Making Yarn Overs and Picking up Dropped Stitches. Learn to Knit for Beginners – Lesson 5

Welcome back to my Learn to Knit for Beginners course.  In this lesson we’re going to explore some of the reasons you may have ended up with a greater or fewer number of stitches.  When you didn’t intend to!  In particular we are going to look at making a yarn over accidentally.  I’ll also show you how to pick up a dropped knit stitch

If you’ve missed them, you can find the Introduction to this Learn to Knit course here.  In Lesson 1 and Lesson 2 We’ve been learning how to knit and purl and put them together to make some simple knitted textures.

In Lesson 3, we learned how to read a knitting pattern and put it into practice on this Free Knitted Scarf Pattern. In Lesson 4, we looked at how to correct tension issues and how to “knit back”.

Hopefully you will have been practising the “knit-back” technique I showed you in Lesson 4.  You will need this technique for this lesson too!

So here we go…

Increases and Decreases

There are times when you do want to intentionally increase or decrease the number of stitches.  For example to make something wider or narrower.

There are many different ways to do this. Fundamentally they involve either adding a new stitch to the row (increase) or removing a stitch from a row (decrease).

Knitting patterns will tell you which type of increase or decrease to use for that specific pattern.  For the moment though, lets look at accidental changes in the number of stitches!

Ending up with more stitches than you started with

There are a few reasons that you might be ending up with more stitches.

It’s REALLY annoying (I know from experience) to get to the end of the row and find out you have accidentally got more stitches than you started with!

The main ones that you might be doing are as follows…

Knitting into the first stitch twice

It’s easy to accidentally pull the yarn up an over the needle in a way which makes the first stitch look like two stitches.   Knitting into both of these “stitches” will mean that you increase the number of stitches on your needle.


If you look carefully though, the yarn has been pulled over the needle


This is a simple one to fix though, just make sure the yarn is in the right place before you start knitting.


Making a yarn Over

A “yarn-over” creates a hole in your work.  Unlike a dropped stitch, it doesn’t ladder.

making a yarn over

There will be times that you intend to make holes in your work.  When knitting a “lace-knitting” pattern, you will make a yarn over to create holes to make a pattern.

For example, in this shawl below, I’ve used yarn-overs to create a mesh pattern of holes.

Jo Creates Knitted Shawl

However, it’s another annoying one when you don’t intend to do it!!

Because its easier to explain in person, I’ve made this video to show you the steps for making a yarn over intentionally.  I’ll also show you how you may be making a yarn over unintentionally and how to fix them if you are!

Knitting into the same stitch twice

Another way that you might be accidentally adding more stitches to your row is knitting into the same stitch twice.

In all the excitement, you may have accidentally forgotten to pull the old stitch off the left-hand needle.  This might have meant that you knitted the same stitch twice, creating two stitches where there was originally only one.


If you don’t spot this and knit the same stitch again, it will look like this…


It’s another easy one to fix!  Just knit (“tink”) back and then un-knit this stitch too, then you will have one, ready to knit properly! 🙂


Check-out Lesson 4, which has more information on how to knit back across a row.

Ending up with fewer stitches than you started with

You may also be ending up with fewer stitches than you started with.  This is almost an easier one to spot than increasing stitches (I think anyway!)

Again, there are a few reasons that this might be, but the most likely one will be that you have (somewhere) dropped a stitch.

What is a dropped stitch and how is it different to a yarn-over?

I spoke above about making a yarn over.  They are different from dropped stitches because a dropped stitch isn’t “fixed” and will ladder!


If you spot a dropped stitch, no matter where you are in the row, insert something into the loop that is laddering.  a pen, another needle, a crochet hook, anything to stop it unravelling further!


How to pick up a dropped knit stitch

To pick up a dropped knit stitch.  The first thing you need to do is Knit back to the place that you dropped the stitch. Take a look at Lesson 4 for details on how to do this.

When you get  back to the place you need to pick up a dropped knit stitch, you will see that there are a number of “ladders”.  These will show you how many rows the stitch has dropped down.


To pick up a dropped knit stitch, follow these steps:

pick up a dropped knit stitch

Once you have picked up your dropped knit stitch, you will be ready to knit again.

What happens if I need to pick up a dropped stitch on a purl-row?

It is possible to pick up a dropped stitch from either side.  On the purl-side, the process would be reversed though, so that the ladders are in front of the pulled stitch,  not behind.

The easiest thing to do when you are learning though is to purl back to the place you need to pick up a dropped stitch, then turn your work around, so that the knit-side is facing you.  You can then pick up the dropped knit stitch as described above.  Once you have picked up a dropped knit stitch, you can then turn your work back round and carry on purling as normal.

I am here to help!

So that’s it for Lesson 5, hopefully you will now understand a bit more about how to spot and pick up a dropped knit stitch and also how to make sure you aren’t accidentally knitting the same stitch twice, or making a yarn-over (accidentally!).

Join me in Lesson 6, where we’ll look at some simple increase and decrease stitches, for when you want to deliberately change the number of stitches in a row!

Whether you are knitting the pattern I’ve shared, or another pattern, if at any point you have any issues, question, comments, please post them either below in the comments section, or you can find me on facebook here or here. I really am here to help so please don’t struggle in silence. If you are struggling with something, chances are that someone else is too, so think of it as helping them!! 🙂

Please show me how you’re getting on!

I’d really love to see what you’re up and I know you can’t add pictures to the comments on my blog so:

If you’re on facebook – please share them on my facebook page Jo Creates Facebook Page or if you’re sharing them in your own newsfeed, please tag me so I can see what lovely knits and purls you are making!

If you’re on instagram, please post pictures of your knitting practice using the hashtag #learntoknitjocreates.

Jargon Buster

Here is this lesson’s jargon buster!

Decrease technique for reducing a stitch (intentionally)
Dropped stitch a stitch which has fallen off your needles and laddered down
Increase technique for adding a stitch (intentionally)
Tink / tinking a way to knit backwards across a row
Yarn-Over a way to make a hole in knitting which won’t ladder






I'd love to hear your thoughts on this post...please leave comments below!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.