Knitting Twisted Stitches: Tips and Techniques

You might think knitting twisted stitches is accidental, and maybe sometimes it is. But I’m here to tell you that twisted stitches have been around in knitting for a long, long time. They’re not going anywhere…except they should be in your knitting techniques arsenal!

It’s a simple technique to learn, and it’s great looking too! 

My first introduction to twisted stitches was when I learned to knit (many years ago.) My mom used to knit twisted stitch ribs because that’s what her mom used to do. She didn’t think of it as unusual. But I wondered why she did that when it wasn’t written into the pattern. My guess is back then, they wanted the ribs at the start of their sweaters to be more snug. 

She only twisted the right-side knit stitches but did it on every row. This gave the rib what I can only describe as a half-twisted look. It helped draw in the knit rib somewhat but didn’t make it too stiff.

It wasn’t until much later that I discovered knitting twisted stitches as a design feature. I began to experiment with the differences they made in patterning, especially when included with cables or lace.

3 image collage of knitting twisted stitches. Top 2 show twisted stitches on alternate rows and an incorrectly seated knit stitch on needle, bottom image shows Mistletoe Knit Lace Blanket including intentional twisted knit stitches. Marly Bird

What Is A Twisted Stitch, And Why Are My Knit Stitches Twisted?

A twisted knit stitch can be a stitch sitting the wrong way on the needle. Or it can be the way your work the stitch on the needle. If your stitch is already seated incorrectly on the needle, that has more to do with your technique or knitting style. Throwing (English style knitting) or picking (Continental style knitting) can both result in twisted stitches.

Think of any knit stitch as an arch or rainbow over your needle. A correctly seated stitch will have the right end of the arch at the front and the left end at the back of your needle. Anything other than that look means your stitch is twisted.

How Do You Fix A Twisted Stitch?

It’s easy to fix a twisted stitch if it’s still on your left needle. Slip the twisted stitch onto your right needle and then replace it on the left needle in the correct orientation. See bold above.

Marly further discusses twisted stitches and fixing them in this blog post about knitting for crocheters.

If your twisted stitch is lower down your work, it’s a little more difficult but still fixable. 

How Do I Know If A Stockinette Stitch Is Twisted?

There’s a subtle difference between a regular knit stitch and a twisted knit stitch. If you see something that stands out in a sea of stockinette, it’s likely a stitch you’ve twisted accidentally.

Stockinette stitch is a series of stacked knit stitches visible on one side of the fabric. It looks like a sea of Vs joined in columns and rows. Each knit stitch V shape sits neatly inside and just above the V of the stitch below. The lower points of the V meet and sit side by side but don’t cross.

Twisted knit stitches show up in the same position as regular knit stitches do, but notice the lower points of the V are crossed or twisted.

Here’s how to untwist a stitch farther down your work without unpicking it all.

  1. Mark the stitch that’s twisted using a lockable stitch marker.
  2. Work across the row to the stitch column where you see the twisted stitch.
  3. Drop the next stitch off the needle and run it down to the stitch marker.
  4. Make sure the marked stitch is facing you.
  5. Insert a crochet hook into the marked stitch with the hook facing upward.
  6. Hook the yarn bar immediately above the marked stitch and pull the bar through the stitch, forming a new stitch.
  7. Repeat step 6 until the stitch column is worked back up to the current row.
  8. Slip the remaining stitch onto the left needle with the left end or leg of the rainbow to the back and the right leg to the front of your needle.
At 1:21 Marly discusses twisted stitches, how to recognize them, and how to fix them.

Knitting Twisted Stitches On Purpose

When you mean to knit twisted stitches, it’s very simple. When they’re in the right place and worked evenly they can make a real statement. Here’s what you do.

  1. Insert tip of right-hand needle purlwise (from right to left) into the back of next stitch on left-hand needle.
  2. Complete knit stitch by wrapping yarn from back to front around tip of right-hand needle, pull loop through to front. Hold stitch on right-hand needle. Slip stitch off left-hand needle.
  3. Repeat steps 1 & 2 for each twisted knit stitch.

Why Knit Twisted Stitches?

Twisted stitches are a simple but effective decorative knitting stitch. Using them at the leading edge of lace patterning really defines the direction the stitch column is moving. For example, it makes the edges of lace leaves or trellises more clear and defined.

You can use twisted stitches to give cables extra definition. They really make cables stand out, especially if you use them for narrow two-stitch cables. Traveling cables and stacked columns of twisted knit stitches shine. You’ll find many sock patterns using this technique of neat vertical lines for outstanding patterning down the legs.

Twisted stitches stand out beautifully from a reverse stockinette background as the twisting adds depth to the stitches.

You can use twisted knit stitches to draw in your knitting. Twisted ribs are narrower than regular ribs due to the extra twist in each RS knit stitch. If you twist ALL stitches (including purl sts on every row), the resulting fabric is even firmer and narrower.

Need More Input?

If you need more information about twisted stitches or using twisted stitches with lace, check out the links below.

How to knit lace with twisted stitches describes the history of lace, and problems you might encounter while knitting lace.

Knitting definitions will take you to our list of references and abbreviations you might find in patterns. It’s a great resource to bookmark and refer to regularly.

You might need to learn to tink back one stitch at a time. If you’ve made a mistake a little way back, or just a couple of rows back, try it out.

You should really check out the Mistletoe Knit Lace Blanket! It’s a gorgeous FREE knit lace blanket pattern! You’ll find lace and twisted stitches here to give you some practice.

Click over to these other knitting and crochet techniques you may need to learn. Find links to videos and other useful knitting and crochet information.

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Marly Bird

The One and Only, Marly

Marly is a knitwear and crochet designer (and yarn addict) that is here to help you learn how to knit and crochet in a way that's fun and approachable.

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