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Let’s face it—this year, we’ve all been a bit “on edge,” so to distract ourselves, let’s REALLY explore our edge stitch. (See what I did there?)

Selvedge Salvage

Vera asked me a simple question, and in true Patty fashion, I’m gonna answer things she didn’t even ask first! Buckle up, and let’s dive over the edge! (Ok, I’ll stop now.)

Dear Patty,

Is it possible to drop down on the first stitch of a selvedge edge to change a knitted or purled first stitch of the row to a slip stitch? I am working on a pattern that has a 7-stitch rib as a selvedge for both sides.  I didn’t think about slipping the first stitch of the row when I started, but wish that I had so I’d like to fix that if possible. And, if it is, I wonder if it is feasible to fix the selvedge on all kinds of stitch patterns such as garter stitch and seed stitch.

Thank you,


Dear Vera,

Before we get into fixing or changing the selvedge edge, we need to talk about what a selvedge stitch is there for.

In a seamed knit piece, the selvedge stitch is the one that gets seamed away. This is factored in by the designer so your seamed garment will look seamless. For instance, say it’s a hat with a knit two, purl two rib knit flat. The designer would have the rib start with a k2 and end with a k2 so when you seam it together one knit stitch from each side gets seamed away leaving a perfect k2, p2 rib.

That’s why when a knitter first learns how to knit in the round and looks at a hat that was designed flat and says, “Nuts to you, I’ll knit that in the round,” but does NOT change the cast on number and just follows the pattern as written, she gets a lovely p2, k2, p2, k2, p2, k4 rib. 

What? I didn’t say it was me. Stop laughing, I never said it was me. (It was me.)

But in an unseamed piece, like a shawl or a scarf, the stitches on the edge are seen. It is these exposed edges that often have a special treatment, like a slipped stitch edge. When you slip the first stitch of every row, you’re moving the stitch from one needle to the other without pulling the new yarn through it. This causes an elongated stitch at the edge that covers two rows.

BUT if your piece is going to be seamed, then a slip stitch edge will not be lovely.

For many knitters (me included) a slipped stitch edge makes our mattress stitch look less than wonderful.

First, the slack of the elongated stitch also affects the way the second stitch looks, a bit large and sloppy.

Second, since the edge stitch travels over two rows, the running bars do not come out of each row, but rather two running bars occupy the same space. This means over 10 rows, you will basically have 5 spots to put your seaming yarn.

Keeping the edge stitch in stockinette make a much neater edge. Here, even going under two bars at a time, the seaming is much neater.

And here they are, a seamed slip stitch edge and a seamed stockinette stitch edge.

Slipped Stitch Selvedge edge (Left) and Stockinette selvedge edge (RIGHT)

Best rule of thumb is, if it’s a finished edge, make it pretty, but if you’re going to do something to that edge, like seam or pick up stitches, don’t add a slip stitch edge—stick to the pattern.

So now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, back to your questions.

First, can you drop down to create a slipped stitch edge. Well, not without a lot of slack. 

Let’s look at that edge stitch and how it works. We know when we drop an edge stitch and we see those giant loops of yarn, that it can cause us to scream and toss our project to the floor in horror as if it was something out of The Exorcist.

Here below we have a plain old ugly, but sturdy, stockinette edge. That last stitch always looks kind of weird (that’s the technical term) because it’s the only time in knitting that our yarn exits a stitch, and then, when we turn our work around, it doubles back and goes right back in the same loop that it just formed. 

On the right you see that I’ve dropped the edge stitch down 6 rows and I have three big loops. That’s because the bottom of the loop is the stitch from one row, and the top of the loop is from the row above it. 

It’s helpful first to understand how we pick up that big loop in stockinette before we discuss the slipped stitch selvage. Since the bottom of the loop is one row and the top of the loop is the row above it, you’ll be laddering up both ends of the loop, top and bottom.

First, hanging on to that big scary loop so it doesn’t go anywhere, insert your crochet hook into the dropped stitch with hook facing up:

Keep hanging on to that loop while you ladder up the bottom of it for one row, and the top of it for the next row:

Lather, rinse, repeat for every giant loop. Here’s a little silent video for your enjoyment

So, I think you may be ahead of me here. When you have a stockinette edge stitch, that giant loop is formed from the amount of yarn you used to work the last stitch of the row and the first stitch of the next row. But when you work only the last stitch of the row and then you slip that first stitch without pulling yarn through it, you will have a much smaller loop.

