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About Dropped Stitches

Learning how to fix a dropped stitch will come in handy. Dropping a stitch is one of the most common mistakes in knitting. No need to panic! Whether you dropped the last stitch you made or one several rows back, we’ll walk you through how to fix a dropped stitch in knitting.

What is a dropped knit stitch?

A dropped knit stitch happens when a new stitch doesn’t quite make it from one needle to the other and gets dropped off the needles.

A dropped stitch can start to drop down the rows below, leaving gaps in your knitting with long open loops in the fabric. Today we’ll show you how to pick up a dropped knit stitch and a dropped purl stitch. Once you know both techniques you’ll be able to fix a dropped stitch in any pattern.

Want to know how to pick up stitches in garter stitch? Read through to the end!

What does a dropped stitch look like?

A dropped stitch looks like a loose loop in your fabric. Depending upon how far back you dropped the stitch or how slippery your yarn is, the stitch might not have dropped at all, or it might have unraveled down several rows.

As a stitch drops, the yarn that used to form the stitches below also flatten out in the gap and turn into straight horizontal strands. These strands are called “ladders” because they look like rungs on a ladder. At the base of these ladders, you’ll find your dropped stitch.

You might not have any ladders, which means you caught the stitch early enough that it hasn’t unraveled yet! In this case, skip to the “repeat” step in the tutorials below.

How to Pick Up a Dropped Knit Stitch Using a Crochet Hook

We definitely recommend using a crochet hook to fix a dropped stitch. A crochet hook makes picking up stitches much faster and easier. You can also use a spare DPN needle in a pinch; however, it’ll take more time and be far more frustrating than a crochet hook. 

Our tutorial will show you how to fix a dropped knit stitch using a crochet hook. Make sure to pick a hook the same mm size as the needles you’re using!

Materials & Skills

Supplies

Skills You Need To Know

  • helpful to know what knit stitches and purl stitches look like

How to Fix a Dropped Knit Stitch

This tutorial will show you how to fix a dropped stitch in knitting (knit-wise). In this case, the crochet hook is inserted upward through the dropped stitch. Each ladder is then hooked down through the stitch as you work upward toward the knitting needles.

How to fix a dropped stitch - Knit Stitch Step 1

Step 1:


Trace the path of the dropped stitch, finding the last loop at the bottom of the ladders, and stop it from dropping any further by pinching it.

How to fix a dropped stitch - Knit Stitch Step 2

Step 2:

Insert your crochet hook upward through the loop.

How to fix a dropped stitch - Knit Stitch Step 3

Step 3:

Thread the hook under/behind the ladder just above the dropped stitch. Pinch the dropped stitch loop using your finger and thumb to hold it in place.

How to fix a dropped stitch - Knit Stitch Step 4

Step 4:

Pull the ladder strand through the dropped stitch. Once the ladder is pulled all the way through the dropped stitch, let the original dropped stitch go. You’ve just picked up a dropped stitch!

How to fix a dropped stitch - Knit Stitch Step 5

Step 5:

Insert the hook up under the next ladder above the dropped stitch. Pinching the stitch on your needle using the finger and thumb on your other hand, hook the needle tip upward through the loop, pulling the ladder strand through the stitch.

How to fix a dropped stitch - Knit Stitch Repeat steps 2-5

Repeat:

Repeat step 5 until you’ve picked up all the stitches in the column.

Slip the last stitch onto the knitting needle, making sure the stitch is facing the same direction as the other stitches on the needle. If you put it on backward, the stitch will be twisted and look wrong in the final fabric.

How to fix a dropped stitch in knitting

Picking Up a Dropped Purl Stitch

This tutorial will show you how to fix a dropped stitch purl-wise. In this case, the ladders are positioned in front of the dropped stitch, and the crochet hook is inserted downward through the dropped stitch. After picking up each ladder, the hook needs to be removed and repositioned in order to work the next one. Each ladder is then hooked down through the stitch as you work upward toward the knitting needles.

