Troubleshooting 101: How to Fix a Dropped Stitch In Knitting

There is nothing more terrifying than a runaway stitch to a new knitter. And even for experienced knitters, finding a stitch a few rows down can make your stomach drop. But have no fear! This ultimate guide will cover how to fix a dropped stitch in knitting with the tools you have on hand.

How to Fix a Dropped Stitch - A Knitting Tutorial

What is a Dropped Stitch in Knitting?

A dropped stitch in knitting is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a stitch that has dropped off you needle. If you’ve caught it right away, you just pop it back on. But a slippery yarn or too much tension in opposing directions can cause a run.

What is a “Run” in Knitting?

A run is a series of dropped stitches in a single column. This creates a ladder—or a series of loose bars running up and down a column where the stitches have come undone.

A run in dropped stitches in knitting

So How Do I Fix a Dropped Stitch in Knitting?

The answer is different depending on what type of fabric you’re creating and what tools you have on hand. This guide will cover how to fix dropped stitches in stockinette and garter stitch with and without a crochet hook.

But there are a few things you should keep in mind first.

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Why Have I Dropped a Stitch?

Stitches often slip off due to jostling while you’re knitting (i.e. my kid divebombing me) or while being carried around in your knitting bag. It’s a normal part of knitting. But if it’s happening all the time, you may need to look at your needle choice.

Getting Started: For All Fabrics & Techniques

  • If you discover a drop stitch secure it with a locking stitch marker to stop it from dropping any further down your knitting.
  • Continue knitting your pattern until you arrive at the same vertical column as your dropped stitch. After you’ve completed the steps below to fix your dropped stitch, you can carry on knitting.
  • To work out how many rows down your stitch has dropped count the wide bars leading down to the stitch.
How to Fix a Dropped Stitch - A Knitting Tutorial

How to Fix a Dropped Stitch in Stockinette Without a Crochet Hook

How to Fix a Dropped Stitch in Stockinette Without a Crochet Hook: Step 1

1. Place the dropped stitch on your left needle on with the right leg over the front of the needle and the left leg hanging off the back of the needle. The stitch is now ready to be knit.

How to Fix a Dropped Stitch in Stockinette Without a Crochet Hook: Step 2

2. Insert your right needle into the dropped stitch as if to knit, going front to back and left to right.

How to Fix a Dropped Stitch in Stockinette Without a Crochet Hook: Step 3

3. Locate the wide bar above your dropped stitch, pick up the bar with your right needle as if knitting a regular stitch.

How to Fix a Dropped Stitch in Stockinette Without a Crochet Hook: Step 4

4. Pull the bar of yarn through the dropped stitch, letting the stitch fall off the left needle.

How to Fix a Dropped Stitch in Stockinette Without a Crochet Hook: Step 5

5. Transfer the new stitch from the right needle to the left needle, situating the stitch so that the right leg hangs over the front of the needle and the left leg hangs off the back of the needle.

6. Repeat steps 2-5 until you reach the top of the column. Check both sides of your knitting to ensure you haven’t missed (or twisted) any bars. Continue knitting as normal.

How to Fix a Dropped Stitch in Stockinette With a Crochet Hook

How to Fix a Dropped Stitch in Stockinette: Step 1

1. Insert your crochet hook into the dropped stitch, from front to back.

How to Fix a Dropped Stitch in Stockinette: Step 2

2. Insert your crochet hook under the wide bar of yarn above the dropped stitch. You will have two loops on your crochet hook, with the dropped stitch at the bottom.

How to Fix a Dropped Stitch in Stockinette: Step 3

3. Turn the crochet hook down towards the bottom of the V, catching the bar of yarn.

How to Fix a Dropped Stitch in Stockinette: Step 4

4. Pull the bar of yarn through the dropped stitch, pulling it through the loop from back to front.

5. Repeat steps 2-4 until you reach the top of the column. Then slip the stitch onto the left needle, situating the stitch so that the right leg hangs over the front of the needle and the left leg hangs off the back of the needle. Check both sides of your knitting to ensure you haven’t missed (or twisted) any bars. Continue knitting as normal.

How to Fix a Dropped Stitch in Stockinette: Step 5

The Difference Between Stockinette & Garter

Stockinette is all knit stitches on one side and purl stitch on the other side. Garter stitch alternates between knit stitches and purl stitches on both sides. So before picking up any dropped stitches in garter stitch you need to work out if the stitch you’re creating is a knit stitch or a purl stitch.

Each stitch can be identified by the ridges made by the stitches on either side of the drop stitch. If your drop stitch is located beneath a ridge pick up a knit stitch. If it is located on a ridge pick up a purl stitch.

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How to Fix a Dropped Stitch in Garter Stitch Without a Crochet Hook

If your first dropped stitch is a knit stitch, start with step 1. If your first dropped stitch is a purl stitch, start with step 5.

Set up for both knit and purl: Place the dropped stitch on your left needle on with the right leg over the front of the needle and the left leg hanging off the back of the needle. The stitch is now ready to be knit.

