Knitting: Picking up stitches
May 11, 2012
Call me crazy but of all the detail work in knitting (most of which I detest) I love picking up stitches. It is a reason that I cannot narrow down but I like it, I enjoy it and I am pretty darn good at it. Picking up stitches is an acquired skill but it is based on the foundation of knitting; it is not like not like learning to knit itself. Learning to pick up stitches is similar to learning to drive in the rain. It is a lot to take in at first but since you already know how to drive you are just pushing your boundaries a little. Learning the nuances of picking up stitches will help you apply this skill to any gauge or any yarn fiber so you can pick up and knit with confidence. Picking up stitches is great for button bands, hem details, or simply adding details you didn't realize you needed originally. I used this instance when I knit my daughter's first hat. It was an undemanding ribbed brim hat that I thought would stay in place well on her (then) 9 mo. old head. And it did until she was 12 mo. old and decided hats weren't for her anymore. With the temperature outside falling, I picked up some stitches on the brim of the hat and added ear flaps with ties to keep the hat on her head. It worked great. You can add length to your socks after binding off, length to sleeves or a scarf or even add a ruffle trim to your favorite cardigan.
First with the WS of your project facing you, begin picking up your stitches by sliding one needle under 2 loops (if you only pick up 1 loop it will pull away from the knitting by accessing the slack from neighboring loops, by picking up 2 loops you anchor your picked up stitches so it won't put too much pressure on one stitch). When picking up stitches from a bound off edge I like to use the 'V' shape the bind off makes and slide my needle under both lines of the 'V'.
Slide your second needle into the same space as your first and make a loop with your yarn and slide it over your right needle and pull it through using your left needle to help the 'V' in place. Slide your left needle under the next 'V' moving to the left. Insert your right needle and wrap your yarn and pull through.
Above is a look from the WS. You can see the white purl bump against the yellow.
Above is a look from the RS. You can see the loops continue from the row above. From the RS, you can't see that the white row was picked up, it looks like a continuation.
Continue until you have enough stitches then turn your work and continue knitting. It is important that your pick up your stitches from the correct direction. Always pick up with the WS facing up (or facing you) because you will be picking up and knitting the first row with means the purl bump will be in the back. If the RS is facing you, then the purl bump with be on the RS and the picked up stitches will be obvious.
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