Dropped stitch in knitting

How to fix a dropped stitch in knitting

It happens to all of us… sometimes a stitch drops off the needle tips, and more often than not, we don’t even notice and keep knitting. That dropped stitch can unravel an entire column, so it must be fixed, sooner rather than later. Step one: Don’t panic! It’s not a disaster, and it’s easy to fix.

The tools you need for fixing a dropped stitch

All you need to fix a dropped stitch is a crochet hook and a locking stitch marker

If there’s one tool besides the knitting needles a knitter should always keep close at hand it’s a crochet hook. These things are pure magic when it comes to catching that dropped stitch and looping it back up the column, reforming the knitted or purled stitches. Crochet hooks are also useful for picking up stitches along a finished edge, and a variety of different cast-on methods. If you don’t own a crochet hook, and you’re already staring at a dropped stitch, don’t worry. It’s perfectly possible to fix it with a spare knitting needle. It’s just a little more cumbersome.

Ideally you want to use a crochet hook a bit smaller than your knitting needle size, but almost any size will do in a pinch.

You will also need to keep a locking stitch marker close to your knitting. When you spot a dropped stitch, you can secure it with the stitch marker.

The steps to correcting a dropped stitch

Step 1, spot the mistake – don’t panic!
Step 2, secure the dropped stitch with a locking stitch marker. This will prevent the dropped stitch from unraveling further.
Step 3, knit until you are directly above the dropped stitch.
Step 4, use a crochet hook to reknit the missing stitches. Put the hook through the loop of the dropped stitch from the front, then catch the ladder in the row above and pull it through the loop. Keep doing this till you reach the top row. Put the stitch back on the needles, paying attention not to twist it (see videos below for this step).
Step 5, your tension may be a bit uneven in the recreated column. You can even the tension about by gently moving the slack from a loose area to a tight area, up and down the rows.

Video tutorials

There are two basic stitches, the knit stitch and the purl stitch, and when you correct a dropped stitch you need to recreate the stitches differently depending on whether it’s a knit or a purl. I have collected the best video tutorials I could find to help you out.

Fixing a dropped stitch in stockinette

Here’s a video from Creatiknit showing how to pick up a dropped stitch in stockinette stitch with the right side (the knit side) facing you:

Fixing a dropped stitch in garter

It is a little more complicated to fix a dropped stitch in garter stitch because you have to alternate between recreating a knit stitch and a purl stitch. Here’s a video from VeryPink Knits showing you how it’s done:

Fixing a dropped stitch without a crochet hook

You don’t always have a crochet hook handy, but luckily you can also pick up a dropped stitch without one. Here’s a video from 10rowsaday demonstrating the method for both the knit and the purl stitch:

Avoid twisting your stitches

When you have dropped a stitch and return it to the needles, it is easy to accidentally put it on backwards. If you knit it that way, it will be twisted and look a little different than the normal v’s of the stockinette stitch. Sheep and stitch has a great video showing you how to recognize and correct a twisted stitch:

Fixing a dropped stitch after binding off

The previous videos have dealt with the dropped stitch by knitting to the affected column and laddering the dropped stitch back up. This is how you want to do it, but if it happens that you don’t even notice your dropped stitch before finishing the work and binding off, there’s still a way to minimize the damage and make your knitted piece look good. Check out this video from Roxanne Richardson:

Missing a ladder when picking up a dropped stitch

Check out my post about what happens when you miss a ladder, when you pick up a dropped stitch.

Knit without fear

Now that you know how to correct dropped stitches, you can knit with no fear. Dropped stitches are not a disaster. It will happen from time to time, but if you keep a locking stitch marker with you, you can always secure the live stitch and fix it later. If you don’t, use a scrap of yarn to tie around the wayward stitch. Enjoy your fearless knitting!

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3 thoughts on “How to fix a dropped stitch in knitting”

  1. I’m currently knitting a stockinette triangle shawl and I’ve noticed at times there is a small hole. (1st triangle shawl) and I dont know of this is covered on your blog which I love let me say but can you possible do a post about this ans how to fix it? Thank you and loved all the help and advice. Self taught from utube I’ve become a pretty experienced knitter. I crochet to buy love knitting so much more! Great stuff thanks so much for all your time & help!

    1. Hi Vicky, thanks for the kind words. I will have to see a photo of your shawl and the holes you are talking about, in order to know what type of problem you are facing. The mist common reason for a hole is an accidental yarn over. I have a blog post about that called “Mysterious holes and extra stitches” in my Knitting SOS category. If that’s not your problem, then you are welcome to email me a photo of your work with some more details (such as the part of the pattern causing you trouble), and I will try to help. I might be a little slow in responding – I am on vacation 😉

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