Bar Increase: The Increase No One is Using?

Probably Not.  I would venture to guess that the bar increase is the most popular increase because it is easiest to perform.   But is it the right increase?  Well….that depends on the project you are working on.  Designers often tell you to increase a stitch but they don’t always tell you how to perform that increase.  That is why it is important to arm yourself with a little bit knowledges about all the types of increases available to you the knitter.

The Bar Increase is worked into both the front and back of the same stitch and is considered a closed neutral increase.  It produces a horizontal “bar” at its base and to the left of the stitch you are knitting into which is how it derives its name.  This little bump, or  bar, is also why you will need to know not only when to use it but also where to place it.
Bar Increase

The beauty of the bar increase is that it is almost invisible compared to other increases. This is the perfect increase to use when increasing above ribbing.  A pattern will generally instruct you to increase ‘x’ amount of stitches after the increasing and have them ‘evenly spaced’.  The number of stitches do not need to be exact between these increases but it is important to not place them in the first and last stitches in the row.  There are a number of formulas that knitters use to calculate the spacing of the increases but all need to take into account where that little ‘bar’ is going to fall, you want it to be unobtrusive.  Armed with the knowledge that the bar falls to the left of the stitch you are knitting into will help you make the necessary adjustments.

You can manipulate where the bar falls by determining which side of the fabric you work it on.  For instance, if you want to use this type of increase at the beginning and end of several rows (i.e. shaping a sleeve), you might stagger the rows by working the knit into the front and back on the right side and then, on the next row, purl into the front and back of the same stitch on the wrong-side of the fabric.  You will, of course, want to knit a couple stitches before working the increase.

In a pattern, the bar increase will be abbreviated:  “k1fb”, “k1f&b”, or “kfb”.  There you have it!  I hope this little bit of information helps you the next time you knit a bar increase.


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