This is a pretty basic question. I heard a very experienced knitter say that when she knits the pieces of a sweater she always knits the first stitch in every row. I thought she meant that she adds an extra stitch (knitted ) at the beginning and end of every row but she said, "No, just knit the first stitch of every row even if the pattern would indicate 'purl'. She said this makes it so much easier when finishing the sweater. My question is: Do you guys do this? Does it help? If the pattern is complicated, does it not screw it up? I always have a problem finishing a sweater neatly and would be happy to find something that would assist me in this. What do you think?


I, too, always knit the first stitch of every row and have never found it screws up a pattern. It becomes the seam when stitching up the pieces and I find it keeps the edges stable. This is just my personal way of working.

I've never heard of 'knitting' the first stitch. I 'have' heard and I do slip the first stitch for the very reason you state: those slipped stitches are considered 'live' stitches and are easily picked up for he purpose of adding a border. There is a method of grafting pieces together on the right sides of the garment that makes an absolutely invisible, undetectable seam - it even aligns the adjacent rows together. But it does not require that every row begin with a knitted stitch.

~Mike in Tampa
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Asplund's picture

I normally knit the first stitch, simply because I find it easier to knit than purl the first one. (Through back of loop if it gets too loose.) If the pattern required it I would add an extra stitch to knit, otherwise not. Why not make a swatch where you try the different ways? It will show you the differences clearly - and then stick to what YOU like best!

YarnGuy716's picture

This is once again a case of as many ways to do something as there are knitters. My consistent advice is "do what works best for you." Not every knitter knows everything or has done everything. You can find knitters who have knit for 50 or 60 years, they cast on one way, they cast off one way, they increase one way, etc...

As for this case... I have heard of knitting the first "and last" stitch of every row. This gives you a garter stitch edge. I've also heard of knitting the 1st and last st on the RS and purling the 1st and last on the WS, to give you a stockinette edge.

An actual selvage stitch is when you do add and extra stitch at the beginning and end. The reasoning explained behind this: if your gauge is 4sts/inch when you seam and use 4 sts you lose an inch from your garment.

I've also heard of slipping the first st of every row, which gives you an elongated edging. This is nice for things like scarfs and shawls which gives an edge that looks like your cast on edge.

Like I said, try and and all of these to see what you like and what works best for you. Or you can ignore it all and do what works best for you. Because despite what "experienced knitters" may say... there is no Knitting Police. :-)

MMario's picture

For many patterns that are intended to be seamed that stitch on the edge is an "extra" anyway - to always knit it does give you a consistent edge when you are seaming. But I also hear a lot of people suggesting the slip 1st,knit last of every row. That is normally *not* reccomended when doing lace as it is less elastic if you are going to block hard.
MMario - ambiguity is cultivated, it doesn't happen in a vacuum!

MMario - I'm not divorced from reality - we're having a trial separation

TomH's picture

I don't do any of the mentioned. I just knit the pattern as it states and am happy to say my finishing and seaming always looks great. (My guess is it's because I had a good teacher when I learned to seam.)