Not all knitted pieces are square. Being able to increase (abbreviated inc) or decrease (abbreviated dec) stitches along the edge or within the body of a knitted piece enables you to create knitted pieces with edges that taper and expand. When you increase stitches, you add them to your needle. When you decrease stitches, you get rid of stitches on your needle.
As with everything else in knitting, there are several ways to increase and decrease stitches. Some methods are almost invisible, and others are decorative and meant to be seen. And because increases and decreases are often worked as pairs (picture adding stitches at either end of your needle when you're shaping a sleeve), if one slants to the right on the right side of your work, the other slants to the left on the wrong side.
The following sections outline the ways to work increases into your work. Keep in mind that each method has a different appearance. So how do you know which one to use? If the increase is part of a fabric stitch pattern, the pattern will almost always tell you how to make the increase. Other times, you have to decide for yourself. Having a few techniques up your sleeve gives you the flexibility to decide which increase will look best in your current project.
Various knitting patterns require that you knit a single increase, work a double increase, or distribute several increases along a given row. Try some of the fundamental techniques in this section to get a firm handle on your choices.
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