Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Knitting into the stitch below

CAUTION: There are TWO DIFFERENT METHODS SOMETIMES CALLED "KNIT INTO THE STITCH BELOW".  The trick shown here makes a thick, cushy fabric, but is NOT an increase--it does NOT ADD any stitches to the fabric.  The OTHER kind of "knit into the stitch below" is what I call the "nearly invisible increase."  The nearly invisible increase DOES ADD a stitch to the fabric.

It is true that both of of these techniques involve the stitch below, but they are NOT the same thing.  Confusing one for the other will cause no end of problems in trying to follow a pattern!

* * *

4 illustrations, click any illustration to enlarge.
Instructions for various fabric patterns instruct you to "knit into the stitch below." Sometimes, the instructions are a bit more elaborate, stating something like this: "stab the right needle into the stitch below the next stitch on your left needle, knit that stitch, then drop it and the stitch above it off the left needle at the same time."

If this confuses you, you are not alone. Here it is, illustrated:

Step 1: Normally, you would insert the right needle into the blue stitch, because the blue stitch is the next stitch coming up on the left needle. However, to knit into the stitch below, you must locate the stitch BELOW the blue stitch, which is the green stitch in this diagram. Note that it is going to be easier to knit into the green stitch if you get a good grasp of the fabric and stretch it out, which will open the green stitch so that the right needle can be easily inserted along the red arrow path. (If you click on this diagram, it will become much larger, and it will be easier to see all the details.)

Diagram 1 (above) shows a continental knitter (yarn fed on off the left hand) but it matters not which hand feeds the yarn: in this stitch (like every knitting stitch) the path of the yarn through the stitch is the same for continental (left handed feed) and English/throwing style (right handed feed).

Step 2: The right needle has been inserted into the green stitch along the red arrow path of diagram 1, the standing yarn (pink) has been caught on the right needle and the loop of pink yarn, shown pulled through the green stitch, is about to become the newest stitch on the right needle. As you can see, the blue stitch (stitch above) has not yet been released from the left needle. Releasing the blue stitch is the last step in the process, because, by tensioning the blue stitch (stitch above) between the right and left needles while stretching the fabric downward with one or two hands, it is much easier to pull the running yarn (pink) through the green stitch (stitch below).

Diagram 2 (above) above features an English style (throwing) knitter, and the yarn is being fed off the knitter's right hand. Again, the path of the yarn through the stitch is not altered by the hand doing the yarn feed. (If you want to read more about left-handed feed vs. right-handed feed, click here.)

Step 3: The blue stitch (stitch above) has been released and the pink loop is now officially a stitch, sitting on the right hand needle. Note the path of the pink yarn through BOTH the blue AND the green stitches. This is because the blue stitch, which has not been knitted, "runs down" one row until the pink yarn through the green stitch catches it and prevents it from running further.

There are two general uses of this trick. First, it is sometimes used to get rid of a stitch--to park a stitch in the row below and get it out of the way. As an example, in the post of March 3, 2009, TECHknitting applies this technique of "a stitch in the row below" to improve binding off in the round (click here, scroll to third method). 

Another, more common use, is to make fancy, lofty stitch patterns similar to brioche stitches. These sorts of "waffle knits" are cushier than ordinary knits: the technique of knitting into the row below draws up the fabric, making it shorter and thicker, as shown in Illustration 4, below.

This particular stitch pattern is called embossed rib by some and fisherman rib by others, and is made by working back and forth (flat knitting) on an uneven number of stitches, as follows:
  • Purl every other row (that is, rows 1, 3, 5 and so on)
  • On the knit side (rows 2, 4, 6 and so on) *knit 1, then knit into the row below, repeating from * all the way across the row, ending with a knit 1.

You have been reading TECHknitting on: "Knit into the row below," also called "knit into the stitch below."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh my goodness! where do you get those lovely photographs taken?

December 10, 2008 at 9:39 PM  
Blogger My said...


thanks for all your information it's great. In France we call this stitch "English ribs"

December 11, 2008 at 12:42 AM  
Blogger Sally said...

