As you work on shaping a project, a pattern may ask you to increase or decrease a specific number of stitches evenly across a row or round. But it won't tell you how often to do this...just to do it evenly.
You don't want the increases or decrease bunched up together at one point because it would make your piece lopsided. To avoid this, you want them spaced as evenly as possible across the row or round.
So you'll need to do some simple math in order to determine how often to increase or decrease so they are spread out evenly. First, you should know the number of stitches you currently have. Then the pattern will indicate how many stitches you need to increase or decrease.
If you're knitting in the round, divide the number of stitches you have at present by the number of increases you are to complete. Let's say you have 100 stitches and the pattern calls for 10 increases. Dividing 100 by 10 equals 10, so you would increase once every 10th stitch.
If you're knitting in rows, you'll need to add one to the number of stitches you are to increase. Otherwise, in the above example of 100 stitches and 10 increases, the first increase would occur on the 10th stitch and the last increase would occur on the 100th stitch (10, 20, 30, 40, etc.).
Suppose you have 110 stitches and you're to increase 10 stitches. Adding 1 to 10 equals 11. Dividing 110 by 11 equals 10, so you would increase one stitch every 10th stitch.
Whether knitting in the round or back and forth, the numbers don't always work out exactly even, and you will get a fraction instead.
Working in rows, if you have 100 stitches and need to increase 10 (plus add one stitch remember!), divide 100 by 11 and the answer is 9.09. Obviously, you cannot increase every 9.09 stitches. In this case, you would increase 1 stitch every 9 stitch 9 times and 1 stitch every 10th stitch 1 time.
Work the last 9 stitches after the last increase=9
Knitting in the round, let's look at increasing 11 stitches on a row where you had 100 stitches to begin. Again, that is one stitch every 9.09 stitches. Here, you'd have to cheat again, but you would increase 1 stitch every 9th stitch 10 times and 1 stitch every 10th stitch 1 time.
9 x 10 = 90
1 x 10 = 10
Total = 100
When decreasing, remember that you are using two stitches every time you decrease. So, although the math above remains true for decreasing, the frequency you arrive at is true prior to the decreases.
For example, as we saw earlier, knitting in rows if you have 100 stitches and you are to decrease 10 you add 1 to 10, equaling 11. Dividing 110 by 11 equals 10 so you would decrease one stitch every 10th stitch. This means the decrease is worked over stitches 10 and 11, the next decrease is worked over stitches 20 and 21, then 30 and 31, etc.
See our Learn to Knit guide for videos, illustrations, and instructions on different increasing and decreasing techniques. Join Barbara again next month for more tips for knitters and crocheters.