How to Avoid Twisted Stitches in Knitting


In most knitting traditions, the yarn lies across the needle so that the leading edge of the stitch is in front of the needle. If I take this stitch off the needle, you can see that the right edge of the stitch, or the leading edge, was in front and if I knit that stitch the base of the stitch will not be twisted. While there are some knitting styles that have the stitch mounted differently – in other words with the leading edge in back like this – we are going to assume that we are starting with the leading edge in the front. The first way that our stitches might become twisted is by knitting in the back loop. If my stitch is oriented with the leading edge in front and I knit through the back loop, I have twisted the base of the stitch. Let me do that again. This time I’ll hold the yarn with my left hand and knit through the back loop and I get twisted stitches. Do that a couple more times and you can see that the base of the stitch is twisted compared to stitches that were knit in the front or through the front loop. If you are intending to twist a stitch this is the way you do it: you knit through the back loop. There are lots of stitch patterns that call for intentionally twisting a stitch. Another way a stitch can get twisted accidentally is when I drop a stitch and I’m not careful about how I put it back on my needle. Here I’ve dropped a stitch. I’ll take a crochet hook and collect that dropped stitch and put it back on my needle. But what have I done? I have put the leading edge of the stitch across the back of the needle. It’s now the back loop. If I knit my normal way into the front loop, I’ll twist a stitch. Let me take that stitch off. Some of you may already know about putting the stitch on and that it gets twisted and you may be in the habit of taking the stitch off and putting it back on. That’s fine, but you don’t really have to do that. Instead you can just knit through the back loop and prevent the twisted stitch. You get a lot of twisted stitches if you’ve had to rip out your knitting and then you just go and you put it put it back on whichever way they can get on. So sometimes you’ve ripped out a whole row and you come across stitches that look like this. Some of these are mounted (you have to be careful not to split it) .Some of these are mounted with the leading edge and back and some in front. So if you’ve ripped out a row and you’ve just gone back and picked up the stitches, pay careful attention to how the stitches sitting on the needle. I can see that I need to knit into the back loop on this one to avoid twisting it. Then I can knit into the front loop on this one. It doesn’t matter which hand I hold my yarn with here. I need to knit into the back loop and here I need to knit into the front loop. I’m always knitting into the leading edge, or the right edge of the stitch, to keep it from being twisted. Our third way of accidentally twisting stitches happens way before you’re doing a knit row. How do these stitches get on to the needle in the first place? Here I’m knitting and creating stitches and when I finish this row I’m going to turn around and purl. Those stitches that I just knit over on this needle had been purled before and now I’ve knit the stitches and I’m going to purl. In the knitting traditions you’re probably familiar with, to purl you insert your needle through the front loop from right to left and wrap the yarn around counterclockwise, pull it through and pull the stitch off. Let me do that again. Go in from right to left through the front loop, wrap the yarn counterclockwise. Let me do it with my left hand. Go in, wrap the yarn counterclockwise and pull the stitch through. You may not even realize you’re doing it counterclockwise depending on what style of knitting you’re using. However, if I go in from left to right and wrap the yarn clockwise around the needle, I’ll show you what happens. I’ll do a few more stitches this way and then I’ll do the same thing with my left hand for you continental knitters out there. A lot of continental knitters find it easier to wrap the yarn this way. Now I have pearled a row and I’m ready to knit. When I turn to knit my row look what happened to those stitches that I wrapped counterclockwise. Can you see that the leading edge of the stitch the right edge of the stitch is in the back? If I knit through the front loop you know what’s going to happen. I’m going to get a row of twisted stitches. You’ll also find that this is a little tighter; it’s harder to get your stitches your needle into your stitches this way. Here I have a row of twisted stitches. If you decide you want to wrap your purl stitches this way- in other words clockwise instead of counterclockwise- and you want to avoid twisted stitches. you’ll need to knit into the back loop of those stitches on the next row. Here I have a row set up where I’ve wrapped my purl stitches the other way (or backwards) with the leading edge in the back and in order to keep from twisting the stitches I have to knit through the back loop. This is called combination knitting: when you wrap your purls the other way (backwards) and then knit into the back loop. You still don’t have twisted stitches, but you are creating some other things you need to think about because it will have an effect on your decreases and the way they lean. So just be aware of that if you decide to use combination knitting. You may have noticed by now that all three of these twisted stitch problems happen when you insert your needle in the trailing edge of the stitch, not the leading edge of the stitch. So if you want to avoid twisted stitches just make sure you’re inserting your needle in the right edge of the stitch as you work across the row.