When I looked to see if I’d written a Picking Up Stitches blog post, I didn’t find one. My response is a little “where do you start” and “it is no wonder this is so unclear”. But my knitting friend Bonnie asked me about it and although I answered her directly, I think it is something I should address here and then get busy on improving my techniques pages. Let’s first look at where and how you might be picking up stitches. I think this may end up going into more than one post.
- Picking up along an edge for a
- trim, or
- when adding an adjoining piece, or
- to join pieces together,
- Picking up behind other stitches to add a layer
- Picking up marked stitches
- Picking up in a bind off or cast on,
- Picking up stitches from waste yarn; and
- Picking up a dropped stitch.
What Do We Mean by Picking Up Stitches
A knitter seeing this for the first time would probably assume that it meant to pick up an existing stitch and put it on a needle. This is incorrect, but quite logical.
Picking up means to create a new loop or stitch on your needle by wrapping the yarn around the needle inserted into something and bringing the needle and the yarn through to create a new stitch.
To do this: from the RS, poke a needle through to the WS of the knitting, going into a stitch or between stitches, then wrap the yarn around the needle as to knit, and bring the needle and the yarn through to the RS as if creating a knit stitch.
Of course you could also do it from the WS.
Here’s a video:
Picking Up Stitches to Add Trim
Picking up to add trim is probably the most common use of picking up stitches. You have knitted a garment or other item and now you need to add trim to it. Picking up stitches to add trim can be done with smaller needles, a different color, the same yarn. These things will be specific to the pattern. Picking up stitches to add trim can be done into the edge stitch, or between the edge and next stitch.
I am a big fan of between the edge and next stitch rather than into an edge stitch. Picking up into an edge stitch will not cause a stitch to roll to the inside, but it is not very stable. I usually prefer stability over invisibility. I always say where to pick up, and my patterns have an extra row or stitch added for this purpose (a selvedge). Sometimes I will say to pick up into the stitch below the bind off, but that has the stability of the bind off, so it isn’t quite the same as picking up half a stitch.
There is a nice technique page on picking up between the edge and next stitch, with a video, so I’ll not discuss that here.
Why We Don’t Pick Up From The WS
Mostly it is an aesthetic choice. We don’t like that stitch rolling to the outside. Doing it from the RS usually looks cleaner. We also almost always pick up from left to right. If you know how to knit backwards you can do it left to right, which sometimes works better for the situation.