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Placing stitches on hold on waste yarn

December 24, 2013

::: how to place stitches on hold on waste yarn :::

This technique comes up rather often in knitting. Two popular examples are the sleeves on a top down sweater (like Flax or Harvest), or the thumb stitches on a mitten (like Maize). The example below is a mitten but the principles remain the same.

Thread some spare yarn on your darning needle
Thread some spare yarn on your darning needle
Run the needle through all of the thumb stitches
Run the needle through all of the stitches
Stitches have been placed on hold

Pull your yarn through the stitches, making sure all of the stitches are still on the yarn (don’t pull it all the way through)

Voila, stitches have been place on hold!  You can tie the ends of the waste yarn together (so it doesn’t slip out).  Later on, when you want to continue knitting from these ‘held’ or ‘live’ stitches, simply slip them back onto needles, and pull the waste yarn out.

This tutorial is part of The Simple Collection – a series of 8 free patterns designed to help you knit modern, seamless knits for the entire family.  Like it?  Get our email updates, and share The Simple Collection with your friends!

Free Patterns from the Simple Collection:


10 Comments leave one →
  1. February 6, 2019 9:35 am

    Thank you. I’ve been browsing your website while I waited to start the next section, and I love it! You have such a diverse collection of how-to posts. Can’t wait to learn more!

  2. February 5, 2019 7:24 pm

    Hi. Working on the Mountain Mist sweater, starting the yoke separation rounds. I’ve removed the CB marker k39 stitches and placed the BOR marker. The next step is to place 43 stitches on hold, which I can do. But the next direction says to cast on 13 stitches. Should I cast on 13 stitches on a new needle like I did to start the sweater? Or cast 13 more stitches onto the working needle?

  3. Doris Bammi permalink
    February 2, 2019 4:50 am

    Please tell me what the instruction means “turn cast on one stitch turn”. I am knitting antler mittens and have put the thumb stitches on hold.

    • February 4, 2019 10:39 am

      Hi Doris – you can turn your work and use a knitted cast on to add one stitch, or you can skip the turn and just cast on 1 stitch using the backwards loop cast on.

  4. Carla Barth permalink
    October 26, 2017 10:30 am

    I am making a sweater (first time) and the instructions say to put the last 33 stitches for the back on a stitch holder (or waste yarn). How do I do that if I need the rest of the yarn to start the front? Can I bind off and pick up those stitches when continuing with the pattern or do I have to start a whole new skein?

    • October 26, 2017 12:42 pm

      Hi Carla – kind of depends on the sweater, but you can always cut your yarn.

  5. November 12, 2016 5:56 am

    Best explanation I have seen but could you not just put the stitches on a stitch holder?

  6. November 3, 2015 8:02 pm

    Good explanation for technique I have never done before

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