Have you ever read a knitting pattern that has the abbreviation “M1”? This abbreviation stands for “make 1” in knitting. The more you knit, the more you’ll see it pop up. It’s quite common, so most patterns don’t take the time to explain how to do it. This can be super confusing for a beginner! Don’t worry — we’ll help you conquer this stitch.
The make 1 in knitting is an increase that adds one new stitch. This is done by lifting a strand of yarn onto the needle and stitching it a little differently than usual. The strand comes from in between two stitches that you already have on your needle.
The M1 can be a little confusing at first, but once you practice it, you’ll find it useful in many different patterns, from sweaters to shawls and anything else that requires shaping. Take a look at the different ways to M1, plus a tutorial for each.
M1L vs. M1R
There are two different types of make 1: M1L (Make One Left) and M1R (Make One Right).
The M1L creates an increase that leans to the left, while the M1R creates an increase that leans to the right. Look closely at the photo above. The arrows are pointing to the M1L and M1R in the swatch above. See how the stitches appear almost invisibly? That’s how you know it’s a good way to increase! Note that the M1L leans toward the left while the M1R leans to the right.
The way the increase leans isn’t always important. Some patterns, like shawls, might count on the lean of the stitch for design elements. However, other patterns will not specify. If the pattern does not specify which one to use, just choose the one you like best.
How to make 1 in knitting
Finding the bar
Before you try the M1, identify the bar between the two stitches.
Gently pull your knitting apart and notice the horizontal bar or strand that runs in between each stitch. This is the bar of yarn that you will be adding to the needle to make an extra stitch. (Check out the photo above for an example.)
M1L (make 1 left) tutorial
1. Insert the left needle under the bar from front to back. This forms a new loop on the left needle.
Tip: Getting the stitch onto the left needle can be tricky sometimes, especially if your knitting is tight. If you can’t seem to get the left needle into the stitch, feel free to use the right needle — or even your fingers — to slide the stitch into place.
2. Knit the stitch through the back loop. When you’re knitting through the back loop, you’re coming in from a different direction than you normally would. Check out our tutorial on knitting through the back loop for more help.
You now have one new stitch!
M1R (make 1 right) tutorial
1. Insert the needle under the bar from back to front. This forms a new loop on the left needle.
Tip:Just like in the M1L, getting the stitch onto the left needle can be tough if you knit tightly. Feel free to use the right needle or fingers to lift the bar and slide the stitch into place.
2. Knit the stitch through the front of the loop. Note that even though you are knitting through the front loop, this will not feel like a normal knit stitch because you are adding a little twist to the stitch, which prevents a hole. So while it may feel a little weird, you’re doing it right!
You now have one new stitch on your needle.
M1 on the purl side
Most shaping is done on the right side of the work, but you can apply the exact same instructions as above to the purl side of your knitting, too. Instead of adding a new knit stitch, you’ll just be adding a new purl stitch. Follow these same instructions, keeping the yarn in the front of the work and purling instead of knitting that new stitch.
Where you’ll see M1
M1 is a very popular increase in modern knitting patterns. Here are a few scenarios when you might come across M1:
- Working a sleeve from the bottom up
- Knitting a shawl, like this Moondance shawl or Waves Along the Shore shawl.
- Knitting a sweater from the bottom up
- Knitting anything that increases in size as you knit, like these Blossoms Mitts
- Knitting amigurumi, like this adorable Sleepy Fox
When you’re ready to try the M1, work up a few swatches and see how it looks before you dive into a project.
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