The basic concept of both M1R (make one right-leaning stitch) and M1L (make one left-leaning stitch) involve knitting into the bar between and below two stitches to increase by one stitch. The trouble is I could never freaking remember which one required bringing the working needle through the back of the bar and which through the front. And, since this task came up so frequently, I got super tired of looking up the instructions (yes, thanks, Google, I know I visited that page just last month).

Here, then, are my #knittingmnemonics for M1R and M1L. They work perfectly for me, I hope they’re helpful to you, too.

Note: For these to work, we have to make some assumptions. We must assume that:

  1. You already understand the basic concept outlined at the beginning, that to make one stitch (either left-leaning or right-leaning) you’ll be knitting into the bar below and between two stitches.
  2. You can execute the steps successfully when you’re following a tutorial – the only trouble here is your memory for which is L and which is R.
  3. You don’t need a companion mnemonic for which side of the bar pulled up onto the working needle – front or back of the needle – you need to stitch through. Honestly, my quasi-mnemonic for this is that zod forbid anything be easy, so you always need to knit into the side of the stitch that’s a little harder to do comfortably. (Not exactly a mnemonic, but it works for me. YMMV.)

For me, it’s all about the shape of letters. A right-leaning increase – M1R – means you need to bring your working needle through that lower bar from the back. And it just so happens thatthe letters R and B share a curvy bit. Voila.

(And, for the record, this is the one where you then need to knit through the front of the stitch. It’s tighter against the next stitch on your left-hand needle than the part on the back, making it just that much fiddlier – to me, anyway – and that’s how I know it must be the right option. Because it’s not easy.)

With a left-leaning increase, you need to bring your needle through the lower bar from the front. And, again, the letters L and F share a similar shape (albeit upside down).

(Here, the next step is to knit through the back of the stitch, which – as mentioned above – is something I find just enough trickier to do than knit through the front in this case that I know it’s the correct choice.)

Let me know if these are helpful for you!


  1. I found your directions helpful. My previous increases were all standard and left a horizontal bar at the increased stitch, which is serviceable but more noticeable. I was currently making a sweater and used your increases for my sleeves which I knit simultaneously, and was pleased with result.

    1. Author

      Well, I’m glad these notes were helpful!

  2. This is so great! I’ve been using this mnemonic now as I knit a shawl and it helps so much. Thanks so making and sharing this.

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