How to fix a dropped stitch - Purl Stitch Step 1

Step 1!:

Trace the path of the dropped stitch, finding the last loop at the bottom of the ladders, and stop it from dropping any further by pinching it.

Find the first ladder above the dropped stitch, and bring it forward, in front of the dropped stitch.

How to fix a dropped stitch - Purl Stitch Step 2

Step 2:

Insert the crochet hook downward through the stitch and behind the ladder.

How to fix a dropped stitch - Purl Stitch Step 3

Step 3:

Hook the ladder up through the dropped stitch, letting the old stitch go once the strand is pulled all the way through.

Congratulations! You’ve just picked one dropped purl stitch.

How to fix a dropped stitch - Purl Stitch Step 4

Step 4:

Pinch the new loop to keep it in place before removing the crochet hook.

How to fix a dropped stitch - Purl Stitch Step 5

Step 5:

Find the next ladder above the stitch, and bring it forward, in front of the stitch dropped stitch.

How to fix a dropped stitch - Purl Stitch Repeat steps 2-5

Repeat:

Repeat steps 2-5 until you’ve picked up all the stitches in the column.

Slip the last stitch onto the knitting needle making sure the stitch is facing the same direction as the other stitches on the needle. If you put it on backward the stitch will be twisted and look wrong in the final fabric.

Picking up Dropped Garter Stitches

You’ll need to alternate picking stitches up, knit-wise and purl-wise, every other row for garter stitch. The first step is determining whether the dropped stitch you’re starting with is a knit or purl stitch.

Once you figure it out, you’ll be doing the opposite of whatever the stitch is. For example if you’re starting with a knit stitch (find the “v” shape!) you’ll be picking the ladder up purl-wise. If it’s a purl (look for the purl “bump” at the base of the stitch!), you’ll be picking the next ladder up knit-wise.

Need more help? Our video tutorial above walks you through picking stitches up in garter stitch!

Learn two ways to fix a dropped stitch in knitting!
Purl “bump”
Knit “v”

Remember to alternate your rows! Every other row will be a knit-wise or purl-wise pick up!

Tips and Tricks for How to Fix a Dropped Stitch

Help! I dropped more than one stitch.

This tutorial works well if there is a single dropped stitch. If you accidentally drop many stitches and they drop far enough into your fabric, it might be easier to simply unravel your project until you reach the last intact row. However, if you’ve dropped just a few stitches, you can still fix them using the same method.

Put each stitch on a holder (safety pins or locking stitch markers are great!) and then carefully pick up one of the stitches all the way up before working the second (or more!) stitches. Keep going until you’ve replaced all of the dropped stitches onto the knitting needles. 

Help! I didn’t notice my dropped stitch and kept knitting.

If you’ve dropped a stitch many rows back and kept working, you won’t have a set of dropped “ladder” stitches leading back up to your needles. In this case, you can pick the stitch back up to the point you dropped it.

You’ll need to stop once you get to the part of your knitting where you kept going after dropping it off the needle. You won’t have enough room between stitches to keep picking them back up onto the knitting needle. If you try to pick it up using the strand between intact stitches above where the ladders end, your fabric will pucker and look too tight.

In this case, it’s best to pick up the dropped stitch until all the ladders (if there are any) are gone. Put your dropped stitch on a holder (locking stitch marker or a safety pin works!), then unravel your work until you reach the stitch. Replace it on your needles and continue working from there.

Can’t fix it now? Put the dropped stitch on hold!

If you’re out and can’t fix a dropped stitch right away, make sure to secure it with either a locking stitch marker or safety pin. Even tying a loop of waste yarn through it will work temporarily.

Dropping a stitch on purpose to fix a mistake.

You might also drop a stitch on purpose! If you’ve made a mistake several rows back in a single stitch, dropping a stitch down to fix the stitch is usually the fastest and easiest way to fix it.

In this case, start at the error and trace it up the rows until you find the stitch on your needle directly above the mistake. Drop that stitch off your needle and unravel it down until you reach the error. Follow all the steps for catching the stitch and reworking it back up to your needle correctly. 

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