How To Pick Up A Dropped Knit Stitch

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This blog post will teach you how to pick up a dropped knit stitch.

Dropping a stitch is one of the most common knitting mistakes any maker, especially a beginner, can make. 

Whether you are using simple knit stitches or complicated stitch patterns, a dropped stitch can happen to anyone.

Learn everything about the most common mistakes like dropped stitches and accidental yarn overs and how to save your knitting project here.

How to pick up a dropped knit stitch

What Is A Dropped Stitch In Knitting?

A dropped stitch in knitting refers to a stitch that has accidentally slipped off the knitting needle, unraveling the row below it.

When a stitch drops, it creates a noticeable vertical ladder or gap in the fabric.

Dropped stitches should be fixed promptly to prevent further unraveling and maintain the integrity of the knitted fabric. 

It’s important to address dropped stitches as soon as possible to prevent additional complications.

If not fixed, the dropped loop or bar can lead to larger holes, uneven tension, and an overall untidy appearance in the knitted work. 

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A marker placed in a dropped stitch

Why Do Stitches Drop?

There are several reasons why a stitch may be dropped in knitting:

  • You might become distracted or lose focus while working on a new stitch.
  • This can happen even to the most experienced knitters.
  • When working with multiple knitting needles, it’s possible to catch the tip of the needle on a stitch and inadvertently slide it off the needle, resulting in a dropped stitch. 
  • Make sure that the stitches are securely on the needle before moving on to the next stitch.
  • Uneven tension or pulling the yarn too tightly can cause stitches to slip off the needle, leading to dropped stitches. 
  • In lace or openwork patterns, intentionally creating yarn overs can sometimes lead to accidentally dropped stitches if the yarn over is not properly secured.
  • A fine or slippery yarn can be more challenging to handle and may result in dropped stitches.
Dropped stitch in knitting

How To Pick Up A Dropped Stitch In Knitting?    

Ok, you dropped a stitch! 

Don’t panic; take deep breaths, and with a little patience, we will fix this error. 

Knowing how to pick up a dropped stitch is an important skill for any knitter and will save you hours of work.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you correct a dropped stitch:

  1. As soon as you notice a dropped stitch, stop knitting and assess the situation. Take a moment to identify the exact location of the runaway stitch and the row below it.
  2. To prevent the stitch from unraveling further, insert a stitch marker or safety pin directly below the dropped stitch. This will act as a temporary anchor to keep the stitch in place.
  3. Examine the “ladder” of loose yarn that extends vertically from the dropped stitch. If the ladder appears twisted, gently untwist it by carefully pulling the sides apart. This helps prepare the ladder for the stitch recovery process.
  4. Insert a crochet hook or knitting needle from front to back through the lowest part of the dropped stitch. Ensure that the hook or needle catches the ladder strands.
  5. Use the crochet hook or knitting needle to lift the ladder of yarn up through the dropped stitch, essentially bringing the ladder back to the level of the other stitches.
  6. Slip the recovered stitch from the crochet hook or knitting needle back onto the left-hand knitting needle, ensuring it is correctly oriented.
  7. Gently adjust the tension of the recovered stitch so that it matches the surrounding stitches. Avoid pulling it too tightly or leaving it too loose.
  8. With the dropped stitch recovered and back on the needle, continue knitting as usual.
fixing a dropped stitch in knitting

How Do You Pick Up A Dropped Knit Stitch Several Rows Back?

Picking up a dropped knit stitch several rows back can be a bit more challenging, but fixing it is still possible. 

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you pick up a dropped knit stitch several rows back:

  1. Take a close look at your knitting to determine the exact location of the dropped stitch and how many rows it has unraveled. Count the number of rows down from your current row to the row where the stitch dropped.
  2. Before attempting to fix the dropped stitch, consider inserting a lifeline. A lifeline is a contrasting thread or yarn that you can thread through the stitches of a specific row, creating a temporary safety line. If you make a mistake during the repair process, the lifeline allows you to easily return to that row without further unraveling.
  3. Locate the dropped stitch and the corresponding “ladder” of yarn that extends down from it. These ladders are the loose strands of yarn between the rows.
  4. Starting from the bottom of the ladders, insert a crochet hook or a small knitting needle through each ladder strand, one by one, moving upward. Ensure that each ladder strand is captured by the hook or needle, effectively preventing further unraveling.
  5. Once you have secured all the ladders, place the stitch onto the left-hand needle. Insert the right-hand needle into the stitch from the front (as you would for a knit stitch) and slip it onto the left-hand needle. The stitch is now securely back on the needle.
  6. Gently tighten the stitch to match the tension of the surrounding stitches. You can use your fingers or the knitting needle to adjust the tension as needed.
  7. With the dropped stitch fixed, continue knitting from the current row as instructed by your pattern.
dropped stitch in knitting close up

How To Fix A Dropped Stitch In Knitting After Binding Off?    

