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How to Pick Up Dropped Stitches, Even from the Cast On Edge

I first knew that I could knit anything when I learned that I could fix anything.

My fear of making mistakes, trying a new project and getting stuck, and ruining hours of knitting went away.

The first step towards knitting confidence, then, seems to be learning how to fix mistakes in knitting. Here’s how to fix a dropped stitch.

If you don’t currently have a crochet hook in your knitting kit, it’s time to put one in there. (And if you don’t have a knitting kit, it’s time to put one together. Make it small and portable. I throw mine in my knitting bag every time I leave the house… or even change rooms.)

To pick up a dropped stitch, insert your crochet hook into the loop on the knit side. If just one stitch dropped, then just put it back onto your left-hand needle with its right side in front.

If a column of stitches dropped, it will look like a little loop (the dropped stitch) with a ladder of any number of horizontal lines of dropped stitches above it. Put the crochet hook into the loop to catch it. Then, lay your knitting on a flat surface (a table, your knee, a book) and smooth out the ladder of dropped, horizontal stitches. You want to make sure they’re not all jumbled together so you can see that they’re in the right order. If in doubt, check their sides, where they’re still connected to the columns of stitches beside them. Smooth them into their proper order in the ladder as best you can.

To pick up a dropped knit stitch

Now, with your crochet hook, reach through the front of the last proper stitch and grab the first (nearest, bottom) strand in the ladder. Pull it through the stitch. One stitch has been remade! Keep on reaching through and pulling each consecutive strand through each loop. When you get to the top, put the last stitch back on the left needle, ready for knitting. (Or purling, as the case may be.)

To pick up a dropped purl stitch, I find it easiest to turn the work so I’m looking at the other side, where it’s a knit stitch. Then just pick it up as you would a knit stitch: insert the crochet hook into the stitch from the front, grab the nearest running stitch in the ladder, and pull it through the stitch. But put the remade stitch onto the right-hand needle… because when you turn your work back around to the proper side, that will be the left-hand needle, and the stitch will be ready to be worked.

To pick up a dropped column in garter stitch, you may want to keep flipping the knitting over so you can pick each stitch up as a knit stitch. Remember, knit stitches look like V’s and purl stitches look like bumps or frown lines. You’ll be picking up a knit stitch over a purl bump, then flipping the work to the other side and picking up another knit stitch over a purl bump. Back and forth, until you’ve reached the top. Be extra careful picking up garter stitch because the strands in the dropped ladder like to fool you into picking them up in the wrong order.

Now, what if you’ve dropped stitches all the way down to the cast-on edge? And all you have is a ladder of straight running stitches and no loop with which to start? Well, you’re going to create that loop. That’s all a cast on is, after all, in its most basic form: a series of loops that have had stitches pulled through them.

So, to pick up a dropped cast on edge, lay your work down and spread out the dropped stitches so you can smooth the ladders and get them in order. Find the very bottom strand in the ladder. This is the strand you’re going to twist into a loop. Look at your cast on edge around it, the edge that hasn’t been messed up. If you used a long-tail cast on or variation of it, it will look like little lines slanting slightly up and to the right. If it looks like purl bumps in front of lines, you’re looking at the back side and you need to flip your knitting over so the other side is facing you.

With the cast-on edge of your work pointed towards you:

Insert your crochet hook perpendicular to your body and the cast-on edge, with the hook pointing towards you, between the first and second strands in the ladder, towards the first strand. Grab the first strand under the hook, then rotate the hook counterclockwise until the hook is pointing away from you. This will have created a twist in the strand. You now have a loop! Keep it on the crochet hook, and now you can grab the next strand in the ladder of dropped stitches and pull it through the loop you created. Continue up the ladder as you would for normal dropped stitches until you’ve gotten them all.

I know that’s a mouthful of words to describe a really simple maneuver, so here’s a quick video of questionable quality, taken by my oldest, to illustrate:

What do you think? Does this help you pick up dropped stitches? Let me know in the comments.

31 Days to Your Nicest Knitting series. #write31days #knittingtips

This post is part of my 31 Days to Your Nicest Knitting series. Every day, I’ll post a new tip or trick to make your knitting nicer. You can follow along easily by subscribing. If you have any knitting problems you’d like me to fix, let me know and I’ll try to answer your question as part of the series. You can find all the posts in the series here.