Pick Me Up

Hello again, knitters!

We’ve had such a mild Januaray so far, it’s been easy to forget those warm winter projects waiting to be worn. I know I have a few garments nearly finished that I planned to enjoy during our few chilly months, but it’s been too easy to put them off! This morning, however, a sharper nip in the air motivated me to break out a poncho I’ve been working on for some time…now that I might actually need it!

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Upon resurrecting my project, I found that I was ready to pick up stitches…A LOT of stitches. You know what comes next, don’t you? Counting rows, counting stitches, a two-steps-forward, one-step-back dance with your knitting. Will it pucker or flare? Will I ever end up with the right stitch count? How can I prevent holes? If you’ve ever needed to pick up stitches, you’ve probably asked yourself these questions.

So today we thought we’d share with you all a few tips we’ve learned from picking up stitches over the years. But first, a disclaimer: picking up stitches is NOT an exact science. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this challenge, and there will probably always be a little bit of trial and error involved. But if you adapt the tips we share below from project to project and (as always) practice, practice, practice, you’ll find that picking up stitches doesn’t have to be a pain!

The first and most important question in picking up stitches is where to insert the needle. Essentially there are only two places to pick up a stitch: in the top/bottom of a row of knitting, OR in the edge of a row of knitting. While you may find yourself using any combination of these two to pick up stitches along shaped pieces, the first thing to decide when picking up each stitch is whether you’re picking up in the top/bottom of a row or the edge of a row. This will tell you how to insert your needle.

Picking Up a Stitch in the Top/Bottom of a Row

If you’re picking up stitches along the top or bottom of a row of knitting, you’re probably looking at the cast on or bind off edge. Many knitters’ first thought is to insert the needle under the cast on or bind off, since the nice flat line of V’s there is so easily visible. Don’t be tempted! The resulting stitches will not line up correctly with the previous rows of knitting, resulting in a visible line. This approach is also prone to leaving holes.

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WRONG!

RIGHT!

Instead, look just inside the edge and find the closest row of stitches (remember, they should look like V’s). Insert your needle from front to back into the center of a stitch (splitting the two legs of the V).

The rest is simple and should feel a lot like knitting a normal stitch- just yarn over the hook and pull the new loop through. Viola! You’ve picked up a stitch.

A row of stitches picked up in this way should line up straight with the previous rows of knitting and leave a flat, tidy seam on the back of the work.

Picking Up a Stitch in the Edge of a Row

It’s a common complaint that edge stitches are never as neat the the rest of the stitches in a row of knitting. This is true for almost every knitter, and it creates a little extra work when picking up stitches along the edge of a piece of knitting. It would be tempting simply to insert your needle under any convenient strand of yarn visible on the edge- but again, the results are uneven and prone to holes.

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WRONG!

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RIGHT!

Instead of inserting your needle under a single strand of yarn, try to identify the first column of stitches (the V’s may be rather warped, but they’re still there!) and insert the needle under both legs of the stitch. Then yarn over and pull the new stitch through just like before.

Since stitches tend to be a little taller than they are wide, picking up one stitch in each row will usually create too many stitches, resulting in an edge that flares instead of laying flat. To prevent this, you’ll need to “skip” a row every so often. Exactly when and where you skip a row depends on your individual knitting style, but try skipping every third or fourth row to start.

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Here, I picked up two stitches before skipping a row.

Again, the result should be a straight line of even stitches and a flat seam on the back of the work.

One final word about picking up stitches: your pattern will probably reccommend a specific number of stitches. While this number is a useful guideline, it’s not set in stone! The correct number of stitches to pick up is the number that gets you the neatest results- and depending on your unique knitting, that may mean a few more or a few less than the designer suggests! Always feel free to experiment when picking up stitches- just make sure that if you’re continuing with a stitch pattern, the number of stitches you pick up will accomodate the pattern repeat.

We hope this explanation of picking up stitches will be useful to you! We’d love to see what you do with our tricks- feel free to share stories (and we LOVE photos!) in the comments below or by email.

Have fun!

 

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sandra David
    Jan 18, 2017 @ 12:35:23

    Nice clear photos on these! Good advice. too.

    Like

    Reply

  2. Diane
    Jan 18, 2017 @ 15:13:05

    Will keep this for reference !

    Like

    Reply

  3. Judith Miller
    Jan 19, 2017 @ 15:58:35

    Thank you for Explaining this so nicely! Excellent “re-fresher”!

    Like

    Reply

  4. Lori
    Jan 19, 2017 @ 21:07:42

    Thanks! That was very helpful advice with great pictures. I’ve been doing it wrong all this time and always wound up with far more stitches than recommended. Now I know why. And I didn’t realize it was better to pick up the row below the bind off or cast on. Can’t wait till try this.

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    Reply

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