Great information, as usual. Looking forward to the post on binding off while knitting circularly as I'm in the midst of doing toe up socks.

December 11, 2008 at 7:18 AM  
Blogger Pamelamama said...

How timely! I just published a pattern using this technique. I'd love to show it to you. If you shoot me an email, I would be happy to send you a copy as a small token of my appreciation of the awesome service you provide to knitters everywhere!

You can reach me at my gmail address, pamelamama, at!

(I'm also pamelamama on ravelry)

December 11, 2008 at 10:41 AM  
Anonymous Robbie Payne said...

Wow! Am I ever impressed! This is the most clear description/illustration I've seen! Thanks so much!!!

December 11, 2008 at 1:56 PM  
Blogger AudKnits said...

I'm so glad to have found your site! I was just trying to figure out what "knit into the stitch below" meant in Neighbor's "Reversible Two Color Knitting". You've saved me hours of anxiety. Thank you!

December 11, 2008 at 3:41 PM  
Blogger AmyP said...

Thanks for this -- I've wondered before if I was doing it correctly. Can't wait for the bind off technique for knitting in the round. I've been doing all sorts of round holiday knitting and I'm not happy with the bind off. I'll stay tuned...

December 11, 2008 at 8:38 PM  
Blogger Marjorie said...

I wish I had your post when I first tried to do this. It seemed so counterintuitive that I couldn't believe I was doing the right thing. You've done a great job showing how to do this.

December 12, 2008 at 9:39 PM  
OpenID kmkat said...

Thank you (again) for your great explanation. I think I have been doing this wrong. No more!

December 13, 2008 at 10:56 PM  
Blogger Harper said...

Thank you! I've avoided certain pattern because knit into the stitch below confused me too much. Now I set forth girded with my new knowledge to conquer new ribs!

December 15, 2008 at 6:08 PM  
Blogger Suzi said...

Your brilliance astounds me and you seem to have a knack for addressing techniques that are pertinet to what I'm doing at the moment.

I LOVE the texture of the brioche/fisherman's stitch but a problem I have is correcting mistakes with this stitch. I'm quite adept at picking out stitches (lots of practice) but this stitch is very difficult to correct. I've about given upon it for this reason. Any suggestions?

December 15, 2008 at 6:15 PM  
Blogger --TECHknitter said...

Hi Suzi: You are right--the fisherman's rib (which is the same thing as the half-brioche stitch, although made differently) is a very bear to rip out and fix. I CAN "fix" it, technically speaking, but the tension always get so bady off--the light and lofty property is distorted by the fix and the fabric becomes thinner and stretched out in the area of the fix. I, too, restrict my use of it for this reason. Sorry I don't have better news....

December 15, 2008 at 6:28 PM  
Blogger Suzi said...

Good to know it's not just me. I think I'll steer clear of it until I can devote my full attention to it. As always, thanks for all your help and expertise!

December 15, 2008 at 6:49 PM  
Blogger Abby said...

I was just looking for a different way to make increases for a raglan top-down sweater in Barbara Walker's "Knitting from the Top" and the one I chose (based on how it looks)was a double increase that calls for knitting into the stitch below then I remembered you'd just addressed knitting into the stitch below. Cool. You do a great job of explaining and drawing. Thank you!

December 15, 2008 at 11:53 PM  
Blogger Karen Holly said...

Thank you so much for posting this! I just started a hat that calls for waffle stitch, and was going crazy trying to figure it out, and the existing pictures/instructions on the web weren't really helping. Way to go diagrams!

December 16, 2008 at 2:54 PM  
OpenID sassysean said...

Wow, what a great explanation and illustration. Thank you so much. As usual yours is the best.

I'm glad you're back. You were missed!!!!

December 19, 2008 at 8:24 AM  
Blogger Rhonda said...

There is actually a whole book of patterns using this stitch, which adds a new dimension to variegated and hand-dyed yarns. I haven't tried it yet, but the author says that the fabric won't curl like stockingette, which gives a few more options with design, as well.

I have to also take this chance to welcome you back -- I always enjoy your clear explanations and diagrams.

