Protecting Your Progress: Using Lifelines in Your Knitting

Protecting Your Progress_ Using Lifelines in Your Knitting.png

Today, I’m going to be talking all about using lifelines in your knitting.

I’ll be answering the three most important questions:

  1. What is a lifeline in knitting?

  2. Should you be using lifelines in your knitting?

  3. How do you go about using lifelines in your knitting?

So, what actually is a lifeline?


I vividly remember in the video game, Crash Bandicoot, you used to jump on the “Checkpoint” box, which meant if you died past a certain point in a level, you wouldn’t have to go all the way back to the beginning.

This is a pretty smart idea on the part of the people who create video games. Anyone who has played a video game knows there’s little more frustrating than getting right to the end of a super difficult level, only to get killed at the last hurdle, and then have to go back to the beginning and do the whole thing again.

Using lifelines in your knitting is like hitting the checkpoint box in Crash Bandicoot.

It’s most commonly used in complex lace knitting, as once you have loads of increases, decreases, and stitches crossing this way and that, it gets pretty difficult to figure out what you did with a stitch in order to pull it back.

A lifeline is a length of scrap yarn, that is threaded through your stitches and serves to hold them in place if anything goes wrong and you have to pull back your knitting. Once a lifeline has been placed you can pull your knitting needle out, rip back all of your work, and it won’t go any further than the scrap yarn. At this stage you just re-insert your knitting needle, and start again at the last point you know everything was okay. (Usually, this would be at the beginning of a lace repeat.)

Should you be using lifelines in your knitting?

If you don’t do any lace knitting, you may be wondering what use this is to you.

It isn't much use to you if you’re a super confident, experienced knitter who doesn’t do any lace knitting. However, if you’re a beginner, and you’re just getting to grips with knitting, I believe a lifeline is still really useful even if you're not tackling any lace projects.

Imagine you’re knitting your first project, you’ve been knitting for quite a while and everything is going well so far. Then you drop a stitch. Or you accidentally make a stitch and end up with an inexplicable hole. Basically, something untoward happens. What then? "Well, now I need to pull it back and start from scratch because I have no idea how to fix this” I hear you cry!

If you have been working on something a while, and you’re feeling a bit nervous because things are going too well, just pop yourself a lifeline in!

You're protected if the worst happens. Nothing is lost. As a bonus, the lifeline will catch a dropped stitch in its tracks so it's easier to fix.

It really is worthwhile if you’re feeling a little bit nervous that things are going to go wrong.

Okay, So I agree that a lifeline could be pretty useful for me, now HOW do I go about placing one?

  1. Take some scrap yarn that is longer than the width of the thing you’re knitting, and thread it onto a tapestry needle.

  2. Thread the needle through every single stitch on your needle from right to left.

  3. Continue knitting as normal!


Your scrap yarn should be parallel to your knitting needle. Continue to knit in exactly the same way as you always do, making sure not to knit the lifeline.

There is another method that I occasionally use, but it only works if you are using interchangeable knitting needles. I don’t know about all brands, so I can only say for certain that this works with KnitPicks, as that is what I use.

KnitPicks interchangeable circular needles have a tiny hole at the base of the needle, where the little key goes in to tighten the needle.

  1. Thread your scrap yarn through the hole at the base of the needle

  2. Knit as normal

  3. Once you have finished knitting the row, you will have a lifeline automatically placed in your stitches.

When (or if) you need to use the lifeline, just remove your knitting needle and pull the yarn back. Thread all the stitches onto your knitting needle once again and you’re ready to start where you left off!


If you would like to know more about how to improve your knitting, I've created a new course, called Knitting with Confidence. It teaches you everything you need to know in order to both prevent mistakes from happening and how to fix them if they do!


 Or, if you’re a COMPLETE newbie, and would love to learn to knit but have no idea where to start, click below to sign up for me FREE knitting course, From Newbie to Know-It-All, which teaches you everything you need to know to get started knitting!