Have you ever struggled with the knitting pattern instruction to “pick-up and knit”? Then you’ll know how frustrating it can be to make sure that the stitches are evenly spaced and neat looking. Whether it’s button bands, neck bands, sleeves, or borders, here’s a walkthrough of how to pick up stitches effectively and efficiently.

Firstly, for this example, we’ve got a line of slipped stitches along the edge (selvedge stitches), and we’re going to pick up and knit (this is sometimes just called “pick up”) one new stitch in each of these selvedge stitches. Starting at one corner, or wherever your pattern suggests, put the right hand needle tip under the 2 strands of the selvedge stitch. If you don’t have slipped selvedge stitches like this, then insert your needle tip through two strands at the edge. Going under two strands will give you a neater and more stable edge than just going through one strand.

Secondly, wrap the working yarn around the right hand needle tip as if you were making a knit stitch (below left). Then, trying to keep your tension, pull that working yarn loop underneath the selvedge stitch, thereby creating a new stitch on the right hand needle (below right). Working along the selvedge stitches, repeat steps one and two, until you have the number of stitches required for your pattern.

Extra tip: If you don’t have selvedge stitches as in the example above, your pattern might say something like “pick up and knit 48 sts along the edge” You can use this extra tip to help you evenly space out the picked up stitches. This is especially helpful if your pattern doesn’t indicate the rate of picking up: i.e. it doesn’t state something like “pick up approximately 2 stitches for every 3 rows”.

Using lockable stitch markers, split the edge into even sections, by placing a marker to indicate the halfway point along the edge, and then mark a quarter and three-quarters of the way along. This means that your edge is split into four equal sections (you can do this further times as needed – eg into eight equal sections).

Next, take the number of picked up stitches stated in the pattern and divide that by four. This is the number of stitches that you’ll pick up in each marked out quarter. In this example, we’ve to pick up 48 stitches in total, which would mean 12 in each quarter.

Using this method means that as you’re picking up stitches in each quarter you can easily keep count and rip back one small section if you need more or less stitches.

You can also place a stitch marker onto the needle every time you complete a section. This will help make any ripping back and counting easier as you won’t need to count those marked sections on the needles: you’ll already know that there’s 12 stitches there!

Looking for further help with picking up stitches? I’ll be running my Picking Up Stitches Masterclass online very soon! Be the first to know when it launches by signing up to the waitlist here.