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Dear Patty,

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.



Dear Karen,

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!

About The Author

Patty Lyons is a nationally recognized knitting teacher and technique expert. In her pursuit of training the mindful knitter, Patty is known for teaching the “why” in addition to the “how.” She specializes in sweater design and sharing her love of the much-maligned subjects of gauge and blocking.

You can find Patty at her website and on Ravelry.

Do you have a problem you’d like Patty to tackle? Write to her at



  • Brilliant and so simple! Thank you!

  • Oh, I sure could have used this when I started the baby blanket I am working on. I dropped a stitch in my long tail cast on when I was knitting my first round of 190 stitches and started over for the fourth time. THANK YOU. Now I won’t have to do that again.

    • Thank you!

    • This is absolutely brilliant.
      Love you, Patty.
      I had tried to do this myself, but had never figured out which thread went on top, or which way to twist.
      I’ve frogged a few, and hoped no one looked too closely at others.

    • Between THIS and the ABSOLUTELY BEST EVER Kitchener tutorial you’re an absolute salve for the knitter. Thank you!

  • You, Patty Lyons, are a genius! Thank you!

  • O. M. G. This is so simple and so BRILLIANT! I love you, Patty Lyons. ❤️

  • Wow! This is brilliant! So grateful for this information!

    • Thank you for figuring out how to fix this. Staring at the dropped stitch did not help.

  • This alone, Patty, puts you in the knitting Hall of Fame. (My poor lazy brain hasn’t tried it yet, but I know where to find it when I need it. Here, plus your book – pp. 78-81) Chloe

  • Of course! It’s totally logical! Isn’t structure wonderful? Thanks Patty.

  • excellent instruction and example… THANK YOU!

  • Patty, you are a genius. I will be using this technique often. It will be especially useful in my work with new knitters. Thank you.

  • Cool! Cool! Cool!

    • Thank you! Brilliant! Now I want to drop a cast on stitch just for fun!

      • LOL, exactly!

  • Love your sense of humor and you got it right, “shouting obscenities and screaming” My husband even asked me several times, “Frankie, why do you even knit?”

  • Life saver. ❤️

  • I love Patty Lyons! Do you think, if I get on my knees and beg, she will do this type of instruction for the twisted knitted (German?) cast on? It’s my favorite cast on (no yarn tail chicken) and I’ve tried to figure out how to repair a dropped cast on stitch, but the beautiful cast on edge didn’t look right after what I came up with.

  • You are a genius …thank you so much!

  • Love the clarity of Patty’s explanations, as well as her sense of humor! I am “knitting” my way through her book, swatch by swatch. It’s such a valuable resource.

  • Been knitting for decades…. once you explained this ‘fix’ it’s so obvious I don’t know why I never saw it all along — can’t thank you enough for this stress easing article…

  • Thank you-usually happens on my last stitch.

  • I will definitely use this hint. Patty is brilliant.

  • I wish I had seen this a few days ago when I dropped TWO cast on stitches from my baby blanket! I muddled through a fix, but your explanation is crystal-clear!

  • This makes so much sense! As usual, Patty makes something that seems so confounding so simple. Thank you!

  • ‍♀️oh duh. I figured there had to be some way to do this but I was usually to panicked, irritated or mad to stop and think it through. Thanks Patty!

  • You’re an angel! Blessings sprinkled all over you.

  • what a wonderful skill to have. Thank you

  • As I have long thought Patty, you are a genius, and you help us all become a little smarter and less frustrated. Love it! You are my heroine!

  • Patty is awesome. She makes things that baffle me so simple. Thank you, Patty.

  • Thank you! I’ve always gotten a crochet hook out for even just one dropped stitch – this is sooo much easier.

  • You always give the knitting angels something to sing about! Thank you for sharing your knowledge once again.

  • Bravo!

  • Is this in your book? I’ve been waiting for my birthday to buy a copy, but this wisdom needs to be on my bookshelf now.

    • It sure is!

  • Genius! I’ve always just ripped it out and started over.

  • Love you.

  • Aha! Very helpful.

    However, my very favorite Patty tip/hack is the one move ssk. I cannot believe I did it slipping knitwise, slipping purlwise, and God knows what else. One move and done. It’s been a game changer.

  • I definitely saved this!! Thank you so much.

  • ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?!?! You just made my day! Patty, you always just make such good sense of all the things knitting!!

  • I just love the way you explain things – so clearly that sometimes I wonder “why didn’t I see that?” Thanks again Patty!

  • Brilliant!! Thank you.

  • Eternal thanks for this one!

  • I love this! Thank you so much for freeing me from the tyranny of that first cast-on row. I always had to begin over again. Never again!!

  • Love the instructions! And your quote from “A Christmas Story”, one of my favorite movies.

  • What would I need to change to rescue a twisted german cast on stitch?

  • Great video! Thank you! This should save me LOTS of time and frustration with myself for dropping that CO stitch.
    I never thought to put the dropped stitch on needle when laddering up, that looks like it would make it easier.

  • This is not in reference to the dropped stitch, but when you are doing a lot of stitches using the long tail cast on, you can use two skeins of yarn and you will never run out of the long “tail”.

    • Yes! That is what I do. Far easier to weave in one extra end than estimate the tail length and have it be too short… several times (me)! Mind, if you are using wool (not superwash) or alpaca, you can “spit and spin” extra yarn onto the tail if you need more.

      • Splice! I meant “spit and splice!”

  • Yay!! Thank you.

  • Thank you thank you thank you!

  • Amazing! Love this!


  • You make it look so simple and when I follow your video even I can do it. Thank you

  • Patty is a genius and I am so grateful she shares it with us.

  • Brilliant!! A bright star in the knitting firmament. Thank you!

  • Wow! Unbelievable! You never cease to amaze me! I would always redo the whole process.
    Thank you.

  • Brilliant! I knew there would be a way, but I couldn’t figure it out.

  • Genius, I tell ya…GENIUS!!!

  • Patty, you are genius. And thank you so so much for the video! I don’t always get still photos so having a video is amazing!

  • Thank you! If only I had seen this a couple of days ago! Thankfully I only had to recast 112 stitches for a neckline, but now I’m prepared for my next catastrophe.

  • So Cool!

  • Brilliant! Thank you!

  • Great tip and wonderful video. Patty explains and shows knitty situations so beautifully. Thank you.

  • This is so clear and helpful – I’m delighted to have found you. Thank you.

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