M1L & M1R: knitting stitch structure

M1 is a good, basic increase, but it leaves a visible hole. There’s a slight modification of the technique that mostly hides this hole. The two versions of this are M1L (make one left) and M1R (make one right), which are mirrors of each other. This post is about the paths the yarn takes while forming the stitches, not how to make them. Here are some good illustrated instructions showing how to make m1 L and m1R.

My other stitch structure posts can be found in my stitch structure tag.


  1. These posts aren’t meant as instructions for how to work these stitches; instead I’m showing the structure of the resulting stitches. In aid of that, I am not showing needles in the stitches as I feel they make it harder to see the fabric structure.
  2. The yarn is drawn to be much thinner relative to the stitch size than would be practical for actual knitting. This helps make it easier to see the structure, but it doesn’t look exactly like the final knitting.
  3. The illustrations below start the same way as M1, but they diverge after the first two steps.
click image to enlarge

This illustration shows two columns of stitches that have already been worked for three rows. The first stitch of a fourth row has been knit. Now I want to make three stitches above these two stitches. What to do?

There’s lots of options here, but for m1L and m1R, I’m going to make a stitch in the row below by lifting the strand between the two stitches on the row below to make it into a loop that can be worked as a stitch. The yellow arrow in the illustration above is pointing at the strand in question.

click to enlarge

Here I’ve pulled the bar up to make a loop. (If I were including needles in the image, the loop would be on the left needle ready to be knit like a stitch.) Now is where the illustrations for m1L and m1R diverge from plain m1.

I’m going to put a half twist in this loop before I pull the yarn through it. What makes the one on the left an m1L is that the leg of the stitch that sits in front after the twist is leaning to the left; the one on the right is an m1R because the front leg leans right.

Now, when I pull a loop through the twisted loop to make a knit stitch, the legs of the pulled up bar make an X over the hole, though it’s not completely closed up, in particular because the strain of pulling yarn up from the row below to make a loop where there wasn’t one makes it harder for the yarn to relax into the hole. Still, it hides the hole better than not twisting the stitch!

When to use which

If you’re just making a random increase somewhere and you don’t want a hole, it might not matter to you which you use: m1L or m1R. If that’s the case, do the one you find easier. (Or a different increase entirely! There are other options — lifted increases, for instance, or a yarnover worked through the back loop on the next row.)

But sometimes it matters because of symmetry. For instance, if you’re knitting a triangle shawl that’s not lace, you might want to put one on either side of the center stitch. Which order do they come in? Some people prefer one, and some people prefer the other.

click image to enlarge

In this case, I often prefer to knit m1L, the center stitch, and then m1R, so the legs of the increases lean toward the center stitch.

click image to enlarge

However, I just read some instructions (not the ones linked above) saying that it’s obvious that this is the better version. It’s just a matter of opinion really; there’s no structural reason why one is better than the other.

I recommend making a sample swatch of each to see what you think. You don’t have to follow pattern instructions exactly, after all.