16 Common Knitting Mistakes Beginners Make: How to Fix Them

Knitting Mistakes Beginners Make  by Janice Jones  |Published 07-14-2023

So you decided to take up knitting, perhaps because your friend offered to teach you, or you thought it might add a new craft to your repertoire, or maybe you heard it was a healthy, mindful, and productive way to fill your free time.

Knitting is an excellent craft that allows you to create beautiful and functional items using just two needles and yarn.

If you are a beginner or have some experience, knowing that you are not alone is essential. We all started just where you are now. As beginners, we all have one thing in common: we make mistakes. I can personally tell you that I have my fair share of mistakes over the years.

A person is seen knitting with gray yarn.

In this article, I will share some of my mistakes and what I've heard from others. Better still, I will give tips to help you fix or avoid those mistakes altogether.

By the end of this article, you'll have the knowledge and confidence to embark on your knitting projects with ease.

Common Mistakes to Avoid as a New Beginner Knitter

These common beginner knitter mistakes are very common, so don't be too hard on yourself. Luckily, all mistakes are fixable or avoidable, so check out these 16 mistakes.  (Remember, we all make mistakes.)

Knitting Mistakes Beginners Make
Table of Contents

1. Dropped Stitches
2. Knitting in the Wrong Direction
3. Uneven Stitches
4. Twisted Stitches
5. Finding Holes in Your Work
6. Casting on or Binding off Mistakes
7. Putting Stitches on the Needle Backward
8. Adding an extra stitch
9. Wrong choice of needles or yarn
10. Not understanding charts or patterns
11. Not weaving in ends properly.
12. Forgetting to block your work.
13. Not making a gauge swatch
14. Losing track of where you are
15. Not understanding how to read your stitches.
16. Not understanding yarn labels

Knitting Mistakes Beginners Make

1. Avoid Dropped Stitches


This is likely the most common mistake that occurs when new knitters begin to make fabric. Dropped stitches are a common knitting mishap that can be easily avoided with a bit of attention.

A dropped stitch occurs when a stitch slips off the needle and unravels down the work, often without being conscious of dropping the stitch.

To prevent this, periodically count the stitches on your needle. If you cast on 25 stitches and now only have 23 stitches, you most likely lost some stitches somewhere.

Look at the fabric you created to find where you lost these two stitches. Look for loose stitches or holes. Look for places where a stitch may have been dropped.

They look like little ladders that start at the needle and go down into the fabric. Learn how to pick up dropped stitches using a crochet hook when you notice them.

Learn how to fix dropped stitches.

2. Knitting in the Wrong Direction

Avoid mistakes by knitting in the right directionOther knitting mistakes beginners make include getting confused about which direction to work.

This may seem silly, but it is far too common among new knitters just starting. This mistake is easier to avoid but not impossible to correct.

To avoid this mistake:
Always finish the row before you put your needles down. In other words, do not stop in the middle of the row.

If you must stop in the middle of the row, look at your needles when you begin again. The working yarn should be attached to the right-hand needle.

To Correct this mistake:
You must rip out the rows that you knit in the wrong direction. Place the ripped stitches back on your needle and continue.

See number 7 (below) on How to Place Stitches on the Needle Correctly.

3. Uneven Stitches


This is a common mistake among beginners and more advanced knitters as well. The overall effect doesn't look pleasing when some stitches are more significant than others. This happens because we haven't mastered tension.

Some knitters will hid this problem by using varigated or speciality yarns that make it difficult to see individual stitches.  That doesn't solve the problem, though.

Uneven stitches can occur anywhere but are most noticeable in several places.

  • Edge (selvage) stitches are often uneven if the tension is not quite right. 
  • You may also notice this problem between knit and purl stitches when knitting ribbing or cables.
  • Another place where uneven stitches occur is between knit and purl rows. This is due to the tension difference between knitting purls and knits. For example, your knit stitches may be tighter than your purl stitches.

This takes practice, but I recommend reading my article about tension and how to fix this mistake.

4. Twisted Stitches

twisted-stitch-sample.jpgSome knitting mistakes beginners make involve how stitches rest on the needles.

Unless you deliberately try to create twisted stitches, you will want to avoid them so the fabric you create will be uniform and beautiful. Twisted stitches commonly occur because you are doing one of two things:

1. The stitches on your needles are not placed correctly. This often happens if you must ripe out some stitches and put the stitches back on the needle incorrectly.

2. You knit the stitches incorrectly.

Hands holding knitting needles and showing how to wrap the yarn.Wrapping your yarn properly, as shown here, will help prevent twisted stitches.

Learn more about Twisted Stitches

5. Finding Holes in Your Work

Assuming you do not want holes in your work, the likely cause of this problem is accidental yarnovers or dropped stitches. There is nothing wrong with yarnovers, a technique used in lace work to create holes.

