Ask Patty: Dropped Cast-on Stitch!
I’m desperate! I did a long tail cast on for 308 stitches (308!). I was almost done with the first round (which is always tight) and I dropped a cast on stitch. I’m begging you! Please don’t make me do this all over again.
I truly feel your pain. I remember years ago when I was living in Chicago, I tried to cast on 250 stitches. The first time I ran out of tail after 232 stitches. The second time I cast on, joined, and after the first round of lace didn’t work, I counted the stitches and found I only had 246 stitches. Sigh. Finally, I got it on the third try—I counted the stitches three times to make sure, joined, and was happily working round one. Home free … I thought!
Then it happened: the phone rang, I put down my project, and when I picked it back up, I dropped one of the cast-on stitches. I’m fairly sure my screams could be heard in Indiana. Let’s just say I was not that far from Ralphie’s father in A Christmas Story, who “wove a tapestry of obscenity that, as far as we know, is still hanging in space over Lake Michigan.”
As I always say, laziness is the mother of invention. I was NOT going to start again, so after several choice words, a few tears, and some awkward twisting and struggling with a crochet hook, I somehow picked up that dropped stitch.
Years later, when I was calmer, I studied how long tail worked and found the simplest way to fix it. No twisting with my fingers, no crochet hook.
First let’s look at how it’s built.
Long Tail—Knitting a Row
When we work long tail, we have two pieces of yarn—the tail and the ball of yarn—coming off our needle:
When we move our needle to the outside of the thumb yarn to create a twist in that yarn, we are entering a “stitch” with our needle.
When we move our needle over the finger yarn to pull it through the thumb “stitch” we are knitting a stitch.
So that cast on is like a row of knitting.
Case Study: One Dropped Stitch
When we drop one stitch in our knitting, there’s no need for a crochet hook.
We put the dropped stitch back on the left-hand needle, then drape the running thread over the tip of that needle.
Then we lift the stitch over the running thread, and pick up that stitch!
Now Let’s Put It All Together!
When we drop a long tail cast on, we don’t see a stitch, but we see those two pieces of yarn coming off our needle. This is where we take a breath, try not to cry, and remember—we got this!
We know that when we cast on in long tail, we are actually knitting a row. Since it’s easiest to pick up a dropped stitch from the knit side, if you were working flat the first thing you’d do is turn it around to the knit side. If you’re working in the round, we are already on the knit side.
Now, take a look at those two strands. The nearest piece of yarn (the one that was over your thumb when you cast on) is a bit lower and shorter than the one in the back (the one that was over your finger).
Now think about what we do in the long tail cast-on. We put a twist in the front yarn and we pull the back yarn through. All we have to do is match that here. It’s almost like creating a make one.
Step 1: First, let’s put the dropped “stitch” onto our needle. Insert your left needle, top to bottom, between the two strands. Lift the front strand onto your needle with its leading leg (the leg that’s closest to the tip of the needle) to the back.
Step 2: Now it’s time to put our working yarn on the needle. Pick up the back strand and drape it over the tip of your needle. It will almost look like a figure eight.
Step 3: Finally, it’s time to lift our “stitch” over the working yarn to pick up that dropped stitch. With the tip of your right needle, grab the front loop and lift it up and over the back strand!
Do you see the magic? By picking up the front yarn so the leading leg is in the back, we set it up like a make one right. Then by grabbing the trailing leg (the leg farthest away from the tip of the needle) to lift that strand up and over the back strand, we put a twist in the front strand to create our “stitch,” and we lift it over our running thread to restore our dropped stitch!
Finally, make sure to move the picked-up cast-on stitch back onto the correct needle. If working flat, turn your work back around to continue working the row.
Since you all love videos, you’ll find one up top!
Hear the angels sing? No crochet hooks, no awkward twisting loops with our fingers. No letting loose a cloud of obscenities that might hang over Lake Michigan. When we think about how something is built, then it’s easy to fix!