Pick Up A Side Edge

We often need to pick up stitches along a side edge of the knitted fabric (when joining sleeves to the body of a sweater, or adding the front bands on a cardigan, for instance). Hand knitters frequently struggle with this technique; it can be frustrating trying to pick up the required number of stitches evenly. This is so much easier on a knitting machine. Here are some tips to help.

side edge

For the neatest edge, unless the pattern specifically tells you to do something different, always pick up under 2 strands, and hang them both into the hook of the appropriate needle.

Along the edge there will be a looser stitch, then a tighter stitch; these alternate along the edge. They are frequently referred to as loops and knots. Sometimes the pattern will say something like "pick up 3 stitches per every 4 rows". You should pick up the first loop, the next knot, the next loop, and skip the next knot. This is 3 stitches every 4 rows, exactly what the directions require. Repeat this sequence throughout.

pick up side

Sometimes the pattern will tell you to pick up X number of stitches evenly along the edge.
Pick up the beginning and ending stitched (points 1 left and 1 right on the illustration) and hang on the appropriate needles.

Pick up 2 stitches in the center and hang on needles 1 left and 1 right of center 0.
"Guestimate" the middle point of the fabric on the left and hang on the approximate center needle on the left; do the same on the right side. This is point 3 on the illustration.

Once again "guestimate" the center points and hang these. Do this on both the right side, as shown, and also on the left (points 4 on the illustration). Continue dividing and hanging the center points until only 3 or 4 stitches remain in each section; hang these stitches on the appropriate needles.

It is not necessary to count anything by using this method. I used a little chant when teaching this technique. "Divide in half and hang; divide in half and hang; divide in half and hang". One of my students  called it her "divide and conquer method". I think that describes it very well.

Tutorial Index

This tutorial was copyrighted and uploaded to the original Clearwater Knits website in 1997. This page was added July 28, 2016.