I'm working on my first project, a simple garter stitch scarf, but as I progress the number of stitches increases, and the scarf keeps getting wider and wider. This is exactly the problem I enountered when I tried knitting a few years ago and caused me to stop knitting, but this time I want to get past it. When I mention this to experienced knitters, they always say, "Oh, I know what you're doing," but I don't. Grrrr! Any suggestions?


Bill's picture

I suspect when you finish knitting a don't take it completely off the needle, ...that leaves a strand of yarn on the needle which you think is a stitch the next time around.

bobshome's picture

Hi - lol - been there! Try using a ring marker every ten stitches and keep counting the ten as you knit. When you come to an eleven look closely at your previous row and you will most probably see the problem. Even if you don't understand where/how it happened just undo the work to that previous row and problem stitch. When you get to it undo the knit very slowly and you'll see what happened. Good luck - before you know it you'll be knitting and watching TV at the same time.

michaelpthompson's picture

I had this same problem when I was making a garter stitch scarf a couple of years ago. One thing I discovered was that I was splitting the yarn with my needle, so it became two loops on the next row.

"All knitting is just one stitch at a time."

"All knitting is just one stitch at a time."

mrossnyc's picture

One thing that I still do from time to time, which can cause the same thing to happen, is if I'm not paying attention to what I'm doing (like watching TV while knitting) and the yarn accidentally wraps around the needle giving me an extra loop on the next row. If this is what you are doing, there will likely be a small hole in your knitting immediately below. When you want this to happen, it's known as a Yarn Over, when you don't, it's just frustrating. Good luck and keep with it, you'll get a feel for what to do and those unexpected increases will go away.

potterdc's picture

Hey Bob,

Hang in there! This is not uncommon at the beginning. Move slowly, mindfully, looking at the work you've done, tugging gently at the row once you've finished it, seeing if there's anything out of place or asymmetrical as your eyes move from stitch to stitch. As you do so, you'll be training your eye to recognize what a completed stitch looks like vs. a loop that got left on the needle, and training your fingers to recognize the feeling of moving a completed stitch off the needle.

It will come - this has happened to all of us. I have been knitting since the 80's, and just recently switched styles of knitting from English to Portuguese, and found that I was dropping stitches and re-looping all over again!

I like the suggestion from Bobshome below - it will help you move more slowly and accurately, which in the long run will help you move quickly...and accurately!

Keep at it -

Jonathan in DC

Think less, enjoy it more.

Tom Hart's picture

When I had my first knitting lesson I cast on 10 stitches. After I completed my first row I had 17 stitches. My teacher taught me to unknit or tink (knit spelled backwards). Tinking proved to be my most valuable skill as a new knitter. It allows me to go back over a piece of work and take it apart slowly and see what happened and what I’ve done. You can’t actually learn to knit without learning to unknit. It’s that essential.

vsidart's picture

I'm with Tom. Tinking should be taught before cast-on!

CLABBERS's picture

Hi there! I'm a fairly new knitter -- still knitting hats and scarves and other relatively flat things without any fancy stitches yet -- and have run into the same problem as you are having. What I do, so that I don't have to unknit very far is I put a marker ever 20 stitches. When I get to the marker, I go back and count my stitches. If I still have 20, then I know I did that set correctly. If not...unkint and try again...but I know I have only screwed up those 20 somewhere.

Here's a search I did on that has a bunch of unknitting videos. I have really learned a lot from those who have graciously posted little videos there.

Hope this helps.


TheKnittingMill's picture

Hang in there Bob! We've all been there, but the more you knit the more "aware" you will become of what exactly those sticks and string are doing and you'll begin to readily identify issues as they happen. I think Bill and Michael have provided the two main reasons for inadvertently increasing stitches. If you post a close up pic we could probably diagnose your problem and be able to offer up some more specific instruction for a fix.

I can't add anything to the helpful suggestions the others guys have already given you but to say STICK WITH IT, and keep going. Unintentionally adding stitches happens to all of us as beginners (and sometimes even more recently) but there's nothing like practice. Also, be sure you are not putting your needle into the stitch below that is between the one you've just worked and the next stitch on your left needle. That will add another stitch. Stay determined, use the advice the other guys have shared, and you will be just fine.

RickMartin's picture

Sorry I'm late to comment on this, but another thing to watch out for is on the last stitch of the row make sure that you simply drop the working yarn letting it hang down when you turn and start knitting. A common mistake is to pull the yarn over the top of the needle when you turn - this will create two stitches out of that last one instead of just one.

Have fun!