This post discusses what Twisted Knit Stitches are, how to prevent a twisted knit stitch and how to fix twisted stitches when knitting. Plus, how to put knit stitches back on needles so that they aren’t twisted.

Knit Errors And How to Prevent And Fix Them

This is one of 5 posts that address certain knit errors; how to diagnose, prevent, and fix them. See the other posts here:

Twisted stitches are a common knit error, especially among beginner knitters. They happen most commonly when you knit into the wrong leg of your stitch, when you wrap your yarn the wrong way and when you put your stitches back on your needles after having taken them off.

Before we talked any more about twisted knit stitches, let’s talk about how a knit stitch should look.

Anatomy of a Knit Stitch

How stitches should ‘sit’ on your knitting needle

Whether you are looking at your work from the knit side or the purl side, the right leg of each knit stitch should ‘sit’ in front or toward you, and its left leg in the back, away from you. In Western/English knitting, that right leg is also known as the ‘leading leg’ and is the stitch that you will knit and purl into. The left leg is also known as the ‘trailing leg.”

Showing right leg of stitch on front of needle.

Twisted Stitches

As a general rule, your stitches should ‘sit’ on your needles in one specific way. When your stitch isn’t sitting so that the right leg is forward, it is twisted. And before we go further, there are some patterns where you want a twisted stitch. But unless you are instructed specifically to ‘knit into back leg’, then your pattern will assume that you will be knitting into the front, right leg.

Diagnosis

As you are knitting, if you notice that the right leg of the stitch you are getting ready to work is in the back; then you, my friend, have a twisted knit stitch. The leading leg is the left leg in the image below, as opposed to the right leg. If you knit into the left leg, you will continue to twist the stitches.

Knit fabric on needles showing how knit stitches become twisted.

The same holds true for the purl side. If the right leg of the stitch is in the back, it is twisted.

A knit swatch showing how a knit stitch gets twisted.

Like all knit errors, it is best to catch twisted knit stitches as you are working them so that you can immediately fix them, as addressed below. But, if you didn’t catch them while you were working, you will notice that several aren’t facing the right way and appear…well…twisted.

A swatch of fabric showing twisted knit stitches.

Prevention

  • Prevent twisted stitches by knitting into the leading leg. In Western/English knitting, that should always be the right leg.
  • You can also twist a stitch by wrapping your yarn around the needle from the front to the back (clockwise), as opposed to from the back to the front (counterclockwise). Always wrap counterclockwise.
  • Twisted knit stitches also happen when you are putting stitches back onto your needle, after ripping out several rows, several stitches or picking up one dropped stitch. When you place your stitches back onto your needles or before you knit them, adjust them so that the right/leading leg is sitting in front.
Putting stitches on needle so that they don't become twisted.

The Fix

If you catch your twisted stitches while knitting them, simply turn them so that they are sitting correctly. If you find them later on, you can do one of the following. These cures are also useful to correct any number of knit errors or knit mistakes.

Drop Down

You can drop down (a forced dropped stitch) if you notice your twisted stitch is just a couple of stitches, several rows back. Put a stitch marker one stitch down past the twisted stitch so that you don’t go too far. And keep the rest of your stitches on the needles.

Then follow the suggestions for the Dropped Stitch ‘Cure’

Tink

Whoever came up with this name was more clever than I am. Tink is simply ‘knit’ spelled backward. To tink you simply un-knit:

Insert your needle into the stitch directly below and behind the stitch that you want to unknit

Pull the stitch off your working needle and onto your left needle

With your right hand, gently pull the yarn from the tinked stitch

Repeat until you have knit back to the twisted stitch. Simply reseat so that it is sitting with the right leg in front.

Frog

And if ‘tinking’ wasn’t already clever enough, the knitting cognoscenti decided ‘rip it, rip it’ sounds like a croaking frog. Hence the name ‘frogging’ for when we take our work off of the needles and just start ripping. Some knitters weave a thinner knitting needle or piece of yarn into their work where they want to stop ripping, a lifeline of sorts. I couldn’t count the number of times I have frogged, but haven’t used a lifeline yet.

With frogging, the two biggest challenges are not going too far and not twisting stitches again as you put them back on your needle.

Watch this short video to see how to get the stitches back on the needles correctly. The last thing you want is for them to get twisted again!

All About Knitting

If you want to learn how to knit or are looking to brush up on your knitting skills and knowledge, pop on over to the How to Knit page which houses all of the posts that teach knitting skills. Or, you could go ahead and visit each one by clicking the links below.

To refer back to how to fix twisted stitches in knitting, bookmark this page or pin the following image.

closeup of knitting showing twisted stitch and how to identify it.

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