Picking Up Stitches

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When you pick up stitches, you are adding knit stitches to an existing work in order to expand the work.

Why would you pick up stitches?  A few good reasons:

  • To lengthen or add embellishment to a knitted piece that has been completed
  • To add sleeves at an armhole
  • To add a neckband
  • To add a button hole
  • To add edging or knitting to non-knitted items
  • To work in a "mosaic knitting" technique

One thing you should consider when picking up stitches - especially when following pattern instructions.  There is a difference between the instructions "Pick up stitches" and "Pick up and knit stitches".

  • Picking up Stitches:  Place existing loops onto your needle.  You will treat them as knit stitches and follow knitting instructions to work them in a following row.  These loops can be existing knitting stitches, crochet stitches, hairpin lace loops - any loop that can fit on your knitting needle.
  • Picking up and Knitting Stitches:  Bring a loop of yarn through a hole as if to knit and place it on your needle so that you can knit or purl it later.  This hole can be an existing stitch somewhere within your knitted work, at the bound-off edge of your work or along the side of your knitted work.  You are not limited to picking up stitches in knitting:  If you can pass a loop through it, you can pick up a stitch in it.

To pick up and knit stitches along cast on / bind off edge of work:

Pick Up and Knit Along Cast on/Bind off, Step 1

Step 1:  Examine the structure of the fabric.  By picking up stitches, you will be extending the structure of the stitches that are already there.  This means, you are looking for the V's to identify adjacent stitches, since when you create a stitch, the bottom of the stitch is "V" in shape with the top being round.

Pick Up and Knit Along Cast on/Bind off, Step 2

Step 2:  Stitches are typically picked up from the RS (Right Side) of the work.  Hold your yarn to the back of the knitted fabric, insert your needle through the opening of the "V" of the stitch in the row just below the bound-off or cast on edge, wrap your yarn around the needle as if to knit and pull a loop through onto your needle.

Pick Up and Knit Along Cast on/Bind off, Step 3

Appearance of a completed row of picked up stitches along the cast on/bound off edge of knitted work.

 

To pick up and knit stitches along side of knitted work...

Note:  When picking up stitches along the side of knitted work, you must keep in mind that the row gauge and the stitch gauge are different:  A stitch is typically wider than it is high.  Because of this, you will typically not pick up a stitch in each row:  You will skip a row every so often.  Unless your pattern specifies a gauge for you to use when picking up stitches along the side, pick up stitches in 3 out of every 4 rows.

Pick Up and Knit Along Side of Knitted Work, Step 1

Step 1: With RS of the work facing, insert the needle between 2 purl bars, one stitch from the edge.  If working along a straight edge, take care to pick up stitches in the same line of stitches in order to keep a neat appearance.

If picking up stitches along an edge with decreases, such as a V-neck, take care to consistently pick up stitches one stitch from the edge to hide the jagged shaped edge.

Pick Up and Knit Along Side of Knitted Work, Step 2

Appearance of a completed row of picked up stitches along the side of knitted work.

To pick up and knit  stitches in hairpin lace:

Pick Up and Knit in Hairpin Lace, Step 1

Step 1:  With the RS of the hairpin lace work facing (strips do not have a RS or WS, but once joined, the RS will be specified), insert your needle in an untwisted loop.  Hold yarn to back of work.

Wrap yarn around needle as if to knit and pull up a loop.

Pick Up and Knit in Hairpin Lace, Step 2

Step 3:  Appearance of a completed row of picked up stitches in hairpin lace work.

To pick up stitches along a row of knitted work:

Pick Up and Knit Along a Row of Knitted Work, Step 1

Step 1:  Examine the structure of the fabric.  Identify adjacent stitches by searching for the "V", and then identify the front of the stitch which lies to the right of the "V". 

Pick Up and Knit Along a Row of Knitted Work, Step 2

Step 2:  Moving your needle from right to left, slip the front of the stitch on to your needle.