Techniques In Depth: How to Pick Up Stitches

March 28, 2018

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60 Comments
  • thank you for this ,this is what I have to do right now and was puzzling over how to do it , somehow or other your tips and tricks always come at the right time for me so thank you and best wishes x

  • This article is a keeper! Also it’s great to receive quality email at 2am when i can’t sleep – thank you

  • This was the most intimidating thing to do when I first started knitting garments (still haven’t tackled steeking!), but each time I do it, it becomes easier…especially after reading really good instructions like these. Now I need to go rip out a rolled collar to reduce the number of stitches picked up so it looks tidier and fits better!

  • Thank you so much! You all are awesome for sharing so much knowledge – makes knitting that much more fun 🙂

  • This is an excellent article! So helpful – my neckband pick up and knits always leave me a bit unhappy. I’ll definitely try to utilize these tips.

  • Excellent article, I’ll be saving this one.

  • As a new knitter, I am having to pick up stitches to do Log Cabining. I am finding it the most “un-fun” part of a very fun process! I am also learning that a very pointy needle makes it much easier to get into those pesky little stitches.

  • Thanks so much for this! I’ve been knitting socks using the pick up then knit method because I’m afraid of not picking up enough stitches for my gusset, but this has convinced me I’ll be happier with the result if I follow the pattern instruction to pick and knit. Here’s to being brave!

  • It’s alwat the neckline pick up that gets me. This is so helpful!

  • Great article and well worth implementing in your knitting!

  • Great article. And such an easy way to get that ratio. Looking forward to more!

  • I woke up this morning thinking about the 130 stitches I needed to pick up to finish the neck of my sweater. Would I be able to do a quality job? Thanks for the clear calm detail and reassurance!

  • As I am about to embark upon picking up and knitting an enormous number of stitches on my version of the Summer Fairy tunic I remain eternally grateful for this oh so thorough post. I’m not a beginner, but sometimes feel like one when slogging through pick up and knits. Merci, merci, merci!

  • I think I should frame this article!! I try hard to avoid patterns where you have to “pick up” stitches. Now, maybe not so much. Thank you.

  • Thank you! Even after knitting for ten plus years it’s still a chore and often a mystery.This is clear and so helpful.

  • Thank You! This post had the perfect timing! I’m about to pick up stitches for a baby sweater. I’ve never really minded picking up stitches except the diagonal part of the neck edge is the most visible and the most tricky. Thanks for the tips and refresher on picking up stitches. I will also keep this article for future reference. It’s a good one to keep!

  • Your article makes me want to dig out my unfinished Alber’s Cowl and get it back on the needles. Thanks. I am sure I will refer to it many times, especially when I tackle the Fingerless Log Cabin Mitts from the recent KAL. I am hoping to make four pairs for my girls weekend next January.

  • Wonderful article! Loved the clear photos and supportive approach.

  • Am I the only one who thought that “pick up and knit” on an edge meant you pick up one stitch with new yarn and then actually knit it before moving on to the next stitch? It sure would have been easier to pick up all the stitches and _then_ knit them!

    • Yes, Margaret, but… you might want to re-read the article. Pick up and knit means what you said, and it stresses the piece less than picking up all the stitches and then knitting them (which, depending on your garment, might actually not be easier). Forewarned is forearmed…

    • Margaret, I believe I get what you are saying here. And no, you are not the only one to ever think that. I used to do it just the way you describe. Maybe this could be our secret handshake. Judy, I believe Margaret is describing a sort of three step process. Pick up and knit, just as described by Kate, but additionally knitting again each stitch just after it is first knitted a la the article. Maybe don’t try this at home, kids.

    • I also encountered “pick up and knit” in a pattern recently, and since I have been picking up and knitting whenever it says to pick up stitches my entire 16 years of knitting, I was very confused about knitting the stitch a second time, and opted for my neater and inadvertently correct method.

  • wow, thanks.

  • Wonderfully helpful! Thank you!

  • Once again, Kate Atherley is the voice of knitting reason. I am bookmarking this article so I can reference it forever!! Thank you!

  • After knitting anything more than three together through the back loop, picking up stitches is my next least favorite (and most stressful) thing to do when knitting – THANK YOU for this! Even the term “pick up and knit” always perplexed me because to me, you’re not exactly knitting when you join with yarn, you’re more making a loop. I get it now. And specifying to not pick up that hole? I needed that because I always go for it, and then end up with a bigger hole. Excellent post, and again, thanks!

    • I cracked up when I first read Kate’s title for that picture: tempting_little_hole.jpg. It’s so validating to know that I’m not the only one who falls for that hole!

