Picking up stitches means that, with a knitting needle or crochet hook and a new strand of yarn, you dip into and out of the edge of the knitted fabric at hand, creating new loops. These new loops will serve as the foundation for a collar, button band, sleeve or baby bootie instep.

The only two things you need to focus on for picking up stitches along a straight edge are the two S’s: side and spacing. For the first “S,” be sure to start picking up stitches with the right side facing out. The second “S” reminds you to space the stitches evenly along the fabric. In other words, make sure that the picked-up loops aren’t clustered together or separated by vast tundras along the knitted edge.

picking up at vertical edge with knitting needle
picking up stitches picking up stitches  

1. Insert the knitting needle into the corner stitch of the first row, one stitch in from the side edge. Wrap the yarn around the needle knitwise.

2. Draw the yarn through. You have picked up one stitch. Continue to pick up stitches along the edge. Occasionally skip one row to keep the edge from flaring.  
picking up at horizontal edge with crochet hook
picking up stitches picking up stitches  

1. Insert the crochet hook from front to back into the center of the first stitch one row below the bound-off edge. Catch the yarn and pull a loop through.

2. Slip the loop onto the knitting needle, being sure it is not twisted. Continue to pick up one stitch in each stitch along the bound-off edge.  

Picking up stitches for a sloped edge (such as for a neck) takes just a little more care than for a straight edge, and most of that care comes in the spacing. When making a neckband, it’s especially important that the stitches be picked up evenly so the band will not flare out (too many stitches picked up) or pull in (too few stitches picked up).

marking edge for picking up stitches

Stitches must be picked up evenly so that the band will not flare or pull in. Place pins, markers or yarn, as shown, every 2"/5cm and pick up the same number of stitches between each pair of markers. If you know the number of stitches to be picked up, divide this by the number of sections to determine how many stitches to pick up in each one. If you don’t have a final count, use the marked sections to ensure even spacing around the neck.

picking up stitches
picking up stitches along shaped edge
picking up stitches picking up stitches  

Curved edge
Pick up stitches neatly just inside the shaped edge, following the curve and hiding the jagged selvage.

Diagonal edge
Pick up stitches one stitch in from the shaped edge, keeping them in a straight line.

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