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Knit 1 front and back (also known as the bar increase) is one of the most common non-eyelet increases we use, but it leaves a noticeable horizontal bar in the knit fabric. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a simple modification that would reduce the impact of the bar, but maintain the simplicity of the technique?
I am so glad you asked! Let’s take a fresh look at one of knitting’s standard increases and see if we can tweak it a bit.
The Idea: K1 Back then Front
Grab your needles and some scrap yarn so you can see what happens when we reverse the order and knit into the back first. Cast on 20 stitches or so, knit a few rows of stockinette, then try the standard k1 f&b; as you twist the right needle around to the back to knit into the back leg of the loop you’ll remember pretty quickly how awkward it is.
The issue with this increase is that the 2 stitches are knit in opposite directions, the first stitch twists right and the second left. This makes it stand out next to all its run of the mill neighbors.
Now Try It This Way
Now let’s try it the other way and see what happens (spoiler alert, it’s better)
When you knit into the back then the front, the second step twists the left leg of the yarn loop counter clockwise. There is a twofold impact, first the twisted loops don’t fight each other and sit better in the knit fabric. Second, the vertical leg (that now looks like its neighboring stitches) sits in front of the horizontal bar somewhat masking it.
I’m much happier with the result, and think you will be also, especially with bulky yarn or when the pattern calls for several increases.
Tip: When knitting the original or new version of the increase, make sure that first stitch is not too loose. It’s easy for it to stretch out.
The result also looks better from far away. Take a look at this picture taken across the swatch.
Update: There were a few questions on Knitting Paradise so I’ll add a verbal set by step here. Once you ‘get it’ you’ll never need to read the directions again.
Don’t forget you can get free tutorials for all of our “Nuances” on our website Techniques section including the Showy Decrease and Flat i-Cord.