  • Thank you for this and all your other how to’s! I knit but self taught and glad to have this and your others to help me more.
    Is there a way of purchasing the video’s. If so pkease send it to my email [email protected]
    Thank you so much

    • Hi Pamela,

      We keep all the videos, and tutorials like this one by Kate, here, waiting for you whenever you need them. The easy way to keep them accessible is to save them in your MDK account. Here’s how to do that, with one click: https://www.masondixonknitting.com/save-later-mdk/

  • Kate does an amazing job explaining this process. I love picking up stitches, but I always for that easy hole and this is an excellent reminder!

  • This is a keeper. Thank you so much!

  • Anyone remember Donovan’s song? You have to pick up every stitch. Well, you don’t have to. Ha! Ha! For some reason, it popped into my head while reading this. Maybe its just me…

  • I really appreciate this info!! I always come up short on my pickups while making socks. I knew about the how-to…..Grandma… But the count made me crazy! My Gran would have loved this site.

  • Clear, concise and so helpful. I look forward to these great newsletters and ideas. Thank you!

  • This article came just when I was considering using the technique on the project I am currently working on and I can now adopt the tips to produce a much tidier work.

  • I am glad to know there is a place (here) I can go to in about a week when I put the button band on a sweater I am about to finish.

  • Wonderfully useful article. Thank you!

  • I’ve always used the “Dirty Little Secret” technique, because after an arduous effort to pick up stitches around an edge, I ALWAYS had the wrong number no matter how careful I was. Until today, I thought of it as cheating; now I know that it’s actually a master knitter technique! Guilt-free knitting!

    • DItto!!

  • Kate:you’ve changed my life! All my picking up problems (and there have been many) solved in one amazing tutorial. Thank you!

  • I kind of enjoy picking up stitches, because I like the chance to change the direction of the knitting, and it usually comes at the end of a large project. Exciting! Great tips in here, I especially like the one about calculating your pick-up rate.

  • I am pretty sure that picking up stitches will continue to be my least favorite thing in knitting but am hopeful that I will do less frogging now (which means less time picking up the same wretched stitches over and over again until I like the way it looks and get exactly the required number of stitches!). Thank you so much for this. The tip on the hole is also appreciated as I am pretty sure I have done this. More than once. Probably every time there is a hole available to dig the needle through. I am a repentant recovering serial hole knitter now.

  • Very encouraging. Thank you!

  • Very clear and concise. Thank you.

  • This is absolutely brilliant! Thank you!

  • Thank you for this. I have always had trouble picking up stitches and this is the year I’m going to learn how to do it properly, so i don’t have garments sitting in wait for button bands. This will help me on my way!

  • THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! I mostly try to avoid patterns with button-band pick-ups, but after this I feel like a Knitting Warrior, ready with needles in hand to tackle all of them.
    You’re a star, Kate. 🙂

  • I wish Kate was my next door neighbor. She makes it all feel possible.

  • This is explained very well! Thank you! A perfect tutorial.

  • I’d like to cast my vote for Kate (not to mention Ann and Kay!) as Living National Treasures.
    Many thanks for your terrific tutorial. Kudos to MDK!

    • AW, this is so nice, Rebecca. As Kate lives in Canada, she can be a Living National Treasure up there, too! I think maybe she could even get knighted or damed at some point. Dame Kate Atherley has a nice ring to it.

      • I read this as “knighted or damned”

  • When I do pick up and knit the stitches are twisted in the wrong direction. When I knit the new stitches I knit into the front leg which creates a twisted stitch but has the advantage of being a tighter stitch. This seems preferable to me for situations like button bands that get a lot of wear. Am I doing something wrong? Is there a way to have the stitch oriented the correct way?

  • I am fairly new to knitting ( knitted many years ago and just retired …so I have more time. )
    Right now my focus is knitting for my very young grand children. Your article on how to pick up stitches was perfect timing.
    Thanks so much and now that I have found you i will follow your site.

  • Super helpful information here. It seems no matter what I do my picked up stitches on my heel flap are gappy. Now I know why! And the ratio thing for how many to pick up…brilliant tidbit. Thank you Kate!

  • Wonderful article! I’m always picking up and then ripping back. This gave me an understanding of the ratio to use on my next project. Many thanks, I’m in agreement this article is a keeper.

  • Such clear instructions! Thank you!

  • Thank you Kate I feel more confident now to finish the baby blanket I’m knitting for my first grand child due in June x

  • When I pick up and knit, I use a crochet hook to do the picking up part. It makes it easy to pick up both loops of a stitch, then I transfer the stitch to my knitting needle.

  • Oh, the timing!!! I was just about to start the front band on my Carbeth Cardigan and remembered reading about picking up stitches! Thank you!!!