You can make an increase that creates an eyelet similar to that of the yarn over, but smaller.
Insert the left-hand needle, from front to back, under the strand of yarn that runs between the stitch just worked and the next stitch on the left-hand needle
Knit this stitch through the front loop.
This increase is easy to work and produces a delicate openwork effect
Above is a comparison of eyelets (left) and yarn overs (right).
Increase How Tos:
Sandi Rosner is a knitter who wears many hats: designer, technical editor, writer and teacher. She loves the little details that elevate a knitting project from homemade to handmade. Follow Sandi’s blog at http://www.knittinginwinecountry.blogspot.com.