Stitch Markers AS a Lifeline?

I’m knitting up a baby blanket, and came across the idea to clip together the first (or last?) stitches of the row together, in case I had to frog. Instead of just doing it and risking the blanket, I threw together a 2"x2" swatch, and clipped a few markers on.

Suprisingly, it worked - wouldn’t let me unravel past the markers. I did a search on these forums, and on google and didn’t find anything.

Do any of you use this method? It seems so much easier than threading a separate yarn through.

ETA: The only downside seems to be that the stitches won’t be held in place.

Uhh… I’ve used lifelines since I started knitting, but I have [I]never[/I] heard of that method.

The method used most often and the best for the knitted material is to thread a finer yarn on a yarn needle and then put it through the stitches on the needle. Then continue knitting and if you have to rip back you won’t go further than the lifeline. I suggest doing it to the stitches on the needle rather than a row that’s already knitted so you don’t miss a stitch. this method also makes a lot more sense for a large object like a blanket.

Well, that is a novel way of preventing yourself from frogging past the particular row!

However, here is one good reason a REAL lifeline is useful: it prevents all the other stitches from slipping, or popping, down a row below when you’re trying to pick them back up.

Sooner or later, you have to unravel (frog) the entire row(s) down to the ‘marked row’…and you’re gonna have a lot of “live” stitches sittin’ there, just waiting to escape.

A real lifeline lets you zip your “picking up” needle right on through…no one escapes…and then you continue on your merry way…leaving the lifeline in place until you’re sure you’re never gonna need it again as a safety net.

I still vote for the real lifeline.

I use a long piece of DMC Pearl Cotton for lifelines. It’s really easy to install, and it’s really easy to zip out. Word to the wise: use a really long lifeline. I like mine to hang out at each end about 12". No joke.

Well, I have no problem ripping back and putting sts on a needle without them dropping. As long as you don’t stretch out the piece, they don’t drop as easily as one might think. I think you’ve hit on a novel method Jinxie.

I agree with Artlady on the long tails, too. I’ve even been known to tie two long ends together although I usually only do that if I’m using unwaxed dental floss. It tends to be slippy in some yarns.

Any idea that helps me fix a mistake is a good one! In some cases, I can see this idea being much better than the original lifeline.

Thanks for this tip, Jinxie!

I’ve learned so much since I’ve joined this site, and must admit the lifeline is up there on my list of the top ten best tips I’ve gotten. I always use the unwaxed dental floss and also tie the long ends. (Yes, a bit slippery.) A lifeline will truly save you a lot of time and heartache if you find the need to frog. Anyone out there that’s never had to frog?..Case closed!:hair: Jeanie


I just tried your stitch marker method to rip back the ribbing on a pair of socks. It worked nicely in the round. Especially since the leg of my sock is stockingnette I could just latch up the couple of stitches that laddered down & didn’t make it back onto my needles.

Just wanted to say thanks for the great tip! :thumbsup:

I don’t use life lines as often as I should. Usually if it’s a simple pattern, I do like OP and just be careful with the live stitches. However, the moment I realized how useful they can be was when I had my first lace frogging experience. Live YOs are near impossible to catch…

Oh, what a great idea about those lifelines! I do have a few questions.

Jan- you said to thread a yarn needle with finer yarn and put it through the stitches on the needle. Which one, the stitches on the source needle or the ones on the working needle?

Artlady-what is a “real” lifeline that helps prevent live stitches from slipping or popping down a row below when you’re trying to pick them up? What does that mean? And how a real lifeline lets you zip up your “picking up” needle right on through? And no one can escape?

Also, what are the long tails and what does it mean to tie them together?

Can y’all explain all this to me? Pretend I’m still in kindergarden (which, being a beginner, I feel like I am.)
I’m grateful for your help.:hug:
Thank you all

Maybe I can explain a few things. A lifeline is a long piece of contrasting yarn or string or dental floss that you thread through your stitches. You usually insert it [U]after[/U] you have completely finished a row. Some suggest tying the two ends of the lifeline together so that it doesn’t inadvertently slip out of your knitting. Then if you make a mistake on any row after this, you can frog back to this one row, which you know is right and is all held in place by your lifeline.

Some people suggest inserting a lifeline on a simple row of stitches (such as an all purl row), but I’ve done it on both complex and simple rows, and it didn’t really matter. I suggest marking your pattern on the row in which you inserted the lifeline so you know exactly where you are in the pattern when you frog back, and you don’t have to try to “read” the stitches.

Here’s just one video of many that explains lifelines and shows you how to use them:

Hope that helps.

A real lifeline is a length of yarn or thread that’s inserted, left to right, into the stitches on a “particular row” that you’ve designated as a “base”.

