Crochet Techniques

Knitting 911: How to Neaten Up a Sloppy Knit Edge Stitch

Every now and then, our Craftsy members write to us with the knitting problems that are driving them nuts. One common issue? A messy knit edge stitch.

One of our Craftsy members asks: “The first stitch in every row is loose and sloppy. What did I do wrong and how do I fix it?”

Sloppy knit edge stitches

There are many ways to remedy a sloppy knit edge stitch. There are even a few solutions that might help out our more seasoned knitters.

If you like these tips for better knitting, you’ll love Save Our Stitches: Fixing Knitting Mistakes. Learn more about this online video class here.

Check out four of go-to ways to neaten a messy knit edge stitch, and be sure to add your tips to the comments to help out!

Solution 1: Tighten

This solution might seem obvious to everyone except beginning knitters. Before you try anything else, be conscious about giving your first and last stitches of each row an extra tug before continuing to knit. Sometimes those first and last stitches are loose simply because we don’t tighten them before moving on.

Here’s how:

After you knit that very first stitch of the row, give that yarn a tug and hang on to it while you’re knitting the second stitch.

When you reach the end of the row, check the last stitch before and after turning to make sure it didn’t loosen. Pull the yarn tightly before beginning the next row.

Solution 2: Slip the first stitch.

Slipped Stitch Swatch

This is one of the simplest solutions: Just slip the first stitch of each row. Slipping will stretch the edge stitches out over two rows, getting rid of any loose ends and sloppy edges that you may see.

Here’s how:

For right-side rows, slip the first stitch with the yarn in front. For wrong-side rows, slip the first stitch with the yarn in back. Always slip the stitch purl-wise so you don’t twist the stitches. This way, you end up with a neat, tidy edge that looks the same on the front and the back.

Not sure how to slip a stitch? Read more about slipped stitches here.

Solution 3: Chained Edge

Slipped first stitch

Even if your pattern asks you to work in, say, stockinette stitch, you can customize the pattern to make a chained edge. This will result in a nice, neat braid that runs up and down each side of your knitting. It’s a great technique to use on scarves and other flat knitting projects to give it an even edge.

Here’s how:

Right side rows: Slip the first and last stitch purl-wise with the yarn in front.

Wrong side rows: Knit the first stitch of the row through the back loop. Knit the last stitch of the row.

Solution 4: Two-stitch I-cord

Two-Stitch I-Cord Edging

In garter stitch, the super simple two-stitch I-cord gives a really polished look.

Here’s how:

Knit to the last two stitches. Slip the last two stitches purl-wise with the yarn in front. Turn the work, and knit as normal. (It may seem like the yarn is in an odd place, but that’s how it keep the edge so neat.)

The Knitter’s Guide to No-Fuss Finishing

A Knitter’s Guide to No-Fuss Finishing

Learn essential finishing techniques you can use to bring out the true beauty in any knitting project.Download for FREE

Did you know Craftsy’s YouTube Channel is full of free, quick video tutorials?

Check out this one on how to knit a scarf, which features top tips for perfectly finished edges from instructor Stefanie Japel.

See more on Craftsy’s YouTube Knitting Channel.

33 Comments

Julia Hennessy

Great tips. I been knitting for years, but never knew these tips. Thanks so much. Julia

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Julia Hennessy

Great tips. I been knitting for years, but never knew these tips. Thanks so much. Julia

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Annette Hutt

thanks for that tip ive been knitting for years too and never knew that. cheers

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Karen Coles

Ingrid – I too was taught to slip the first stitch of a row and I still do it now 🙂

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Karen Coles

Ingrid – I too was taught to slip the first stitch of a row and I still do it now 🙂

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Karen Coles

Ingrid – I too was taught to slip the first stitch of a row and I still do it now 🙂

Reply
Karen Coles

Ingrid – I too was taught to slip the first stitch of a row and I still do it now 🙂

Reply
Karen Coles

Ingrid – I too was taught to slip the first stitch of a row and I still do it now 🙂

Reply
Karen Coles

Ingrid – I too was taught to slip the first stitch of a row and I still do it now 🙂

Reply
Karen Coles

Ingrid – I too was taught to slip the first stitch of a row and I still do it now 🙂

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Karen Coles

Ingrid – I too was taught to slip the first stitch of a row and I still do it now 🙂

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Pat Kilbourn

I used to slip the first stitch but still sometimes had trouble. Then I took the Double-Knitting class with Alistar and he taught me to knit to the end of the row then slip the last stitch purlwise through the back loop with the yarn in front. Turn work yarn is in back. Knit the first stitch and continue with pattern., I very seldom get a loose stitch now.

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Chelcie

I recently discovered this trick as well — it works great!