December 22, 2008 at 8:46 AM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

thanks so much for your perfectly clear explanation. i found a pattern (bounce hat) that uses this stitch but for the life of me couldn't get it right and finally gave up - now i'll go back and try it again. many many thanks for adding to my knitting repertoire!

January 3, 2009 at 5:18 PM  
Anonymous technikat said...

Your explanation was excellent, better than what was provided in the book dedicated to the K1 below stitch. I just started to try to knit from that book and it took me a couple of tries to figure out exactly where I should be poking the needle. Thanks.

January 17, 2009 at 3:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen to what everyone else was saying. Your ability to explain clearly seems to be a very rare talent. You are the best!

January 21, 2009 at 10:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have the very best way of describing knitting instructions. Bought a new pattern calling for
knit one below--wondered how I was
going to figure it out! Now I will
have to become a follower of your site ! St. Charles, Il

June 8, 2009 at 3:48 PM  
Blogger ~Jenn said...

I love your diagrams. I've always thought what was missing from those was different colors. Good job! Now, even though the fabric isn't as perfect when it is fixed, we'd like a tutorial on doing it, anyways. You up for it?

June 10, 2009 at 7:31 AM  
Blogger psy-harlot said...

Thanks for the best explanation of this technique that I've found. I searched Ravelry and when I saw a post with your user name I clicked right away. You have a real gift for instruction. Thanks again.

July 20, 2009 at 6:20 PM  
Blogger Marie said...

I found the'Last Hurrah Scarf' pattern on Ravelry and had no idea what this technique was. Fantastic pictures for us visual knitters out here! Thank you!

October 9, 2009 at 1:42 PM  
Blogger nosenabook said...

I had swatched and swatched until I got gauge, and started knitting the Rainbow Warrior hat from "Going Straight", by Woolly Wormhead.
THEN I realized I had no idea how to make this stitch! Thanks for the great tutorial.

November 3, 2009 at 2:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you thank you thank you! NOW I understand brioche stitches, your blog is amazing. Keep up the good work!

November 19, 2009 at 3:29 PM  
Anonymous knitncookn said...

Thank you so much! I'm a new knitter and have just learned this stitch thanks to you. I could not figure it out elsewhere. Clear explanation along with great illustrations.

November 27, 2009 at 11:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank-you so much! I had my heart set on knitting a jummper from an old vogu pattern. The jumper is straight forward but the cowl neck requires knitting with two strands of wool and into the stitch below which had me completely foxed! This explanation is the clearest guidance I have ever found on any technique. your website is now added to 'my favourites'!

December 13, 2009 at 6:12 AM  
Blogger alexis said...

Thank you so much!!! Knitting the Barbara Walker afghan and found the instructions on the "Rose Stitch" tough to decipher -- your illustrations were just what I needed!

March 4, 2010 at 8:24 PM  
OpenID sassysean said...

As usual your tutorial is fantastic!!Thanks so much!! I can't wait for your book. I want a signed copy!!
SassySean on Ravelry

May 16, 2010 at 8:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bless you. I have been trying to find a clear explanation of this stitch. You make it clear and easy. Now, I've got a baby blanket pattern I've been putting off--thanks to you I can start it. Thank you.

August 16, 2010 at 10:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you thank you for explaining this stitch was going to give up!
regards pat

December 13, 2010 at 4:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am a beginner knitter and had no idea how to do this stitch from the pattern, your diagram explained it all so thanks soooooooooo much!

February 22, 2011 at 2:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is awesome! I am following a pattern that features a "K up 1" stitch on the first row. Do you know if this could be the same as your explanation here?
Thanks for an awesome site!

March 9, 2011 at 4:14 PM  
Blogger lilheart17 said...

Thank you for posting this! It's so much easier to understand than the videos.

May 18, 2011 at 7:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks so much. I think this is the "reinforced double stitch" referred to in the diagonal reinforced heel in the Sock Knitter's Workshop.

June 14, 2011 at 6:43 PM  
Blogger xyz said...

