How to: Picking Up Stitches

Recently I’ve received several requests for a tutorial on picking up stitches—it’s a technique that I use allll the time, so it’s about time that I show it!


There are plenty of tutorials on the web for picking up stitches along the edge of a piece, a technique that is used in many garments, but in this tutorial I’m going to show you how to pick up stitches on a three-dimensional piece, like the body of a toy. It’s a handy, seamless way to add appendages and other features like ears and fins. The photos below show how to pick up stitches horizontally—if you need to pick up stitches vertically, insert the needle sideways under each knitted stitch.

1. Beginning with the rightmost stitch, slip the tip of a double-pointed needle (DPN) under the bar between knit stitches, and lay the yarn between the tip of the needle and the piece, with the loose end on the right.


2. Use the needle to pull a loop of yarn out from under the bar, making one stitch on your needle.


3. The placement of the next stitch depends on whether you’ll be working the stitches flat (as for ears) or as an I-cord (for arms/legs). If you’ll be working flat, pick up the bar that lies between the following two knit stitches. If you’ll be making an I-cord, pick up the bar that appears one half stitch over, so that the stitches are closer together. Slip the DPN under the bar, and loop the yarn around the back from right to left, just as you would when making a knit stitch. Pull this loop out from under the bar.


4. Continue to pick up stitches in a straight row, until you’ve picked up all that the pattern calls for. If you’ll be working the stitches flat, turn the entire piece around to work the reverse side. If you’ll be working an I-cord, slide the stitches to the right end of the needle to work the first stitch.



• If you’re having trouble picking up the stitches with a needle, you can use a crochet hook to pick up each stitch before slipping it onto the needle.


• The place where you begin picking up stitches is important, especially when you’re picking up two sets of stitches for a pair of flat pieces (like ears or wings).

When picking up the stitches for the tiny bat‘s right wing, start a few stitches down from the ear and pick up down the side of the body.


When picking up the stitches for the bat’s left wing, start toward the bottom of the body and pick up the stitches up the side of the body.


Questions? Got your own tips on picking up stitches? Let us know in the comments!

3 thoughts on “How to: Picking Up Stitches

  1. I always use a crochet hook to pick up stitches, I find that I have more control that way :)

  2. I always slip my needle under all the bars first, then knit across that to attach the working yarn. That’s just how I interpreted instructions I read, I guess. :) This way seems much better—thank you!

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