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Kathleen

I love these little gems. I used to teach embroidery and there were always little bits of information that I’d share with my students and they loved them. Now that I’m knitting like a “mad woman”, I find these ever so helpful as well.

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Kate

i always knit into the back of the first stitch on a knit row and sometimes purl into the back of the stitch on the purl row depending on the weight of yarn I am using. Makes it easier to sew the pieces together later too. Sometimes too depending on the type of item i am knitting I cast on into the back of the stitch especially for sleeves. Then the cuff doesn’t get too loose

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Karen

Hi, am wondering if you can use the chain stitch edge for projects such as baby layettes and shawls? I have a tight tension but always find the beginning and end of my project looking a little blah

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Cheryl

Try this. Work the first 2 stitches, then pull to tighten.

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Bebe

I’m working on the Baker Street Scarf on Knitty and the first row (RS) is K1 P1 and the next is just Knit across. When I finish the last purl, it ends up being really loose, as a result the entire right side of the scarf is loose, but the left side is fine. I tried slipping the first stitch but that isn’t working. Any ideas on how I can fix this? Thanks.

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Kristin

Bebe I am having the same exact problem. I’m wondering what the solution is! My projects are coming out lopsided because one side is loose and the other is fine!

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judy

Consider adding one stitch to your stitch count, so that your ‘k1, p1’ row begins with a slipped stitch and ends with K. (Slip the first stitch purl-wise, purl 1, *k1, p1* repeat across, knit in the back of the last st. For your knit rows, slip the first st purl-wise, knit across, k in the back of the last st.) This should give you a nice chained edge. If you’re concerned about altering the stitch count, consider that it’s only one stitch, which will be only be worked every other row. Unless you’re using a super bulky yarn, it won’t change your scarf width very much.

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GIna

Hello, I find that if I purl first stitch on every row I have a beautiful edge. This might help. 🙂

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Lin Iwaskow

Great tips. Thanks. For what it’s worth, I slip the first stitch knitwise & pearl the last stitch. Makes for a neat edging 🙂

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Beverly Miedema

I always slip the 1st stitch as if to purl and always knit the last stitch. (thanks for the other hints, I’ll give them a try too!)

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Lynne Hales

I always wrap & slip my 1st stitch of every row , keeps edge nice and straight

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Debra

Lynne Hales,
Could you explain exactly how you do that wrap and slip please?
Thank you

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Maddy

I am knitting a baby blanket made of small squares which I will see together. The squares are knitted on the diagonal, so I cast on 3 stitches, increase to 32, switch colours, and decrease back to 3. Keeping my edges neat on the increase is going really well (k1, yo, knit to end of row) and I’m delighted with the finish. However, to decrease again the pattern tells me to k2tog, yo, k2tog, knit to end of row. On these rows I’m ending up with tatty edges. Does anyone have any tips?

I have just taken up knitting again after a long break and I seem to remember being told by my dear old gran to always slip the first stitch of every row to help keep edges neat. However, the fact that I need to k2tog at the start of each row here means that won’t work.

Thanks in advance for any hints or tips!

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Maddy

*Sew together (not see together)!

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Betty

Hi Maddy,
For those diagonal pieces, I generally K2, yo, knit to end of row on the increase side.
Then for the decrease side, I usually K2, yo, K2tog, K2tog, knit to end of row.
This forms a ‘pattern’ where the yo’s fall at the same place regardless of an increase side or a decrease side. This also allows for slipping that first stitch (or other types of ‘first stitch options’) if you want to do that. (Also allows for slipping the last stitch options if desired.)
Since you’re already into a project where you K1, yo, knit to end of row for the increases, you could K1, yo, K2tog, K2tog for the decrease side.
Hope this helps.

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Heather Hough

I discovered another amazing use for a crochet hook. I knit constantly while someone else is driving. Calms my nerves. 🙂 The problem was I would frequently loose my cabling needle. On such an occasion I was desperately trying to find something to use as a substitute and found a crochet hook in my purse. It is amazing! So easy to get the stitches on and when you drop it the hook prevents the stitches from coming off then you just knit off the end without the hook. Best accidental discovery I have ever had!

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Jenny

for cabling I use a large darning needle attached to the end of the cast on wool, slip the sts on to it, then back onto the LH needle to knit after the 1st part of the cable. Yes there is a little fussing with the sts to put them back on the needle, but the cable needle doesn’t get lost.

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Ella

These useful tips are great and are even better if you read the comments.

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Kristin

How do you change colors with these techniques? For example, I am knittting a color-tipped scarf in a simple garter stitch, there are two color changes in it–each tip. How can I neaten the garter stitch edge with one of these techniques but still change color at the beginning of a right-side row?

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Miya

I am using the 2-stitch i-cord tip for a garter-stitch scarf, but I am not sure how to change colors using this method. Can anyone help point me towards a tutorial?

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