Putting Stitches on Knitting Needles Correctly + Why It Matters

Have you ever tried putting stitches on knitting needles, then noticed that something just wasn’t right? Maybe it felt weird when you tried to knit those stitches, or maybe you noticed that the row looked a little funny. That could be because when you were putting stitches on knitting needles, you didn’t mount the stitch properly.

Whether you’re ripping out your work or just transferring live stitches to a stitch holder, putting stitches on knitting needles the right way is pretty important.

Here’s a look at how the stitches should sit on your needles, plus what it looks like when they’re sitting the wrong way.

Knitting stitches mounted the right way

Stitches mounted the correct way on the needle

Why you’d need to put stitches on your needles

Live stitches

It’s painful, but sometimes we need to unravel stitches to go back and correct a mistake. If that’s the case, you’ll probably have some live stitches that are not on the needle and need to be slipped back on there. In that case, it’s important that you know which direction to put the stitches when they go back on the needle.

Stitches being held on waste yarn

Stitches held on waste yarn, ready for pick up later when the sleeve is worked

Transferring from a stitch holder

When we’re knitting some projects, like sleeves on a sweater, the pattern might ask us to put some stitches on a holder or waste yarn. Check out the example above from the Lace Wedge Yoke Sweater I made in Choose Your Own Sweater Adventure with Eunny Jang. I held some stitches for the sleeves on waste yarn, worked the body of the sweater, then went back and picked up the stitches around the arm to knit the sleeve. When I did that, it was important that I put the stitches onto the needle facing the right direction. (You’ll see why later!)

How the stitches should sit

Think of a stitch as having two legs. When the stitch is facing you, the leg on the right side of the stitch should sit over the front of the needle. The leg on the left side of the stitch hangs out behind the needle.

Here’s how they look when they’re sitting properly. Notice that the right leg of the stitch is in front of the needle.

Knitting stitches mounted the right way

And here’s how they look when they’re not sitting properly. Check out how the left leg is sitting in front of the needle when it should be sitting behind the needle.

Stitches mounted the wrong way

What happens when they don’t sit properly

So how do you know if your stitches are sitting properly? One way you’ll know is that when you try to knit, the needle won’t go from front to back quite as easily. It will probably feel a little awkward.

Knitting with stitches mounted the wrong way

If you worked that awkward row of twisted stitches, you might notice later on that the row looks a little different than the other rows.

Check out the swatch below. I’ve used gray lines to show you the row where the stitches were twisted. See how the Vs in the stitch are twisted at the bottom, unlike the other rows?

Close up of stitches mounted wrong way in the row

How to correct stitches sitting the wrong way

Fixing the stitches is simple. Just slip the stitch from your left needle to your right needle, untwisting it as you move it, then slip the stitch purlwise back to the left needle again. Then just knit the stitch as usual.

Continue this across the row, untwisting the stitches before knitting them.

Want to learn even more about troubleshooting your knitting problems?

Check out Essential Techniques Every Knitter Should Know with Sally Melville. Sally will show you everything from the best increases and decreases for your project to picking up stitches. You’ll be able to use these techniques in any knitting project!

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Do you have any tricks for fixing twisted stitches? We’d love to hear them!

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