1) Too many stitches at the end of your row.
2) Not enough stitches at the end of a row.
3) The edges of the knitting are not uniformly straight, they seem to go wider to narrower.
4) Some stitches are sticking out more than others.
5) Some stitches look like they're too loose.
Always count your stitches when you finish a row to make sure that you have the same number that your originally cast on. If you have too many or too few in that row you've either lost a stitch or dropped a stitch or accidentally added a stitch. That's the biggest sign you're making a knitting mistake -too many or too few stitches than you're supposed to have.
If you don't have the correct number of stitches, tink back on the row, which is to undo each individual stitch until you're at the beginning of a row. Watch carefully as you undo those stitches and see if there's any obvious difference between each stitch that can tell you what you may have done incorrectly.
One really common knitting mistake that causes too many stitches is failing to keep your yarn in the right position when starting your next row. If you hold the yarn in the wrong position when starting your next row you can accidentally create an extra stitch. When you're knitting, you want to make sure that you keep your yarn at the back of the work. That means that when you insert your needle into the stitch to knit, you make sure that the working yarn is positioned behind the needle that you've just inserted into the stitch. When you're purling, you want to make sure that you keep your yarn at the front of the work, that is, when you insert your needle into the stitch to be purled, your yarn is in front of that needle. (see photos)
Frequently check your grip on the knitting needles. It's easy for beginners to fear that the stitches will fall off the needles, but you needn't grasp the needles with the strength of an orangutan. Loosen your arms, shake out your shoulders, take a deep breath and go.
When you're unaccustomed to knitting you don't know what the action is supposed to look like, so it's difficult to tell when you're making a mistake. One mistake indeed is when you don't pull the new stitch all the way through the old stitch. You may lose your attention for a moment and think that you have the new stitch on your needle when you in fact have your old stitch which you have just simply slipped from one needles to the other.
Dropping a stitch is when you accidentally lose a stitch off of your needles and it unravels. If this happens you can easily pull the stitches through one by one using a crochet hook. You can see some examples here, or you can undo each stitch until you get to the place where you dropped the stitch. This is one way that you end up with the wrong number of stitches with your knitting.
When done in the right spot at the right time, knitting two stitches together is called decreasing, but when you do it when you're not supposed to, you end up with too few stitches. If you realize that you've done this, just tink back to the beginning of the row, count your stitches and try again. If you don't have the correct number of stitches, keep tinking back until you.
Sometimes it's hard to remember that when you're knitting and purling that your yarn has to be in the right place. If you keep your yarn in the front like when you're purling and knit the stitch, you end up with an extra stitch. This is usually called a yarn over and you do it when you need to increase a stitch, but when you do it by accident you end up with too many stitches and ribbing that looks all wonky. The same thing happens when you purl with the yarn held in the back as if you're knitting. So when you're knitting one and purling one for a rib pattern, you have to switch the position of the yarn from that back to the front to purl, and then from the front to back to knit.
These are the biggest mistakes that you can make in your knitting and just having a little bit of knowledge and being proactive about counting your stitches will keep you from making too many knitting mistakes.
If you're having too much trouble teaching yourself to knit and need a little guidance, check out our learn to knit section and find ways to learn to knit online at home.
As part of our New Knitter's Guide we're sharing all of the items that will help new knitters immerse themselves into knitting culture. The Yarn Harlot is one of our most prominent writers. A recommendation from her can send a knitting pattern's popularity into the stratosphere. That's why we've occasionally referred to her as the Oprah of Knitting.
If you've been knitting for a little while you may have heard whisperings of "of course you should knit this, The Yarn Harlot has made 8 of them". Who is the Yarn Harlot anyway and how can you find her? The Yarn Harlot is actually Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, Canadian knit blogger extraordinaire. She gives talks on knitting, such as "This is Your Brain on Knitting" and teaches knitting classes all around the country. She along with Tina of Blue Moon Fiber Arts are the hive minds behind the Sock Summit knitting convention.
