You know the feeling when your knitting is zipping along nicely, all is right with the world… then you realize you dropped a stitch about five inches back? Yeah, it sucks. Fortunately, it doesn’t mean you’re doomed to rip those five inches back and start anew. Here’s a visual (and written) guide to picking up dropped stitches. (Hard mode: it also covers how to redo those decreases that you did on the way up, too.)
Essentially what you do is 1) grab your loose stitch with a locking stitch marker 2) rip back only the affected stitches 3) re-knit just those stitches using dpns.
Here we go!
To start, here’s my sweater, which you’ll notice has a loose stitch hanging out around 5 inches down. (In my defense, I was knitting in a dark movie theater…)
The first step is to rescue the dropped stitch! Notice that I used a locking stitch marker to stop that stitch from escaping any further.
In this case, I dropped the stitch several inches back and kept knitting without noticing–including doing a few decreases. This means I have to not only undo the column of stitches my dropped stitch is in, but the ones beside it since I’ll need to redo my decreases.
(Had I merely dropped the stitch in my current row and then it had escaped further down, which is a more common scenario, I would just need to redo the single column. Some people prefer to use a crochet hook for that.)
My second step, after rescuing my dropped stitch, is to mark where the decreases occur so that I could redo them.
Notice that I put the markers on the side of the knitting that I won’t be redoing.
The third step is fun. Figure out which stitch columns will need to be redone, and rip them all out. OMG SCARY RIGHT?
I’m not too worried about those bottom guys going too far, since wool and other animal fibers tend to be well-behaved.
Grab the newly freed stitches — including your dropped stitch — onto a needle. I like to use DPNs for this but it’s not a necessity.
You’ll notice that all of the rows above your current row are now little ladders of yarn. This is what you’ll be knitting with, but you want to make sure that you’re knitting with the correct row. Just pull them straight and knit with the strand on the bottom.
Now knit your first row.
Keep going. When you get to the decrease rows (i.e. same row as your markers), decrease as you normally would.
Once you get back to the top, you’re all done! Don’t worry if it looks a little wonky compared to the rest of the piece; blocking will take care of that.