How to Pick Up Stitches Properly

When we presented Lisa Shroyer’s post on entrelac last month, 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”?

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 buttonband, 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.

There are two steps involved:

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.)

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.

Here are some step-by-step photo tutorials:

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 evenly, and how to pick up stitches from a non-slipped stitch row edge.

— Sandi




Guides To Interesting Stitches: The Harmony Guides

Entrelac has seemed to capture the imagination of a lot of knitters this year. I think one reason is that it is fun to do; another reason is that it is something different, a change from the usual knit-purl “ruts” we tend to knit ourselves into. If you find yourself yearning for something interesting to spice up your knitting, take a look at the Harmony Guides, a series of stitch dictionaries from your friends right here at Interweave Press. There’s an entire book devoted to Lace & Eyelets, another one covering creative variations of the classic Knit & Purl texture stitches, and one on Cables & Arans–and the Cables & Arans book is even on sale! Coming soon, and available for pre-order now is the long-awaited Harmony Guide: Colorwork.



Sandi Wiseheart is the editor of Knitting Daily.

What’s on Sandi’s needles? I cannot tell a lie. There might be the sleeve of a Spring sweater from the new issue that just jumped onto my needles, when I wasn’t looking. All I can say is, I read Vicki Square’s article in the new Spring Knits called “Start as Many New Projects as You Can,” and her last sentence inspired me: “Knit anything and everything you want–and enjoy the scenery!” So I am indulging my knitting habit, and not worrying about whatever the knitting police might have to say about it.


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