How to Pick Up Stitches

“I hate sewing the finished knitting together”, how many knitters have you heard say this? I am no exception, so when I write a pattern I try to include as few sewn seams as possible in the construction. I’m working on the pattern for a knitted shark at the moment, it has only two short seams. And the way to achieve this sew free experience is mostly through picking up stitches.

Picking up stitches means picking up a loop of yarn from underneath the fabric so that there’s a new place to start knitting from. It’s sometimes written out in full as Pick Up and Knit (or PU and K) this means that the first row of sts you make by picking up the loops of yarn will count as a knit row and that the next row you’ll work in stockinette stitch will be a purl row.

In this blog post I’ll show you how to make a basic pick up, but also how to PU in the middle of a piece of knitted fabric and how to PU in the round to create a double sided stockinette stitch flap.

A basic PU

Select the hole in the knitted fabric which you will PU through and put your needle through it. Wherever possible this hole should be the V shape created by a stitch, although this is not always the case, it’s a good rule of thumb and if you keep the V idea firmly in your head you’ll find it easier to pick up sts in straight lines and without being too cramped together.

Hold a new length of yarn at the back of the work.

Wrap the yarn counterclockwise around the needle.

Pull this loop through to the right side of the fabric

Repeat for as many sts as you require. Always PU sts starting from the furthest right and working left, otherwise your first knitted row won’t be a purl row and things will get confusing.

PU in the middle of the fabric

Sometimes you might need to PU sts right in the middle of some knitted fabric rather than on the edge. This presents you with a new problem as how will you knit with the yarn if it’s on the reverse side of the fabric when your stitches are on the right side. The solution to this is very simple.

PU your sts as described above

Cut the yarn leaving enough to knit the section. A simple rule of thumb for yarn yardage estimates is to measure the length of the row and allow three times that length in yarn.

Thread the yarn end onto a tapestry needle and thread it through an adjacent hole. Make sure you’re not threading the yarn through a hole that’s already being used for a loop.

Then you’re ready to start knitting those sts.

PU in the Round

You’ll need to be able to do this to make the pectoral fins on the shark. It sounds hard, but it’s very easy. You’re essentially knitting in the round on double pointed needles, except that the circle has been squashed flat to create a double sided stockinette stitch flap.

PU a line of sts

Turn the work upside down and PU another line of sts directly above the first.You should always PU above the first row of sts otherwise you’ll come to knit and find that you’re knitting with the right side on the inside and the wrong side facing outwards.

And here’s where it gets complicated, if you’re PU with the original fabric oriented in the original way it was knitted you should PU through the middle of each V and when you turn, you should PU through the middle of the row above it.

However if you’re PU with the original fabric oriented sideways, keep those Vs in your mind and PU through the sideways V and not in the holes between the sts. If you PU the lines of sts too close to one another they will be cramped, look messy and may pull the original piece out of shape.

Except…sometimes a pattern requires you to PU an odd number of sts using this technique, then obviously you should use a between sts hole either at one end or the other of the squashed circle.

Picking Up sts can really take the pain out of finishing and opens up a world of new construction options. If you have any more PU techniques you’d like to share, please leave a message here.


Filed under Knitting Technique

5 responses to “How to Pick Up Stitches

  1. Awesome post. Thanks so much for taking the time to write it out for us. 🙂

  2. Pingback: Shark – Hints and Tips |

  3. Pingback: Sewing Knitting Together. (Some basics to help you finish with finishing.) |

  4. Pingback: Tiny Santa and Christmas Fairy Hints and Tips |

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