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If you want to change the width of your knitting you will need to learn how to increase and decrease stitches. This will allow you to make more interesting knitted shapes.

When you increase stitches you are adding an extra stitch (or loop) to your needle. This will increase the length of your row by 1 stitch, thus increasing the width.

When you decrease stitches you are removing a stitch (or loop) from your needle. This will shrink the length of your row by 1 stitch, thus decreasing the width.

I suggest using wooden needles when learning how to knit.

For more knitting lessons check out this guide.

Step 1: Increase Stitches

Increase Stitch: Basically, you are knitting two stitches like normal, but the first time you knit a stitch you do not slip the stitch off the left needle.
  1. Knit a stitch, but don't slip the stitch off your left needle
  2. Instead, bring your right needle through the top stitch on your left needle, and knit another stitch.
  3. Now remove the stitch from the left needle

Step 2: Increase: Yarn Over

Yarn Over: this technique leaves holes in yarn.  It is usually done for decorative stitches.  When you want to leave an eyelet in your yarn use this technique.
  1. Knit a stitch
  2. Wrap yarn once around right needle to make an extra loop on right needle. 
  3. Continue knitting

Step 3: Decrease Stitches

Knit Two Together: everything is the same as making a knit stitch, but instead of passing the needle through the top stitch on the left needle, pass the needle through the top two stitches and knit as if it were one stitch.

Step 4: Decrease: KRPR

KRPR = Knit, Return Pass, Return
  1. Knit one stitch
  2. Return stitch you just knitted back on to the left needle
  3. Take the second stitch on left needle using your right needle and pass it over the top stitch on the left needle and off the needle.
  4. Return top stitch on left needle back to right needle.

Step 5: Left Slanting Decrease

Left Slanting Decrease
  1. Slip two stitches from left needle onto right needle
  2. Pass left needle back through two stitches you just slipped onto the right needle.  Keeping the stitches on the right needle.
  3. Knit a stitch by wrapping the yarn around the tip of the right needle and pulling the right needle through the stitches.
  4. Slip the two stitch off the left needle.  You have now knitted one stitch on to your right needle.
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