How to Pick Up Stitches On the Edge

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Posted: Thursday, March 19, 2009
Last Updated: Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Our very own Jeanne stars in this knitting instructional video about how to pick up stitches along the edge of your project. We hope you enjoy it!

How to Pick Up Stitches On the Edge

In this video, Jeanne explains how to pick up stitches along the selvedge edge of a stockinette piece. This technique is used in many knitted garments from sock gussets, neck trim, buttonbands, collars and hoods to sleeves. Basically anytime you want to create stitches that run perpendicular to the main body of your stitches like in a sock gusset or when you need the structure of the pick up row for strenth like in a neck or button band.

Jeanne likes to use a double point needle that is about 2 sizes smaller than the original needle used in the piece. Using a smaller needle makes it easier to get into the selvedge to pick up the stitches.

In some patterns you will see the instruction to 'pickup stitches' and others to 'pick up and knit'. Both instructions mean the same thing, pick up and knit. You never want to just run your needle through the selvedge edge and consider those stitches picked up. The row will be very tight and distort the fabric. And in addition you won't be able to tell if your stitches will look evenly spaced.

To Pick up and Knit

  1. Begin with your work facing you and after you've just knit a right side row. Turn your work 90 degrees to the right. This will make the pick up ridge on the purl side of the work. (If you want the pick up ridge to be on the knit side of the work like for a folded over collar you will turn after you've finished knitting a wrong side row.)

  2. Look for the V shape of the knit stitch at the very edge of the fabric, 1 row below the row you just worked. You may have to unroll the edge to find it since it is stockinette and does roll.

  3. Using the smaller double point needle, slip the tip into this edge stitch, catching BOTH legs of the V formed by the stitch, from front to back. The biggest mistake people make here is trying to pick up only one leg of the V rather than the whole stitch. When you only catch one leg of the V it creates holes along the pickup line and it isn't as firm or durable.

  4. Wrap your working yarn around your needle just like you do in a knit stitch and knit. *see tips

  5. Continue picking up at the spacing specified in your pattern and knitting stitches onto the smaller needle. Be sure to switch back to the larger needle you need to get gauge when you return to regular knitting.


  • If you know you'll be picking up stitches later, it sometimes helps to slip the first or last stitch of every other row while you're knitting so the selvage edge is a bit looser, making it easier to pick the stitches up later.

  • *If you have difficulty completing the knit stitch you can hold the pick up needle in your left hand and another needle in your right hand and place the tip into the same stitch and work exactly like you're knitting a row. Alternatively you could use a crochet hook to pull the stitch through and then place it on a needle.

  • Picking up stitches works the same in both Continental and English style knitting.

Now you know how to pick up and knit!

Posted by Laura of Jimmy Beans Wool

We hope you enjoy this article! This article and the associated photos are only for personal non-commercial use and are not for resale. All rights reserved. Permission granted by Jimmy Beans Wool and to copy and share this article for non-commercial personal use. Users do not have permission to display on any retail or wholesale website other than and without express permission from Jimmy Beans Wool.
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