tutorial: how to pick up on garter stitch edge

Remember last week when I said I use an easy method to pick up and knit stitches along a garter stitch edge? Well here it is!  This method works on garter stitch or seed stitch edges, which are essentially the same. Both have little bumps along the edge, and inserting your needle into each one and trying to coax a stitch to work through it can be fussy and tedious.
garter st edge

See those bumps? This is where we’re working.

Instead of inserting your needle tip from right to left, one stitch at a time, we’re going to put the whole shebang onto a placeholder needle all at once. Grab a needle, 2-3 sizes smaller than the one you’re using on the project. Here I’m using a size 5 double point on worsted fabric. On real projects, I normally use a circular.
slipping needle into bumps

(Sorry about that chip in my nail polish. I didn’t notice it until much later.)

Working from left to right, slip that small needle into each purl bump along the edge. You should have one stitch for every two rows. Depending on the stitch count you’re aiming for, you may need/want to fudge a bit on the cast on and bind off edges, where there aren’t true bumps.
knitting into bumps

Now you’ll have a tidy row of stitches on the needle, and can knit into each. Insert working needle (your regular sized project needle) from front to back, and knit normally into each stitch across the edge.
picked up and knit sts

And then you’ll have an edge like this.
picked up and knitted rows

And with a few more rows, it all comes together into a flat fabric.

I’ve used this method on the Seberg Pullover, to work the body down from the bias-knit garter stitch neckband, as well as on the seed stitch band of this beret pattern which will be released in the next week or so. It’s a fast, easy way to get a tidy edging, and once you try it once, there are all sorts of applications! Try it on a log cabin afghan!

 

 

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  • Keller Adcock

    Thanks for the great photos! This has really helped me figure out what I need to do on my as-yet-unnamed sweater. I’ve only ever picked up on stockinette. I appreciate the help!

    • http://www.kitchensinkdyeworks.com/ Mercedes

      I’m so glad they helped! Garter is SO different from Stockinette.

  • Janie

    Wonderful tutorial!  Thank you so much as I was having major brain fuzz!

  • Kathleen Conery

    I just discovered your blog so I’m commenting/asking kind of late, but…
    Thank you for the very clear explantion. I love the tip about picking up on a placeholder needle… genius! I was wondering if this is always a flat one-to-one pick up (well, one pick up to one bump) or do you ever have to add a stitch to make it lie flat? Would you do a different count if you were going into ribbing or lace rather than stockinette?
    Thanks!
    KathleenC

    • http://www.kitchensinkdyeworks.com/ Mercedes

      I would pick up in every bump, regardless of how many stitches I needed, to keep a neat line on the pick up edge. Then, on the next row or round, I would adjust to the stitch count needed for a particular pattern, as that can vary based on gauge.

      Hope that helps!

    • http://www.kitchensinkdyeworks.com/ Mercedes

      I would pick up in every bump, regardless of how many stitches I needed, to keep a neat line on the pick up edge. Then, on the next row or round, I would adjust to the stitch count needed for a particular pattern, as that can vary based on gauge.

      Hope that helps!

  • Corbettd

    What a great tutorial. I found this very helpful as I am left-handed – even thought I knit right-handed – so picking up this way was so much easier for me. Kath Coirbett

  • Megan Emily

    SUPER helpful tutorial.  You explained this better than any other site I’ve surfed!  Also, I love that you apologized for your chipped nail polish.  Thanks for your help!

    • http://www.kitchensinkdyeworks.com/ Mercedes

      My pleasure! 

  • Katrina

    What would you do if your patter called for nearly twice as many stiches to be picked up as you have little bumps/knots?

    • http://www.kitchensinkdyeworks.com/ Mercedes

      I would normally either pick up all the stitches I could using this method, and then increase on the next row, or I would alternate picking up in a bump and then casting on a single stitch using the backward loop method until I had the right number of stitches.