A lifeline is a way to unravel your knitting safely. It’s an excellent tool for rescuing your knitting when you’ve made a mistake.
Lifelines works like this: using a tapestry needle, insert a strand of yarn into a row of stitches. This strand of yarn is your “lifeline.”
Then continue knitting as normal.
If you make a mistake, unravel your knitting to the lifeline, which is holding your stitches.
Place the stitches back on the needle. Count them to make sure there’s no stitch left behind.
Now you can continue knitting without having to unravel to the beginning of your work. Phew!
When you’ve finished your project, grab the lifeline by one end and pull it straight out of the knitting. The lifeline has served its purpose.
I like to think of lifelines like knitting insurance, or a rewind button.
Whenever you’re in doubt, insert a lifeline. There’s practically no downside. If a mistake happens, a lifeline will save your butt time and time again.
Some Lifeline Tips
- Lifelines can be yarn, string, and even unwaxed dental floss!
- It’s ideal for a lifeline to be in a contrasting color so you can spot it easily.
- It’s also ideal for a lifeline to be the same yarn weight (or thinner) than the yarn you’re knitting with. This ensures that the lifeline doesn’t stretch out the stitches it’s inserted into.
- If you’re having a hard time spotting the stitches on the lifeline, pull up gently on the lifeline. The hidden stitches will emerge, ready for picking.
- Make sure you don’t split the yarn when you’re picking up stitches. A blunt-end tapestry needle is preferable to a sharp one for this purpose.
How Often to Insert a Lifeline?
How often you insert a lifeline is a matter of preference.
If you’re starting a new pattern and are feeling uncertain, insert a lifeline every few rows until you get the hang of the pattern.
Often, I’ll insert a lifeline before a new “phase” of a pattern. For instance, I’ll insert a lifeline before a hat decrease or a new color change.
Lifelines in Knitting Video
For an in-depth video tutorial and tips on inserting lifelines in the round and when knitting cables and lace, watch the video below.