How To Pick-up Stitches—the Cocoknits Way

There are several ways to pick-up stitches. This is the version I use along a stockinette stitch (St st) edge as for a collar or front band of a cardigan.

I use a small (#1, 2 or 3) 36” circ needle to pick up the sts first, then knit them (as opposed to picking up and knitting the sts as I go).  I do this for two reasons:

  1. I like the neatness of it
  2. It allows me to adjust for the correct number of sts before I start to actually knit the collar or front band.

Here’s how I do it:

picking-up stitches 1picking-up stitches 2

See the V which is the end stitch? I’ve outlined it in the second photo.

You are going to insert your little needle through the INSIDE arm of that “V”.  In the photo above it would be the left arm of the “V” …

picking-up stitches 3… as indicated by the green arrow. You do this because if you went into the very outside edge you would wind up with holes and a loosely connected collar.
picking-up stitches 4You are going to pick up “V”s from three rows, then skip the fourth. This will give you the exact proportion of rows to stitches that you need for a collar or front band. This is good to know if you want to deviate from a pattern and add length by adding extra rows. As long as you pick up three rows, skip the fourth, you will wind up with the correct number of sts
picking-up stitches 5Here’s what it will look like once you pick up:

And here it is with more sts picked up:

This will give you the correct amount of sts so when you knit the front band or collar it won’t sag or pull up. It works every time. It also makes for easy counting…just count the clusters of three sts then multiply by three.

And if you do the bias bind off along a shaped neckline, it will be easy to continue picking up that edge V:

picking-up stitches 1picking-up stitches 2

Although the ratio is usually more like 4 sts, skip the 5th. You may be required to pick up one st for each one bound off. Whatever is required, you can sort it all out before you begin to work the collar.

You’ve picked up all along the front edge, around the neckline, the back neck and back down the other side. Now you are ready to knit the first row on the RS. You will notice that the sts will be situated on the needles the right way on one edge, but will seem to be sitting on the needle backwards along the other edge. Along the edge with the backwards sts, simply knit each st through the back loop.

Say you were supposed to have 102 sts along the front edges, but you have 103 on one side and 101 on the other. No problem: as you knit the first row (RS facing) simply k2tog once anywhere on the first edge and pick up one more st along the other edge. You can do the same type of adjusting along the back neck if necessary. Now you have the correct amount of sts and are ready to begin your collar or front band.


  1. GG

    I always struggle with this, so thank you for giving me a visual. I will be trying this soon as my current project calls for picking up quite a few stitches. Wish me luck!

  2. NancyL

    I am FINALLY about to pick up and knit a collar for Veronika – yes, I’m THAT CLOSE – so I’m very glad I checked in here first!

  3. Helene Daniels

    This is not quite the same as Sweater Workshop book shows “pick up and then Knit” where you are picking up in the ladder between stitches. Do you have a demo for that?

    • Marilyn Fogerty

      I need to know more about picking up and knitting the ladder stitches as that is what is called for when starting the right and left shoulder. can I use the method you describe here using the inside of the V or do I have to use the ladder stitches. If it is the ladder do I knit each stitch and how can I tell how many stitches I would begin with so I know how many stitches to decrease?

    • I use the ladder stitches when a really firm pick up is needed – for instance, at the tops of shoulders when creating English Tailored sweaters. I use the V’s when picking up for button-bands – they are not weight-bearing pick ups;-)

    • Amanda Gregory

      I am probably way to late for a reply, as I am just starting to learn the Cocoknit method, but there is a video tutorial on this website for the pick up and knit as the book shows that straightened me out after many tries last night. I wish I had seen that before the frustration set in.

      Take care, Amanda G

  4. Sally Wilson

    My pattern requests to PICK UP MORE stitches than what is in the cast off edge. Please advise on how I do that. Thanks

    • Ugh, I hate when patterns do this;-) I would pick up a stitch for every row in that case, and then in the first knit row, do some kf&b to add stitches. It’s a pain, good luck!!

  5. Sandra Micheals

    Hi, when you pick up the three, skip the fourth it looks like you stop before the end? Is that correct? It looks like you stop about three stitches before the end?

    Also, I hate magic loop? Is there any other way to go around the shoulder sleeve in your book under section 111? i.e. short needles..

    • This tutorial is for picking up stitches along a Front for a button band. It is NOT the pick up for creating the shoulders in the Cocoknits method. For that, refer to the method in the book.

      You aren’t using magic loop in the usual way – it’s just to ease around the corner for the first couple of rows. You’ll be knitting from a circular needle normally after that.

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