You could call her our fearless knitting leader, but she would probably scoff and refuse the title. However, she was the only one able to breathe sanity into the hoards of knitters upset with the US Olympic Committee when they stopped Ravelry from holding the Ravelympics and made them rename the Ravelympics to something boring like The 2012 Games.
The Yarn Harlot is the knitter with the most influence and authority in North America, if not the world. She speaks the truth about knitters and celebrates their idiosyncrasies -especially the things that non knitters would consider crazy. This helps knitters themselves realize that they are not alone in their knitting challenges. It makes knitters feel ok going completely insane trying to find that missing sock needle or re-knitting that sleeve for the fifteenth time.
She embraces knitting excellence whether it's in well-designed and thoughtfully tech-edited knitting patterns, or encouraging knitters to tackle difficult skills in the first knitting Olympics in 2006. She is the author of many knitting books that support and expand the 21st century knitting community. If you want to understand this latest wave of hand-knitting in popular culture all you need do is read the entire oeuvre of the Yarn Harlot.
This is the book that started it all, a book of humorous knitting confessions that prove that it's not crazy to be so passionate about knitting. This is a book for beginning and longtime knitters. The beginners will learn to avoid the mistakes that the Yarn Harlot makes and the long time knitters will rejoice in the shared experiences of knitting catastrophes.
The shorter version of Secret Life of a Knitter in little fun-size quotable bites. This is the book to have when you are having some serious knitting trouble and need to laugh.
This is a great book for beginner knitters. If you want to know the easiest ways to knit hats and socks, understand stash management and your local yarn shop this is the book for you. It's a learn to knit book and knitting culture book all rolled into one. This is the best book to keep in your knitting bag in case you need a simple knitting pattern.
This book is the most focused on knitting culture. Why do knitters do what they do and where do they go to do it. This is the book on knitting travel, yarn conventions, knitting politics, knitting heroes and more.
Knitting as the great personal educator. This is a continuation of the essays from The Yarn Harlot's first book Secret Life of a Knitter.
Stephanie writes stories from the perspectives of all the different roles of the knitter, the beginning knitter, the experienced knitter, the frustrated knitter, the knitting author, and even the gift knitter. This is a book about what happens to knitters when left to their own devices.
This is the Yarn Harlot's latest book and some say her darkest. If you've read her blog you'll know that she's faced many challenges in the last couple of years and this book isn't nearly as light as her previous efforts. This is a good thing and represents growth on the part of the writer. If you want to meditate on how to use knitting to push through difficult times this is the book for you.
If you're a beginning knitter buy these three books and you'll be well on your way to being a part of the knitting community (and maybe even avoid a noobie knitting mistake or two in the process):
If you're having a rough time with your knitting:
Do you remember when you first learned to knit? Do you remember how it soon became an all consuming passion where you had to know all the things about knitting? Do you remember how intimidating it was to first enter a community of knitters? When you learn to knit, you're not just learning a new skill you're learning a new way of living. That's why we've created The New Knitters Guide. It's a resource for new knitters to share everything they need to know about knitting culture so that they're not totally clueless at the yarn shop or at their first knit night.
If you're new to knitting and you want to know what the heck all of those other knitters are talking about, like who is the Yarn Harlot, or what exactly makes a yarn snobby and what is this ravelry thing that everyone keeps talking about then check out out New Knitters Guide.
Here's a sample of the articles you'll find:
Have you been knitting a long time? What knitting secrets do you wish you had known in the beginning?
If you're looking for a hobby, you could do a lot worse than knitting. You often hear of people always wanting to learn how to knit, but it seeming too complicated or not being coordinated enough. This is hogwash. Anyone can learn how to knit, but how do you know if it's an appropriate hobby for you?
Knitting isn't filmmaking. You don't need a crew to knit a sweater. Knitting is something you do by yourself. Sure, you can knit a block with a bunch of other knitters to contribute to a blanket, but you don't need anyone else to do the actual knitting. You don't need someone sitting next to you to get gauge. You can always knit with other people if you like being social.