But if you knit a patch of stockinette stitches and notice a hole, it is likely a mistake. You must first recognize the hole as a mistake to correct this issue.

It's a good idea to place a stitch marker next to the hole to mark it. Secondly, you must rip your stitches back to the hole's location. Remove the yarn, place all the stitches back on the needle, and re-knit.

6. Casting on and Binding off Mistakes

Typically tension is often the problem when casting on or binding off. You can either cast on too tightly or loosely. 

Similarily, when binding off, we can either bind off too tightly or too loosely.

Casting On

If you cast it on too tightly, the edge will curl into a frown. If the cast on the edge is too loose, the stitches look sloppy. If this happens to you, the most straightforward remedy is to use a different-sized needle for casting on. Use one needle size larger if your cast-on is too tight and one smaller if your cast-on is too loose. There are also many ways to cast on, so a different cast on method, might correct the mistake.

Binding Off

The same holds for binding off. Adjust your needle size up or down so that your cast-on and bind-off edges are straight and parallel. Even blocking may not be able to correct these problems.

Learn how to cast on stitches.

Learn how to bind off stitches.

7. Putting Stitches on the Needle Backwards

Stitches on the needle

If you cast on all your stitches using standard cast-on methods, your stitches will face the correct direction.

When viewing the stitches on the needles, there are two legs, one is on the far side of the needle, and the other leg is on the side closest to you.

If you look closely, you will see that one leg is closest to the needle point and one is not. If they are placed correctly, the leg closest to you should also be closest to the needle tips. This is how the stitches should rest on the needle if they are accidentally dropped.

8. Knitting Mistakes Beginners Make: Adding a Stitch, Unintentionally 

Like losing stitches, adding stitches somewhere along the row will make your stitch count incorrect. Counting stitches at the end of every row is essential to ensure your count remains consistent.

If you end up with an extra stitch, you likely added one somewhere in that row. These accidental yarnovers can produce a new stitch.

The easiest way to avoid this is to concentrate on knitting stitches only and not picking up parts of a stitch to work. If this happens to you, the next step is to rip back to a row where the correct stitch count exists.

Pick up and place those stitches back on the needle and continue.

9. Wrong Choice of Needles or Yarn

a woman is seated working on a knit scarfThis is likely not a knitting mistake beginners make, but it's worth noting that knowledge of yarn and needles is a good skill to develop.

Another common mistake is using the wrong needles and yarn for your project. The size of your needles and the weight of your yarn should match the requirements stated in your pattern.

Using the wrong size can impact your Gauge, resulting in a finished piece that is too large or too small. Always check the recommended needle size and yarn weight before starting a new project on both the pattern and the yarn label

Suitable knitting needles and yarn is essential for a successful knitting project. Knitting needles come in various materials, such as metal, wood, or plastic.

Each material has its characteristics, so it's essential to experiment and find what works best for you. Additionally, different projects may require different needle lengths and sizes. Longer needles are ideal for larger projects, while shorter needles are more suitable for smaller items like socks or hats.

When it comes to yarn, countless options are available, each with its unique texture, weight, and fiber content. Consider the type of project you're working on and choose a yarn that complements it. The Craft Yarn Council provides great information about needle sizes and how to pair them with yarn weights.

For example, a soft and cozy yarn is perfect for a winter sweater, while a lightweight and breathable yarn is better suited for a summer top. Remember to check the yarn label for recommended needle size and gauge information.

Learn more about knitting needles

Learn more about Yarn

10. Common Knitting Mistakes Beginners Make:  Not Understanding Charts or Patterns

Basketweave chart

Knitting patterns can seem intimidating initially, but you can easily decipher them with some practice. Start by reading my articles on knitting instructions, knitted charts, and knit abbreviations and symbols.

Once you are ready for your first project using a pattern, start by reading the pattern instructions thoroughly before you begin. Pay attention to any abbreviations or special stitches used. Download my knitting glossary and keep it handy for reference. Highlight any abbreviations to review.

Charts are another common element in knitting patterns. They visually represent the stitches and can be especially useful for complex patterns or lacework.

Learn to read charts by following the symbols and understanding their meanings. Practice with more detailed charts before taking on more intricate designs. If charts are intimidating at this stage, stick with the written instructions and master those before moving on to charts.

Understanding how to Read Patterns and Charts

11. Not Weaving in Ends Properly.

There is more than one way to weave in ends, but you should be sure that you are weaving in the ends so they do not unravel, which will leave holes in your finished project. Learn more about weaving in ends.

This is a skill that require some practice to do it correctly so that the ends do not show on the right side of the fabric.