Thank you (tears in eyes) thankyou! If you get the chance, could you tell me how to do it with two colours? I am trying to knit a Brioche knit jumper that begins with a provisional cast on, though perhaps an Italian cast on would work.

In undying gratitude,


September 26, 2011 at 11:38 AM  
Blogger TECHknitter said...

Hi xyz--glad the tutorial helped! Not quite sure what you mean "in two colors?" Do you mean that the fabric is knit in two colors? If so, do you mean vertically or horizontally? You can either write to me via e-mail (address at "profile" or ask your question on Ravelry on the "techniques" forum, where you will surely get an answer from someone. Best, TK

September 26, 2011 at 12:33 PM  
Anonymous Kathy said...

fabulous diagrams and explanation. Thank you!

October 1, 2011 at 5:45 PM  
Blogger trial said...

Thanks for the clear description! It was exactly what I was looking for.

November 20, 2011 at 10:59 PM  
Anonymous Nancy T said...

Fantastic explanation! Many thanks.

January 29, 2012 at 12:28 PM  
Blogger Beth Lea said...

Hey Brains,
What a totally cool blog! - where have you been all my life?
On the subject of invisible increases AND knitting into the row below. I see your instructions indicate row below as only decorative. Did you know you can make it an increase too that way by also knitting the stitch above it. Altering left or right leaning, by going into the back for left and standard for right.
Also, how did you compile that amazing chronological index for your blog?
All the best

April 26, 2012 at 3:48 AM  
Blogger dan said...

You saved my sweater. I was actually doing something that "dropped" the blue stitch as I had purls underneath and was very confused. Thanks!

May 13, 2012 at 9:12 AM  
Blogger Aylin Brandt said...

Thank you SO MUCH!!!

December 27, 2012 at 11:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks mate- you are brilliant!

May 1, 2013 at 1:15 AM  
Anonymous Ann Cude said...

My pattern stitch specifies:
Row 1: Knit
Row 2: Purl
Row 3: K1, p1, etc.
Row 4: P1, k1, p1, k1B

This puts the K1B on the purl side of the fabric, right? And I don't see how it works on that side. Am I understanding this wrong?
You're the best, TECHknitter. Thanks for any advice. Ann

October 5, 2014 at 2:23 PM  
Blogger TECHknitter said...

Dear Ann: I have knit a sample of the directed fabric--two repeats wide, three repeats long (plus two edge stitches) so, a 10-stitch wide scrap. It makes a highly textured fabric. Below are links to front and back photos of the fabric (cut and paste the address into your browser window to view photos).



It is a mite peculiar to K1 below from the purl side, but not difficult, you switch the yarn into knitting position, insert the active needle into the "root stitch," of the next stitch on the left needle (the root stitch is the one below the one on the needle) and knit into the root stitch, the tug the root stitch, which slips the stitch above off the L needle.

If you continue to have issues with these instructions, could you write me directly via e-mail (address in profile)? That way, you could send a photo and we could correspond more directly. Another option would be to post to the techniques forum on Ravelry. On Ravelry, you will get several answers in short order, and possibly connect with some one who has made your exact pattern.

Thanks for writing, TK

October 6, 2014 at 8:56 AM  
Anonymous joyce said...

Thanks so much for this. LIke always, the best explanation anywhere! I am struggling with the Olivia pattern:

In this pattern you do alternate rows of k1b, k all the way across (an odd number os stitches) with a slipped stitch at the start of each row. Your directions have gotten me most of the way, but the last stitch on every other row for me is awkward. I end up with the loop from the stitch that was on the needle just sort of hanging there like a weird little loop -- I guess there is no next stitch for it to run down to?

Everyone else in the knitting world has apparently knit this pattern with ease, but I'm completely perplexed. Thanks for any help you can offer.

November 28, 2014 at 1:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi joyce, it says to always knit the last stitch, or the last 2 stitches on row 2, so either you've got an even number of stitches cast on or you've misread the row's last stitch I think. You've probably finished by now though :)

May 29, 2015 at 7:43 AM  
Blogger Hawaiian G'ma said...

Your clear illustrations and comments are still us novices. Thanks so much!

October 27, 2015 at 5:14 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home