Knitting requires needles and yarn. That's it. It's more portable than quilting or sewing or painting. It doesn't make such a big mess. Other people don't get distracted when you knit. You can knit in line, in a waiting room, on the train, on the airplane or during classes.
A successful knitting project requires that you're able to follow instructions or get to know the rules of knitting well enough so that you can make changes to any knitting pattern without causing disaster.
To knit, you have to be able to count stitches, measure lengths, multiply to change sizes and keep track of the number of rows that you knit, not to mention any pattern repeats. If that sounds like too much work for you maybe you should take up bird watching.
Have you ever loved a color so much that you wanted to own anything you could in that one unique shade, even if it was just a dustpan? Imagine being able to work with that one color for hours, weeks or months, feeling it slip through your fingers as it knits into your new favorite scarf, sweater, or even socks? Knitting allows you to create a physcial manifestation of your favorite colors and textures that you can wear. If you don't want to wear your color, then maybe painting is a better fit for you.
If you don't like wool, no need to worry. There's still silk, cotton, rayon, bamboo -many different kinds of yarns to try and thousands of projects to knit with them.
Knitting will teach you a great many things, but first and foremost it will teach you patience and perseverance. The first time you cast on stitches for your first scarf (it's almost always a scarf) you will encounter difficulties. Your stitches will be too tight. You will accidentally add and lose stitches. It may drive you crazy (One knitting book is called Knitting Without Tears for a reason), but you feel a sense of accomplishment when you master your first knitted stitches and watch your scarf growing longer with every row.
Knitting doesn't just make pretty objects, which are fine in and out of themselves, knitting makes useful objects; items that keep you and your house warm. If anything, knitting makes practical things more interesting. Suddenly you want to have a million pairs of socks, especially if you knit them yourself. You start looking forward to cold weather so that you have an excuse to wear everything you've ever knit.
So if you've been thinking of taking up knitting you might have a stronger impression as to whether or not it might work for you. If you think you want to learn how to knit, check out our learn to knit page and discover knitting kits, tutorials and books.
It's a little overwhelming to be a new knitter. So much information to absorb; a million beautiful knitting patterns that all seem too difficult to try. The other knitters in your life seem to speak another language with such ease you can't help but be a bit envious. Take it easy on yourself, soon enough you'll be your own knitting expert. It just takes a little bit of time and practice. Here's a couple of knitting secrets to make you feel a little more at home in the knitting world -and avoid some of those newbie knitting mistakes.
All you need to do is learn how to knit in the round, find a simple sock pattern and get to it. You'll be amazed how addictive it is to have a pair of socks to work on. Here are a couple of sock books to get you on your way. And some sock yarn that will be difficult to resist. Craftsy also has a great beginner sock knitting class.
You wouldn't know it, but those exquisite cables are simply stitches that are twisted around each other. You use a little cable needle to place them in front or behind your work as your knitting. Hello Yarn's Besotted Scarf is the perfect way to learn how to cable knit. It's one of my all time favorite scarves. Made up of little x's and o's to surround your loved ones with hugs and kisses.
You can go to a knitting convention. There, you'll learn tons of new techniques, meet fellow knitters, discover amazing yarns all in one weekend. Plus they're usually in a comfy hotel so you can have a little knitting vacation. There's the Stitches conferences, Interweave Knits' Knitting Labs, and Vogue Knitting Live events.
Needles have a special way of disappearing, just when you need them the most. Plus, sometimes you knit differently with different needle types. Aluminum needles are great when you want a quick, smoth knit, bamboo and wood when you feel like having a little more traction. Plus, you may need the same size needle for multiple projects so maybe you do need 5 pairs of size 8's. There are a million ways to stock up on lots of needles. Ebay usually has "lots" of vintage knitting needles. You can also get a set of interchangeable knitting needles to have everything you need in one set.