Here I’ve dropped down that stockinette edge again, but this time I ladder up that giant loop like it was one stitch. Ah, so far so good you think, looks like a slipped stitch selvage:

But when I ladder up a few more, you can see that edge would be much too big and floopy (again, that’s the technical term).

So, if you had gone only a few rows, and if the piece was wide enough to redistribute the slack across the whole piece, then you might be able to drop down a few rows and change to slipped stitch edge. But if you drop down too many rows, you get a big sloppy edge.

The Winner’s Edge

BUT, wait, there’s more (RIP Ron Popeil). Vera, you also asked if you could drop a stitch and rebuild an edge in garter or seed. To that I say: hecks to the yeah!!

Since seed stitch is knit-the-purls and purl-the-knits, and since the garter stitch presents as alternating rows of knits and purls, the instructions are the same. The secret here is to look at the base of the last completed stitch to see if it was a knit or a purl so you know what you need to ladder up next.

Here, the last complete stitch is a knit (see the smooth V), so I know the first stitch I have to ladder up is a purl.

Remember, when we purl, our yarn is in front, so this means I have to put the bottom of the loop in front of the stitch.

Insert your crochet hook in front of the giant end loop, and from back to front through the dropped stitch, and with hook facing down. Then grab that loop with your crochet hook and pull it through to ladder up your purl, and you’ll find that your hook is now facing up, ready to ladder up a knit.

You can go seamlessly from picking up a purl to a knit this way, but now you’d have to remove the hook, move the next bottom loop in front of the stitch and repeat. I know what you’re thinking, “There’s got to be a better way!”

(In the voice of Ron Popeil) There is! Meet the double-ended crochet hook!

After you ladder up your knit, you’ll insert your crochet hook bottom to top into the giant loop. 

Now here’s where the magic happens: slide to the other end of the hook and move that big loop (that will be your purl) to the front of the stitch on your hook. Now, notice how you are in the exact same position as the single-sided hook was. Ready to pick up your purl with hook facing down, and then into your knit, with hook facing up.

And ta da: garter edge!

I know, I know, I hear you, stop with the pictures and give us a video. Here’s a little silent video that might help:

So before you change an edge, consider: Is it a finished edge, or are you going to do something to it? If it’s your finished edge, then make it pretty. If it’s not, then make it functional. After all, who cares what it looks like underneath your seam!

Patty in your Pocket

Here’s how to save this article in your MDK account with one click.

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



  • Just when I think I know so much about knitting Patty explains something new(to me at least)! Sometimes when ripping back the edge stitch doesn’t look right. Definitely saving this article for future reference. Thanks!

  • This article just changed my life! Major “aha” moments throughout. It’s amazing how understanding the ‘why’ clarifies everything! Thank you.

  • Simply brilliant. My early morning brain is spinning, but I have already saved this article for the future. So when is that book of Ask Patty tips and tricks coming out?

    • Yes – a book please! With an ebook option so I can easily link to the videos

      • I’m working with my amazing publisher (David and Charles) to offer an ebook that will link to some videos!! We are hoping to also offer a bundle to get the print book and ebook together.

        • Oh that would be terrific! I use my book as a reference guide & my e-book copy for videos which help me to visualize my knitting & patterns better.
          I can’t wait to have your wonderful ideas in book form. You are a wonderful & humorous teacher!!

    • Since you asked . . . Fall of 2022! I’m working hard on it right now to get the manuscript into my publisher by December!!

      • Oops you did it again; another great tip Patty! Ahh I see a book signing session in Affiknity 2022…

      • Fantastic!!! When I teach knitting I to like to cover the why. Three things — what, how, and why. You do a outstanding job of all. I am really looking forward to your book.

  • I have been working on laddering down to fix stitches within a piece, but I’ve been holding off on figuring out the edges because they seemed so scary and just did not make sense to me. Then Patty comes along and makes it all so clear!

  • I love this and now have to find a double ended crochet hook! I never knew there was such a thing and must have all tools.

    • Hello Patty,
      Thank you so much for these great explanations and videos! I’m knitting a shawl with garter sections and lace sections with kfb increases at the beginning and at end of the rows. I slip the first stitch, then kfb, knit across to last 2 stitches, kfb, k1 and get a beautiful chain edge stitch in the garter sections. Unfortunately not in the lace sections as I purl the WS and I would like to get the same result. I would be grateful for any tips.
      Thank you,

      • If the edge is garter, then you’ll be knitting those edge stitches. Take a look at the pattern. It might define your edge once as slip the first stitch of every row and knit the edge stitches.