Fixing a dropped stitch after binding off can be a bit more challenging, as the edges of the work are no longer live stitches. 

However, you can still correct the dropped stitch with some patience and careful maneuvering. 

Here’s a guide to help you fix a dropped stitch after binding off:

  1. Examine the dropped stitch and determine how many rows it has unraveled. Identify the ladder of loose yarn created by the dropped stitch.
  2. Cut a spare strand of yarn that is longer than the height of the dropped stitch. This yarn strand will be used to secure the dropped stitch.
  3. Insert a tapestry needle or crochet hook through the loop of the dropped stitch from the back to the front. Ensure that the needle or hook catches the ladder strands.
  4. Use the needle or hook to capture each ladder strand, moving from the bottom of the ladder to the top. Slide them onto the spare length of yarn, one by one, until all the ladder strands are secured.
  5. Gently adjust the tension of the secured ladder strands so that they match the tension of the surrounding stitches. Avoid pulling them too tightly or leaving them too loose.
  6. Tie a secure knot or make a few stitches with the spare length of yarn to secure the ladder strands in place. Make sure the knot or stitches are tight but not overly tight to maintain an even appearance.
  7. Use a tapestry needle to weave in the loose ends of the spare length of yarn, securing them within the fabric to avoid any visible knots or loose threads.
  8. Carefully trim any excess yarn, ensuring that the cut end is tucked securely within the fabric.
crochet hook fixing a dropped stitch

Do You Use A Different Technique To Pick Up Purl Stitches? 

Yes, picking up dropped garter stitches and dropped purl stitches require different techniques. 

Here’s how you would pick up each type of dropped stitch:

Dropped Garter Stitch:

  1. Locate the dropped stitch in the garter stitch fabric. It will look like a horizontal bar.
  2. Using a crochet hook or knitting needle, insert it from front to back under the horizontal bar of the dropped stitch. 
  3. Lift the horizontal bar up and onto the needle, treating it as a regular stitch.
  4. With the dropped stitch secured on the needle, continue knitting in the garter stitch pattern, ensuring the tension matches the surrounding stitches.

Dropped Purl Stitch:

  1. Locate the dropped stitch in the purl stitch fabric. It will appear as a loose loop or gap in the fabric.
  2. Using a crochet hook or knitting needle, insert it from back to front through the loop directly below the dropped stitch.
  3. Lift the loop onto the needle, treating it as a regular stitch.
  4. Gently adjust the tension of the recovered stitch to match the surrounding purl stitches.
  5. With the dropped stitch secured on the needle, continue purling in the established pattern.
  6. It’s important to note that garter stitch and purl stitch fabric have different structures, resulting in different techniques for picking up dropped stitches. 
back view of dropped stitch

The Drop Stitch Look

If you like the fabric and look that the dropped stitches create. 

​Then you are going to love the drop stitch, where while knitting you can drop stitches the correct way.

The dropped stitch will create a vertical line or ladder in your knitting, which can add a unique and open texture to your fabric. 

Remember that the knit drop stitch is intentionally created and not an accidental mistake.

It’s commonly used in lace or openwork designs to create visual interest and variation in the fabric.

Related Post: Drop Stitch Knit Top Pattern

woman wearing a drop stitch knit top

Mistakes Happen In Any Craft 

It doesn’t matter if you are a new knitter or a seasoned one a knitting mistake is bound to happen; it’s part of the knitting journey. 

You might be able to save it, but you also might now, and you will have to tink (unknit) several stitches or even frog your entire project.

And it’s ok!

Just be patient don’t get too frustrated with yourself, be mindful of your tension to create more even stitches, count every few rows to make sure you have the correct number of stitches and you haven’t added a few extra stitches.

Knitting Lessons

If you are looking for more informative blog posts and video tutorials, check out the knitting lessons hereKnitting Lessons.

There you will find tutorials on how to knit the knit stitch (view – how to knit garter stitch), how to knit the purl stitch (view – how to knit the purl stitch (for beginners + a video tutorial)), how to knit the stockinette stitch (view – how to knit stockinette stitch (for beginners)), how to knit the rib stitch (how to knit rib stitch patterns (1×1 and 2×2 ribbing)), the seed stitch (how to knit seed stitch for beginners), and many, many more stitch patterns.  

Happy Knitting!

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