Save Your Stitches! How to Add a Lifeline in Your Knitting

A lifeline will hold your stitches in place so if you need to rip back, there’s no chance of losing your work. It’s a great tool to have handy when you’re approaching a tricky section of your project or when you’re trying a technique for the first time.

Lifeline in Lace Knitting

Choosing yarn for your lifeline

The type of yarn you choose can make a big different for your lifeline:

Choosing Yarn for a Lifeline
  • First, you want the yarn to be smooth — save those specialty yarns and fuzzy mohairs for another project.
  • Second, choose a yarn that’s the same weight or thinner than your project yarn. The thinner, the better. (Even dental floss can work!)

How to insert a lifeline

Step 1:

Tapestry Needle for Lifeline

Thread a tapestry needle with a piece of waste yarn. Make sure the working yarn is longer than the tail.

Step 2: 

Threading Lifeline Through knitting


Starting at the beginning of the row or round, slide the needle through the live stitches. Work a few at a time, then pull the waste yarn around.

Note: If you have any stitch markers in your work, move the needle around them, not through them. That way, you can continue moving the stitch markers up your work.

Step 3:

Pull Tail Out Even out tails

When you get to the other side of the work or get back to the beginning of the round, pull the tail out. Then, adjust the ends to be even. You can snip them shorter if you want, or tie the ends together in a bow to keep them out of the way.

Step 4:

Continue working in your pattern, being extra careful not to knit the lifeline in the next row or round.

Marking Lifeline in Pattern

Tip! Don’t forget to mark the placement of the lifeline on your pattern. If you do need to rip back, you’ll know exactly where to pick up again.

How to use your lifeline

If you do need to rip back to the lifeline (it’s OK!), simply rip out your work until the live stitches are on the waste yarn. Then, pick up the live stitches with your needle, and starting knitting again. We’d recommend leaving the lifeline in place, just in case.

How to remove your lifeline

Pulling Out Lifeline

If you find you don’t need the lifeline (hooray!), it’s easy to remove from your work. Simply pull the waste yarn from one end, and it should smoothly slip through the work.

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