        But it’s hard for me to do pattern support for someone else’s pattern (since I can’t see it and don’t know what they have in mind) so it’s best to reach out to the publisher directly.

        • Thank you for replying!
          It is a free pattern. You’re right, I will try to contact the Designer.
          Thanks you

    • KnitPicks has a set of 4 double-ended crochet hooks. 8 sizes of hooks. With yarn needles in a plastic case. Very nice.

  • You’ve done it again! Thank you!!

  • Although my brain cannot comprehend all of your fabulous explanations, I am so glad to learn that weird and floopy are technical terms. Thanks for the morning chuckles!!

  • Thank you thank you thank you Patty I have been teaching my husband to knit and he keeps dropping that first stitch and leaving huge loops at the end that I didn’t know how to pick up so I made home frog it each time. NOW I know and will teach hine to do it! Brilliant as always!

  • It’s like you read my mind—I’ve gotten very good at reading my knitting and fixing mistakes, but I always get confused on the edge stitches, especially figuring out which way the loop should go back on the needle. Your videos make it so much clearer! I had been meaning to just sit down with a swatch and unravel—I still want to do that to really get it in my head, but your videos will make it so much easier! When I have to drop down a slip-stitch edge, I’m usually just looking at the rows below to see which way the v should go so I know how to twist the loop, but I don’t always get it right.

  • Brilliant! Have always feared messing with a finished edge stitch that needed changing as I couldn’t wrap my brain around the mechanics. As always you have unraveled the mystery and make this look possible.
    Cannot wait for your book!!

  • Patty is just the best! Everything I wanted to know and MORE!

  • This is so clever – thank you for so clearly explaining how to fix a ratty edge (instead of my customary fix: ignore it).

  • What a great explanation! Thank you.

  • Your ability to follow that yarn wherever it goes and have a word for that place continuously BOGGLES. MY. MIND. Such as it is.

    I’m SOOOOOOO disappointed I didn’t go to the Affiknity retreat this year. Is it always so star spangled?? Also my friend Hilary from Alaska was there and it would have been a nice chance to catch up. Does it happen every year?

    • Every year. Hilary was the BEST. Save the date for 9/8/22

  • Genius! I just ripped back several rows because I couldn’t handle this problem. And now I know what the double-end crochet hook is for!

  • Patty, my brain thanks you for this article! I have always had trouble with edge stitches when I tink or frog, not knowing how to orient that edge stitch. Working the top and the bottom of the stitch – wow! The videos along with your brilliant explanations helps me see it so clearly. Article saved, and looking forward to that book!

  • Thanks, Patty, for the clarity.
    Here is my pattern for a finished edge: I knit to the end of the row, bring yarn to the front, slip the last stitch as if to purl, turn the work, and knit the first stitich in the back. Makes a great, smooth edge.

  • Thank you I have always had trouble if I drop the first stitch. When you explained it all made sense.

  • Patty, you make me laugh out loud! Educational AND amusing!

  • OMG! I have been knitting forever. Every time I rip back I have one unsightly edge stitch. Over the years I’ve learned to do all kinds of things with it to tighten it up. Now I know why. And what to do with it. Thank you Patty! Freaking game changer!

  • Brilliant article. If I’d understood everything I’ve learned in this article before, I could have saved myself lots of ripping back in a project. Thanks, Patty!

  • This is awesome Patty — I have done all of the above (mistakes and corrections) in a kind of instinctual way and to have it clearly explained and illustrated was wonderful.

  • As someone who has always slipped stitches for seams, regardless of pattern, I feel called out. Thank the gods for wrong sides. XD

    Also, dropping the edge for garter and slipped? I didn’t think this existed! Thanks!

  • Thank you, Patty! I’m always terrified if something goes wonky with the edge stitch – now I feel like I could fix it! And now I also know how to use that two-ended crochet hook that I’ve had for years.

  • This is so helpful! Recently, I was wondering if I should be slipping the first stitch in my sweater. This cleared up my confusion of when to use this method and when not ot.

  • Hi patty
    I have a pattern to make booties but I can’t read the pattern even though it been translated into English. The patten is named Booties on two needles. Please help



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