My1l and My1r

Recently, I released a sock pattern, Pewter Heel Sock, which uses a number of different increases. There’s the usual m1 (‘make one’) increase in both left and right leaning forms, kfb (‘knit front and back’) and pfb (‘purl front and back’). However, I’ve also snuck in a lesser known my1 (‘make yarn-over one’) in there too. A stretchier sibling of the m1, I think definitely deserves some more love…

I first heard of the technique while working at North Light Fibers, on Block Island. I sat in on a class by Patty Leons. That summer changed my life in so many ways that I can’t even count them. But those two hours stand out in terms of improving my knitting technique.

She covered improving your ‘ssk’, afterthough yarn-overs, and managing the transition from ribbing into stocking stitch. Somewhat off hand, she mentioned that you can deconstruct an m1 into a yarn-over and a twisted stitch.

Sure enough, when I tried it I found that it worked. It wasn’t immediately useful, unlike what I’ve started to term ‘afterthought m1’s’ (when you’ve forgotten to do an m1 last round and you pick up the bar two rounds down and slip it in). I thought it was just a m1, but you had to remember to start it the round before. It seemed like more effort for the same effect.

Summer of 2015 on Block Island

It wasn’t until last year when I was knitting my June Pi Shawl that I realised what I had been missing. If all you want is a m1, the my1 really cannot compete. But same as the afterthought m1 is tighter due to fitting in an extra stitch, the my1 is looser. And that extra yarn makes for a stretchier increase.

It’s strange to think of, but most increases aren’t that stretchy. In some form or another, one stitch becomes two stitches pulling the stitch below tighter to accommodate. The yarn over, which adds extra yarn to the fabric without putting other stitches tighter, is therefore a staple of lace knitting where the work is vigorously blocked. However, you get a hole. With the my1, you get the stretch but the increase is more hidden.

I realised that it’s important to me to distinguish between the my1 and the m1 as increases. They’re different techniques, though closely related, with different uses. The m1 is a good all-round increase which is discrete and sturdy. The my1 is stretchy, more noticeable and works well in lace.

So why have I put it in a sock pattern? A standard decrease like the k2tog takes two stitches and turns them into one. So there’s more yarn that usual incorporated into that stitch, making it quite stretchy. An my1 more closely resembles that decrease. So if you’re trying to match your increases and decreases, an my1 is quite a good match for the k2tog.

So that’s a technique you may not have thought too much about before and small taste of my new pattern to boot!

If you’re interested you can find my new pattern here! It will be free until 18:00 GMT on Saturday with code ‘SPONGEBOB’ so I hope you give it a try!

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