches, but is more appropriate when adding three or more stitches at either side of the work. There are increase types that have a right or left slant. Some increases are inconspicuous, and others are visible for decorative purposes. Pattern instructions do not always indicate the type of increase to use. When you become familiar with the various methods, you can then choose the appropriate one for the project.

The Bar Increase

swatch with paired bar increases

The bar increase is usually the first increase beginners learn. The bar increase is visible and decorative. It’s easily counted to keep track of over several rows. A horizontal bar follows the increased stitch on the knit side of the work, regardless if the increase is made on a knit or purl side.

The bar increase is made by working into the same stitch twice. Because the bar always follows the increased stitch, you must allow for this when pairing increases. For example, if the bar increase is made three stitches in on the right edge, it should be made four stitches in on the left edge, so they look symmetric.

Bar increase on a knit row: Work to where the increase is to be made; insert right needle into the stitch on the left needle. Wrap the yarn around the right needle and pull through stitch as if to knit, but do not drop it off the needle. Instead, knit again into the back of the same stitch.

Bar increase on a purl row: Purl the stitch to be increased, but do not drop it off the needle. Instead, purl again into the back of the same stitch.

making bar increase on knit and purl sides
Making a bar increase
(Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Needlework, p. 291)

The bar increase is simple to make, and is usually the first one a beginner knitter learns. Do try other increase methods, because there are more options to choose from, which will enhance the appearance of your projects.