How To Pick Up Stitches In Knitting


In this blog post, we will look at how to pick up stitches in knitting.

I often get emails from readers who are knitting one of my baby bootie patterns and they want to know how they can pick up and knit stitches for the foot part of the pattern.

This post will show you how to do this, through step-by-step photographs and a video tutorial.

This is an important skill to have that you can apply to many different knitting patterns like garments, sweaters, shawls, blankets, and sock heels.

How to pick up stitches in knitting

How To Pick Up Stitches In Knitting

If you don’t know how to pick up stitches, this tutorial will help you to do that.

In many projects you are often asked to pick up stitches, to add pockets, neckbands, or in one of my patterns the foot section of a baby bootie.

In some patterns, it will say to ‘pick up and knit‘ however many stitches and can be abbreviated to PUK.

The process of picking up stitches is like this;

  • Make sure you read the pattern to see how many stitches you need to pick up.
  • See where you need to pick up the stitches so that you can evenly space them out in the space that you have.
  • Push your needle under both parts of the V of the stitch on the edge of the work.
  • Just make sure that you are picking up stitches straight across the work and don’t pick them up from different rows.
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Picking up stitches

How To Pick Up Stitches Along An Edge

If you are picking up stitches along an edge of knitting, you will be required to pick up stitches from a side edge.

This is known as the selvedge of your knitting.

Once you pick up a stitch along the edge of the work, you will have to knit it, so it looks like a normal stitch.

This can be done by using one needle, or you can pick up the stitch with one needle and knit into it with the other.

In the photographs and in the video tutorial, you will see how to do this using one needle with easy baby booties. – How To Knit Baby Booties (Step By Step)

baby booties knit on two needles

Supplies used for this tutorial

  • 4 mm/US 6 Knitting needles
  • Cotton yarn (DK or light worsted will do)


  • RS – right side
  • RH – Right hand

Time needed: 1 day, 2 hours and 30 minutes

How To Pick Up Stitches

  1. Step 1

    With the RS (right side) facing, insert your RH needle (right needle) into one of the edge stitches of your work, under both strands from front to to pick up stitches

  2. Step 2

    Wrap the yarn around the top of the needle and pull the yarn through to the RS.picking up stitches in knitting

  3. Step 3

    Pull the yarn through towards you, so that you have a stitch on your needle.wrap the new yarn around the needle

  4. Step 4

    Repeat this step, knitting into every stitch as your pattern directs and you have picked up the correct number of stitches that you need.knitting tutorials

  5. Step 5

    If you are making the baby booties, you pick up a number of stitches along the side (for example – 7 stitches) then knit across the top section of stitches, next, picking up and knit a further 7 stitches and finally knit across the remaining bootie pattern tutorial

  6. Step 6

    Then when you have all of the stitches on your needle – you will be ready to continue knitting the foot section of the baby bootie tutorial

Video Tutorial

There is a video tutorial to help you.

You can view this on my YouTube channel here.

A Few Tips For Picking Up Stitches

I hope that this post has helped you to learn how to pick up stitches and here are a few things to remember when you are picking up any stitches;

  • Evenly-spaced stitches will give you a smoother edge. Count the stitches and compare them to how many you need to pick up from the pattern instructions. This will allow you to see how you will space them out.
  • If you space them unevenly or they don’t look right in any way, just pull them out and start again.
  • If you have a large project like a blanket or shawl, you will need to use a long circular needle to accommodate all of the stitches.
  • Picking up stitches in your knitting to create a border or shape is different than picking up a dropped stitch in your knitting. This requires a different technique, where you can fix a dropped stitch by using a crochet hook.
  • It’s a good general rule to go down a needle size when you ate picking up stitches so you don’t damage the existing stitches.
  • Having some removable stitch markers handy can be a good idea so when you count out where you will pick up a stitch you can mark it and won’t have to count each time. 

Practice makes perfect!

If you are just starting out you might find this technique challenging and it can be but practicing is always a good idea. 

Your first knit and purl stitch probably didn’t look amazing but you got it there by practicing. 

If you love making garments, you will probably meet this technique a lot in your knitting journey, so there are many good reasons to test this technique out. 

​A blanket pattern will be an excellent excuse to practice!

Plus, if you are feeling a little nervous that you will mess up your existing work, making a test swatch to practice your pick-up and knit moves can go a long way. 

If you want to learn more about the knitting basics, please visit this post – Knitting Lessons.

In this blog post above, you will find all the basic knitting techniques you need to know, including how to cast on, how to cast off, how to knit the knit stitch, how to knit the purl stitch, how to knit with two strands together, many knitting tips and recommendations for beginners. 

Plus a lot of video tutorials if you are a visual learner. 

Other knitting techniques to pick up stitches

Depending on what exactly you are making and what knitting stitch you are using there are different ways you can pick up live stitches.

For example, If you are knitting in the stockinette stitch you will need to pick up stitches differently than you would do on a garter stitch fabric. 

The garter stitch creates a bigger amount of stitches per inch so it makes sense to pick up a stitch per two rows, (insert the tip of the needle in each garter ridge). 

On the other hand, the stockinette stitch has a smaller row gauge so you are going to pick up around three stitches per four rows. 

If you want to pick stitches along a vertical edge you will need to do slightly different than you would do on horizontal edges. 

If you want to pick up stitches purlwise you will need to use a different method than you would do knitwise. 

The differences are not big whether you are taking a different direction or you are working on the wrong side. 

Clean and straight lines and edges will make you look like a pro and your knitted piece look more well-rounded and complete.

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  1. Thank You Louise, for your Knitting Tutorial How To Pick Up And Knit Stitches. The technique has been a hurdle for me and now I understand how to do it.

  2. Great video. I was stuck in my pattern and now I see what it wants me to do. It appears that you are reversing your stitches on your last needle before knitting them. I’m a little confused with that.. Will I need to do that to with garter stitch?

    1. Hello Darlene, yes, when you pick them up – same as if you have frogged stitches (pulled them out) you may have to make sure they are the right way on your needles before you start knitting again. Thanks for watching the video, I hope it was helpful to you 🙂