First and Last stitch

Hello there,
I am what you might call a newbie or virgin knitter (I first picked up a pair of needles a few days ago). I was taught the basics and have a pretty good idea of how everything works thus far but the bane of my infantile knitting existence is those darn first and last stitches in each row. I know that I will improve with time but I honestly feel as though I am missing something or perhaps was taught incorrectly when it comes to the first and last stitch in a row. I’ve searched the internet for instructional videos and perused a few ‘how-to’ knitting books but no one seems to even mention the first and last stitch. This blows my mind.
Anyway, from what I can gather I am using the knit stitch with the continental method (I am right-handed as well). But even with such seemingly specific information I have had a rough time finding any answers so I will try to outline my queries here in the hopes that someone may be able to help.

  1. After casting on and before beginning my first row of stitches I am sort of confused how to go about creating the first stitch. I was told that I am to go ‘behind’ the first stitch with my needle to pick of the yarn but as I alluded to earlier every video I have seen shows the needle going in from ‘the front’ to grasp the yarn.
    This leads me to question two:

  2. I was told that I am using a ‘combined method.’ I’ve done a few searches and the only ‘combined methods’ i can find are a combination of the knit and pearl stitches and I know for certain that I am not using a pearl stitch (frankly, i don’t think I could even comprehend that yet … aha). Is there another sort of combined method which I may be using that the internet videos do not show? I think I am knitting a pretty basic (if not the most basic) pattern here so I am a bit confused.

  3. When coming to the last stitch in every row (although I will speak specifically of the first for the moment) I am again seeing a few different methods of finishing the row. The method I was taught was that I bring the yarn (which is still being held continentally) to the front of the needle in my left hand and then merely slip the last stitch onto the needle in my right hand. But in every video I have seen, the knitter knits the last stitch in the same manner that she does every other in the row: With the Yarn staying behind the needle and entering the stitch via ‘the front’ in order to grasp the yarn to pull through.
    This leads to question four:

  4. It doesn’t matter which of the two methods mentioned in question three I use, the last stitch is always twice as loose (at least) as every other stitch. Why is this and how can I potentially tighten this stitch? Could it be that I am making the rest of my stitches in the row too tight (this is something I think i can be guilty of)? When I consciously try to keep the stitches loose the knitting looks horrible (Stitches which are far too loose). But even keeping my stitches loose does not seem to alleviate the very loose stitch as the end of the row (and thus the beginning of the next row).

I know this may seem like a long sting of questions but I have a feeling the answer is going to relatively simple in comparison to my analytical line of questioning.

So if any can or is willing to help it would be greatly appreciated. I have started and re-started this same project (a scarf as you would expect … aha) about 20 times in the past week due almost entirely to these darn first and last stitches. I am presently at a stalemate with the project as my yarn is cast-on but laying in wait for me to figure out this problem.

Thanks in advance for anyone who may step forward to help this mule of a man (boy).


Welcome, Blake! :slight_smile:

OK, I think this is what is referred to as “combination knitting”:

That link has lots of helpful videos.

First stitch- can tend to be loose. You’re right, it will improve with practice. One thing that you can (sometimes) do to help is to slip the first stitch of the row without knitting it. Just move it directly over to the right needle without turning it around. Then go on knitting the rest of the row. That stretches that stitch over two rows instead of one. Go ahead and knit the last stitch as normal, since you will then turn your work, it will then be the first stitch, and you will slip it.

Hope all that rambling helps. :slight_smile:

Hi Blake-

My edges were kind of loopy so I just pulled the 1st & last stitches snug and it helped- I found that after I knitted a few rows the loopy ones a few rows down weren’t as loopy anymore. I haven’t tried the slipping the 1st stitch method yet but I will if needed.

Combined knitting (this is how I started too) has to do with how you place the needle into the stitch to knit. There is a video on the site here- take a look & see.

EDITED TO ADD- that 1st stitch in a row is harder knitting with the yarn in the left hand- especially if you pulled the stitch snug. I have to kind of wrap the yarn around the needle (like English) for that 1st stitch, then go to the continental left hand hold for the rest of the row.
Good luck & have fun!

You just knit the first stitch as you would any other. The first and last stitches tend to be loose because they are only anchored on one side. It helps to, when you knit the first stitch of every row, pull it really taut. This will affect the last stitch, since the first stitch of every row is what you knit into on the last stitch of the next row. It is very possible you are also knitting tight in general. Remember that when you knit a stitch, you don’t have to pull it so it’s snug on the needle. Let it have some room and be a little loose. Good luck and welcome!

You can slip the last st or the first stitch, it can help even them out. I’ve never had much luck with slipping though, they tend to come out looser than just knitting or purling them. So what I do is make the first st, pull gently on the yarn which also tightens the end st on the row below, and maybe do the next couple sts a little tighter.

Try instead of pulling the last 3 or 4 stitches off with the right needle push the stitches off by moving the stitches on your left needle towards the end.
Keep the bases of those stitches as close to each other as you can.

Thank you all for the varied suggestions and the welcomes. i will definitely have a go at the different methods mentioned and will report back with future successes (hopefully!) or questions.
I quite look forward to being able to keep myself creative and active without the vein bulging out of my forehead as it has been doing this first week.

One more thing I’ve wondered, If I simply knit the first stitch of each row by going around ‘the front,’ or if I slip it off for that matter, will I be using a different method of knitting? I’ve seen scarves in the past which rolled into themselves and this is something I want to avoid at all costs. A friend mentioned that this ‘combined method’ will keep the scarf flat and wonderful, is this so?

Again, thanks so much for the prompt replies. Not even a full day and I already feel tremendously comfortable here.


There is a thing called combined knitting. It usually involves wrapping the yarn the opposite way from normal (sorry combined knitters :-)) and then knitting always into the back loops of stitches, because if you don’t your stitches will all be twisted. Some people knit merrily this way their whole lives and love it. I think it is particularly common among knitters who hold the yarn in the left hand (I hold in my left hand), because it is easier to do the purl stitch that way (I don’t knit combined though). It will however still curl when you work in stockinette (knit a row purl a row). Properly done combined knitting gives the same result as more standard “normal” knitting. ;-), and stockinette curls. It just does.

It sounds like right now you are working in garter stitch, knit every row, (and to be truthful I don’t know how they do that in combined knitting). Garter stitch doesn’t curl. It is a flat stitch, and often used along the edges of things as a border, to prevent curling. No magic in doing it combined, garter just doesn’t curl.

I don’t have anything against learning combined knitting, but I wonder if it isn’t easier to learn the standard way. Not easier in execution, but possibly easier down the road when it comes to learning how to do more complicated things. I think there may be some adjustments to be made to regular directions when you knit combined. Maybe some of the combined knitters can enlighten us on that. I think for just straight knit and purl it may have advantages. Some people learn all the different ways to knit and use the one that works best in the given situation.

Welcome to the first steps in the never ending road of learning to knit. And welcome to the forum.

In garter stitch, you just knit into the front leg like the other styles because there’s no purl row. And also with garter, there shouldn’t be any curling, because it’s garter.

Blake, if you’re calling knit one row, purl one row, garter stitch, it isn’t, it’s stockinette and it will curl.