How to Pick Up Stitches in Knitting Like a Pro

How to pick up stitches in knitting involves two steps.When we presented Lisa Shroyer’s post on entrelac, several hot topics came up in the user email: How do you REALLY pick up stitches properly? Where do you put your needle? How do you get the stitches spaced properly? And what is the difference between “pick up stitches” and “pick up and knit stitches”? Well we are going to show you how to pick up stitches in knitting the simple way!

Apparently, the phrase “pick up and knit” causes confusion for many knitters.

What does “pick up and knit stitches” mean?

Picking up stitches is a way to add new stitches to an already finished bit of knitting—along the sides for a button band, perhaps, or at the neckline for a collar. You can add stitches to any edge: a cast-on edge, a bound-off edge, or the side edges.

How to Pick Up Stitches in Knitting in Two, Simple Steps:

  1. Pick up loops along the edge of the knitted piece, using a spare knitting needle. (This is the “pick up” part.)
  2. Knit new stitches into those newly picked-up loops. (This is the “and knit” part.)

Pick up and knit is a two-step process when adding more stitches to a knitted piece.That’s why many instructions say “pick up and knit”—it is a two-step process. Most knitters do both steps for each single stitch—pick up the loop, then knit a new stitch into it—before moving on to pick-up-and-knit the next stitch. However, there are many skilled knitters who pick up all the loops along the edge at once, placing them on a spare needle. They then switch the spare needle with the new loops to their left hand, and knit all the new stitches onto the loops in a second, separate step. It doesn’t matter which way you do this, as long as you do both steps—pick up, and knit—for each stitch.

Step-by-step photo tutorials on how to pick up stitches in knitting:

Picking up stitches along a slipped stitch edge (such as a sock heel flap)

Picking up stitches along a cast-on or bound-off edge

In future posts, we’ll talk about how to pick up stitches in knitting evenly, and how to pick up stitches from a non-slipped stitch row edge.

—Sandi

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