For example, I’m working on the Japanese Feather shawl at this time. It’s a 28 row repeat. The first 14 rows swerve to the right, the last 14 rows meander to the left. Rows 11-14 and Rows 25-28 are plain st st. So Row 14 and Row 28 are good rows in which to install a lifeline. If I screw up in the lacy rows, and it’s almost impossible to fix a mistake after the fact…then I can take my work off the needles entirely, frog back to my last known (base) row…and the lifeline that’s threaded into that row will prevent me from losing any of those stitches. And since there are a lot of yarnovers and ssk’s and k2t’s…it really hard to frog back and expect that all the stitches on the needle will cooperate.

Here is a photo of my Japanese Feather shawl with the Row 14 and the Row 28 lifelines installed. (Under normal circumstances, a repeat is not 28 rows, much less really, however this pattern has 28 that are divided into two, like I said, meandering to the right on Rows 1-14, and meandering to the left on Rows 15-28. If I screwed up on Row 18, I’d just frog back to base row 14 instead of waaaay back to Row 1 of the entire thing)

Icy Blue marks Row 28. Yellow marks Row 14. (different colors are a “must” because I can’t tell which Repeat I’m in by eyeballing it)

This is my thread. It can be any type of thread, or any yarn skinnier than your project yarn. My thread is easily installed, easily pulled out. After I’ve finished Row 28…and then Row 14 again…I’ll pull out the yellow from a previous Row 14 and reuse it in the current Row 14. Kind of like “leap frog”. I don’t remove any lifeline until I feel safe that I’ve worked the current repeat correctly.

Most people install their lifelines in the last row of the repeat, the WS row which doesn’t usually have any fancy work like yarnovers, etc.

Pretend that a Row 28 is just finished knitting, and is still on the source needle. This is how you install the lifeline, left to right, pull through, leaving long tails sticking out at each end so that if the work stretches or flexes on the needle, the lifeline won’t come undone at the end, shrinking and leaving 6-10 stitches naked and unprotected.

shrinking and leaving 6-10 stitches naked and unprotected.

image of poor shivering stitches naked and unprotected…[/I]

If I know I’m going to put in a lifeline I make sure I’ve finished a row so the stitches are all on one needle. Or if you’re using circular needles just finish the row.

It doesn’t matter direction you insert the needle first. I’m right handed so thread the needle and slip it through the stitches on the left needle all the way to the end. Go around any stitch markers no through them so they can be picked up on the next row.

It’s a bit tricky knitting that first row past it. Just be careful you don’t knit the lifeline. If your lifeline is skinny yarn…think lace or fingering, crochet cotton, etc it should be easy to knit without catching it.

I just finished Row 14 on my Japanese Feather shawl…and it was time to install the yellow lifeline again. So I pulled the yellow thread out of the Row 14 from the previous repeat, and installed it in this current Row 14. Here is a photo of it. As Jan pointed out, I was careful to avoid the stitch markers. No putting lifelines through the stitch markers. A huge no-no.

A lot of knitters like to leave all the lifelines in until the entire project is done…and they just keep adding new lifelines at the end of every repeat…but I hank them out as soon as I get another lifeline installed. No more than two lifelines in my work at any given time.

Ladies, where do I begin to tell y’all how thrilled I am for all of your help! Your directions are so clear and more than helpful.

Antares, that video is very thorough. She took her time explaining how to do it and the video itself is clear and easy to follow. Thank you.:hug:

Jan, thanks for your advice, and the tip about not knitting through any markers. And being careful to not knit the lifeline…it’s little tidbits like this that I may not have considered and will save me from headaches!:wink:

Artlady, not only is your advice valuable, but seeing your beautiful Japanese Feather shawl is a real pleasure. Your directions are clear it’s so helpful to see. The colors in your shawl are gorgeous. Can we see it when it’s finished?:heart:

Y’all have given me so much help, and I’m so grateful!

Thanks for the explanation! Makes total sense now. I’d never heard of a lifeline till I joined kh. I use fairly small gauge needles (usually 3.75mm - 4.5’s) and usually a baby yarn, so thought it’d be pretty awkward to thread another piece of yarn through, but your idea of DMC is perfect. And, it’ll give me a use for that huge DMC stash in my basement from the days when I could actually SEE those little holes in the Aida cloth! :stuck_out_tongue:

I’m so glad to have found this, it’ll be a huge help - the things I knit are small (doll clothes), but I need to create as I go lots of times, and I’m not an experienced knitter, so if I use a lifeline I won’t be so hesitant about trying out my ideas. Awesome! :slight_smile: Thanks again.

I haven’t used a lifeline - yet - but do have some dental floss in my knitting equipment - in case. I have found on a previous project when I had to frog back about 50+ rows (aarrgghh) when I reached my ‘destination’ I used a much smaller needle to pick up the ‘live’ stitches. I also used some markers so I did not frog beyond what was absolutely necessary. It worked just fine. Oh, I also did this very slowly, project flat on a surface in good light. Saved the day for me. I can see where a lifeline would be invaluable in a lace project, which I’ve yet to do. I guess it boils down to whatever works for you.