 

How to pick up a knit stitch without a crochet hook:

See above for photos.

  1. Insert your right needle into the dropped stitch as if to knit, going front to back and left to right.
  2. Locate the wide bar above your dropped stitch, pick up the bar with your right needle as if knitting a regular stitch.
  3. Pull the bar of yarn through the dropped stitch, letting the stitch fall off the left needle.
  4. Transfer the new stitch from the right needle to the left needle, situating the stitch so that the right leg hangs over the front of the needle and the left leg hangs off the back of the needle.

How to pick up a purl stitch without a crochet hook:

Step 5, place bar to the left of the dropped stitch.

5. Using your right needle pull the wide bar above your dropped stitch up and over the dropped stitch, so it is now sitting to the left of the dropped stitch on the left needle.

6. Insert your right needle into the dropped stitch as if to purl and pick up

7. Pick up the wide bar in front of your stitch and pull it through the dropped stitch, pulling the dropped stitch off your needle.

8. Transfer the new stitch from the right needle to the left needle, situating the stitch so that the right leg hangs over the front of the needle and the left leg hangs off the back of the needle.

Repeat steps 1-7 until you have reached the top of the column. Check both sides of your knitting to ensure you haven’t missed (or twisted) any bars. Then continue knitting as normal.

How to Fix a Dropped Stitch in Garter Stitch With a Crochet Hook

If your first dropped stitch is a knit stitch, start with step 1. If your first dropped stitch is a purl stitch. Start with step 5. You will have to remove the crochet hook and reinsert it between stitches.

How to pick up a knit stitch with a crochet hook:

See above for photos.

  1. Insert your crochet hook into the dropped stitch, from front to back.
  2. Insert your crochet hook under the wide bar of yarn above the dropped stitch. You will have two loops on your crochet hook, with the dropped stitch at the bottom.
  3. Turn the crochet hook down towards the bottom of the V, catching the bar of yarn.
  4. Pull the bar of yarn through the dropped stitch, pulling it through the loop from back to front.

How to pick up a purl stitch with a crochet hook:

How to Fix a Dropped Stitch in Garter Stitch: Step 1

5.   Insert your crochet hook into the dropped stitch going from back to front.

How to Fix a Dropped Stitch in Garter Stitch: Step 2

6. Identify the bar of yarn above your dropped stitch and drop it in front of/below your hook/dropped stitch. The dropped stitch is now above the bar.

7. Turn the hook downward and catch the bar.

How to Fix a Dropped Stitch in Garter Stitch: Step 3

8. Pulling the bar through the dropped stitch.

Repeat steps 1-7 until you have reached the top of the column. Transfer the new stitch from the crochet hook to the left needle, situating the stitch so that the right leg hangs over the front of the needle and the left leg hangs off the back of the needle.

Check both sides of your knitting to ensure you haven’t missed (or twisted) any bars. Then continue knitting as normal.

How to Fix a Dropped Stitch for Ribbing & Seed Stitch (Moss Stitch)

It’s simple! For ribbing, simply flip your knitting so that a column of stockinette is facing you and follow the instructions for how to fix a dropped stitch in stockinette. Seed stitch (or moss stitch) has the same construction as garter stitch—alternating knits and purls (you’re just alternating them within the row too). So you can use the garter stitch instructions to fix seed stitch too!

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What If the Stitch is Several Rows Down and You’ve Knit Over the Top?

So you’ve found a dropped stitch that happened six rows ago and you’ve been knitting like it’s not there. This means there’s maybe one loose bar above it and then no extra yarn for you pick up. Well then you have 2 options.

  1. You can go through the steps of picking up a dropped stitch, using the bars between the stitches you’ve knit. This will result in a patch of tight knitting because you’re pulling from the stitches around the dropped stitch to recreate the column. I tend to do this when it’s just a few rows or the stitch count really matters.
  2. You can tie off the stitch. After picking up any loose bars using the instructions above, put 12” (30 cm) of project yarn on a tapestry needle. Enter the stitch from front to back (RS to WS), pulling it through until you reach the middle of the yarn, and then use a duplicate stitch to secure the tail on the WS to the right of the hole. On the RS, place the other half of the yarn onto a tapestry needle. Catch both legs of the 2 stitches above (mimicking a stitch) and pull the yarn through. Then insert the needle into the stitch you’re securing from front to back and use the duplicate stitch to secure on the WS.  
A step-by-step photo guide on how to fix a dropped stitch

What to Do Now?

If you need to practice before you’re comfortable, grab an old swatch, unravel the bind off, drop down a stitch, and practice picking it up. Or just wait until it happens naturally and fix it as you go.

Either way, go forth and knit without fear! You’ve got this. You now know how to fix a dropped stitch in knitting without a mini-heart attack!

Looking for an easy to knit project to practice on? Check out these 35 Basic Knitting Patterns (many of which are free!)

And as always, ask me your questions!

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