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Dee Hardwicke’s Cottage Throw in Field Guide 25 is a glorious design, and makes for an excellent fall-into-winter project. It’s engaging and fun to knit, just the thing to work on as the weather draws in.

Here are my articles on understanding color dominance, on stranded colorwork tension and floats that are just right, along with other tips to keep handy as you knit. If you’re looking for tips sewing the panels together, you’ll find an Arnall-Culliford Knitwear video tutorial here and top Ask Patty mattress stitch tips here. You can also check out the Skill Set videos for all the basic techniques.

A big moment in the Cottage Throw comes when we add the border. I have a lot of thoughts about how to pick up and knit the stitches along the edges. Here we go!

Side Edges

Start by working along one of the sides edges—the long sides—either beginning at the top right or bottom left, it doesn’t matter which.

The instruction is to pick up and knit approximately 4 stitches for every 5 rows. 

If you find it a little bit challenging to get the needle into the gaps, you can use a smaller needle for this step. Just don’t forget to change to the correct size for the actual knitting!

To join the yarn, work the first pick-up-and-knit by just poking the needle through the edge; leaving yourself about 5 inches (12 cm) of tail, drape the yarn around the needle tip and pull it through. For the second stitch, wrap both ends of the yarn around the needle tip and pull them through—your yarn is now fully secure, without having to make knots. Drop the tail end, and continue along the rest of the edge, with only the working yarn. 

Leave a decent tail and wrap the unanchored yarn around the needle tip for the first stitch.

Wrap both ends of the yarn around the needle tip for the second stitch.

For all subsequent stitches, use just the working yarn.

Where to poke the needle? Working from the right side of the fabric, go under a full edge stitch, between the first and second stitches of the row. Work into four rows, then skip a row. And keep going. 

And keep going! Don’t worry if your edge stitches aren’t perfectly tidy. Mine aren’t! Blocking is magic, and those stitches get covered up by the edging anyway. 

As you’re working along, it might seem like there will be gaps, but the stitches will absolutely widen out and fill up those gaps! There are a lot of stitches to get along the edge. If your final count is off by a handful (about 5–8), you’re OK. Place removable stitch markers every 20 stitches or so as you go, to help you keep count.

Work the seed stitch, then bind off, making sure you’re not pulling the stitches too tight. You might find it helpful to use a needle a single size larger than the one you worked with. Bind off about 20 stitches, and test to see if it lies flat, before you commit!

Top and Bottom Edges

Once the two long edges are done, work along the top and bottom edges. For that you’ll pick up and knit 3 stitches in the five rows of the seed stitch sections and one stitch for every stitch in the horizontal sections of the colorwork, along the cast-on and bind-off edges.

Atlas yarn in Pear, Merlot, and Mouse

Three in the seed stitch (side) sections, and one stitch for every stitch in the cast-on and bound-off edges. 

And use what you learned on the side edges to make sure your bind off lies nice and flat.

You’ll find even more tips on picking up stitches here.

Got all that? Save it for later! Here’s how to bookmark articles for future reference.

About The Author

Kate Atherley is a teacher, designer, author and technical editor. She’s also the publisher of Digits & Threads, a magazine all about Canadian fibre and textile arts.


  • Kate, this is wonderful, as always with your advice! Thank you SO MUCH. This will really help with picking up stitches to knit button bands, etc, as well. And, as someone whose cast-off/bind-off is always too tight, I really appreciate the tip about using a larger needle when that step comes along. Many smiles!

    • I’m so glad you found the article helpful!


  • I always pickup with a crochet hook – smaller size – and slide the stitches from the handle end of the hook on to knitting needle. So much neater and easier. And fast.

    • I second this suggestion. Using a crochet hook makes pulling the stitch loops through much easier. I do it one stitch at a time, though. Pull the stitch through, put it on the needle, then give your yarn a gentle tug to snug it around the needle. (This works beautifully for button bands too!)

      • I use an afghan crochet hook so I can do the whole row. Then knit them off onto my knitting needle next row.

    • I’m going to try this for my next heel flap. I find the pickup the most difficult part of the entire sock.

  • I really appreciate pictures and videos, so much easier to learn than reading directions. Thanks

  • Kate, I noticed that on the side edge where you start all the stitches are the same color. Wondering if the pattern is written so that every row starts and ends with a main color, or if you added a main color stitch at end/beginning so you would have this anchor to pick up on? I never quite know how to handle the turns on back and forth fair isle, so usually try to stick to the traditional in the round.

    • Hello Heidi!

      A good question. The pattern does (very smartly!) start each row with main color stitches, so you have a good stable edge.


  • My biggest issue is setting in sleeves. Someone once told me to put right sides together and sew each side of the sleeve from shoulder to armpit. What stitch would you use to sew on the wrong side?
    Your guidance would be very much appreciated.

  • I use an interchangeable crochet hook to pick up stitches. I also use connectors to make the cable as long as needed. I picked up 840 stitches for the edge of a blanket that way.

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