Tutorial Tuesday: How to pick up and knit stitches from the side of your knitting

Last week, you learned how to pick up and knit stitches from the top or bottom of your knitting. This week, you’ll learn how to pick up stitches from the side of your knitting – which you’ll use almost every time you add a buttonhole band to a garment.

This tutorial applies to Stockinette stitch, but at the end I’ll talk a little bit about garter stitch.

Step One. As with last week, examine your knitting.

Note that there are little bumps and loops on the side of the knitting. (This is easier to feel than to see, but you should be able to see it in this picture.)

Step Two. Pick up and knit the first stitch.

It doesn’t matter if you start with a loop or a bump. I started with a loop for this example. As with picking up and knitting stitches from the cast on/bound off edge, going through both layers of the stitch (so there are two little loops on your needle) will ensure that you have a hole-free edge.

Just as in step three of last week’s tutorial, you pull the new yarn through like you would any other knit stitch.

Step Three. Pick up and knit the second stitch.

Pretty simple, right? If you picked up a loop the first time, you’ll pick up a bump the second time. This is how the bump looks on the needle.

Step Four. Skip a stitch!

Stockinette stitch is generally 2/3 as tall as it is wide. So chant this little mantra as you pick up side stitches: “Loop, bump, skip – bump, loop, skip – loop, bump, skip – bump, loop, skip . . .”

In the picture, you can see the little groups of two on the needle.

Once you’ve picked up all the stitches, knit back and forth on these stitches as usual.

Remember I told you I’d mention garter stitch? That’s because the proportion of garter stitch is different than Stockinette. Rather than being 2/3 as tall as it is wide, garter stitch is 1/2 as tall as it is wide. That’s why you pick up on every other row with garter stitch – basically you’re picking up one stitch for every ridge.

A couple of notes . . .

Some people slip the first stitch of every row to make it easier to pick up stitches. The great Barbara Walker would prefer you didn’t. Though I’m not sure she explains why, I’m sure it’s because it would mess up the whole concept of pick up two, skip one required to keep the picked-up section in proportion with the rest of the knitting. However, when you’re knitting socks, the first stitch of the heel flap is generally slipped every row. For a good visual of how to pick up stitches from a slipped stitch edge, this Knitty tutorial will help ya out.

In the same tutorial, the author has some rather complicated math for picking up and knitting stitches from the side edge. (Granted, my idea of “complicated” might be a bit different than yours – math isn’t my forte.) Ignore it! Next week, we’ll discuss how to pick up the right number of stitches – no crazy math required.

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One Response to Tutorial Tuesday: How to pick up and knit stitches from the side of your knitting

  1. this is great Tonya – newbies like me are always lookin’ for knowledge! and even though it was a while ago, i am kickin’ myself for missin’ craig’s show.

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