12. Forgetting to Block Your Work


Blocking is essential in finishing your knitting projects and giving them a polished look. Blocking involves wetting your finished piece and shaping it to the desired dimensions. This process evens out your stitches and helps your project retain its shape.

To block your knitting, immerse it in lukewarm water with a gentle wool wash. Gently squeeze the excess water, then lay your knitting flat on a clean towel. Use rust-proof pins or blocking wires to shape and let it dry completely.

Once your project is dry, you can proceed with the finishing touches. This may include weaving in loose ends, sewing on buttons, or attaching embellishments.

Take your time to complete these final steps with care, as they contribute to your knitted item's overall appearance and durability.

Learn more about Blocking Your Work

13. Not Making a Gauge Swatch

Stockinette swatch showing how to measure gauge

Tension and gauge are crucial aspects of knitting that can make or break your project.

Tension refers to how you hold your yarn and control the tightness of your stitches. Consistent tension ensures that your stitches are uniform and your finished piece looks professional.

Practice finding the proper tension for you by experimenting with different yarns and needles and how you hold your yarn.
Conversely, Gauge is the number of stitches and rows per inch in your knitting.

It helps you determine the size of your finished piece and whether it matches the pattern's requirements. Not all projects rely on a specific gauge, such as placemats, washcloths, or scarves, but if you attempt to make something that you hope will fit, the Gauge is critical.

To measure the Gauge, knit a swatch using the recommended needle size and yarn weight specified in your pattern. Count the number of stitches and rows within a 4x4 inch square and compare it to the pattern's Gauge. Adjust your needle size accordingly to achieve the correct Gauge.

Learn more about knitting gauge.

14. Losing Track of Where You Are

This can happen to anyone, beginner, intermediate or advanced knitter. As we advance from super simple to more complete stitch patterns, we may lose track of our progress.

This happens when we graduate from a two- or four-row repeat pattern to an eight- or 12-row pattern. How do you keep track of your progress?

There are several ways to avoid getting into trouble and losing your place.

  • Use stitch markers to keep track of the row you are knitting.
  • Use a row counter to tell you what row you are knitting.
  • Use paper and pencil methods like tally marks to follow your progress.
  • Use an online pattern program.

If you lose your place, learn how to read your stitches, bringing us to number 15.

15. Not Understanding How to Read Your Stitches

How to count stitches in stockinette

New Knitters will likely master stitch patterns such as garter, stockinette, rib, or seed stitch. As we learn a new stitch pattern, we must also understand what the stitches look like.

It may also be challenging to determine whether we've made any mistakes if we fail to recognize a knit from a purl. Worse yet, we may acknowledge that something looks wrong, but we can't determine where or how to fix it.

16. Knitting Mistakes Beginners Make:  Not Understanding Yarn Labels

There is a lot of helpful information on yarn labels that can be used to make decisions.

  • What needle size to use.
  • How much yarn to purchase.
  • How will I launder projects made with this yarn? Is this a practical method for me?
  • Is this fiber appropriate for the item I wish to create?
  • Do I understand the type of fiber I will be using, and do I have experience with it?
  • Will I be able to create a gauge Swatch that matches the yarn weight and needle size, or will I need to make other compensations?

Learn more about reading yarn labels

Knitting Mistakes Beginners Make:  Conclusion

Knitting is a rewarding and versatile craft that offers endless possibilities for creativity. By avoiding common mistakes, choosing suitable materials, understanding patterns, and practicing proper tension, you'll be well on your way to becoming a confident and skilled knitter.

Remember, knitting is a journey of learning and exploration, and an inevitable part of knitting is making mistakes, so embrace the process.

Don't be afraid to make mistakes – they are part of learning. 

Here I have a little confession to make. 

I'm a perfectionist. 

I've been that way forever and I have struggled all my life to get rid of my perfectionist tendencies.

Knitting, more than anything else has helped me realize that I don't need to be perfect.  Yes if you are trying to be a master knitter, you might need to knit to perfection, but for the rest of us, relax and enjoy the process.

Knitting Mistakes Beginners Make
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About Janice

Hi, I’m Janice, the voice behind Smart-Knit-Crocheting. I love to knit and crochet and even more, I love teaching others what I know.

Though I learned to knit and crochet as a child, I didn’t get serious about these amazing hobbies until I retired. I’m a certified knit and crochet instructor through the Craft Yarn Council and am working on becoming a Master Hand Knitter through The Knitting Guild Association.

I’m currently living with my husband of over 50 years and our 7 Shih Tzu dogs.

I love hearing from you, so please drop me a line and let me know what you’re working on, whether you love knitting or crocheting more, and if you have any questions. Please visit my about me page for more information.

Happy Crocheting