Knitting lifelines: what they are and why you need them!

Tired of having to undo all your hard work when you notice a mistake a few rows back? We'll we've got a quick tip every knitter needs to know, to save you hours of frustration!

How to use lifelines in knitting

What is a lifeline in knitting?

A lifeline is a spare bit of thread or yarn that sits in your knitting and saves your stitches. No knitting, whether it’s lace or cables, should be without a lifeline.

How to use a lifeline in knitting


You Will Need

  • Yarn
  • Knitting needles
  • Yarn needle

Total time:

Step 1

Firstly, you’ll need to measure a bit of spare yarn or thread and make sure that it is several inches longer than your WIP is wide (to ensure it doesn’t come loose).

Step 2

Next, thread this spare yarn or thread through every live stitch, using a blunt needle (make sure that you have reached the end of a row before inserting a lifeline). Make a note of the row that you inserted your lifeline on in case you have to rip back to it.

How to insert a lifeline into your knitting
How to add a lifeline to your knitting.

Step 3

It’s a good habit to get into to move your lifeline every ten or so rows – if you’re a little worried about removing your lifeline, simply insert a new one into your live stitches before removing the old one.


Ripping back to your lifeline and picking up your stitches

Knitting lifelines tutorial

Hopefully you won’t need to do this, but if you do notice a mistake after you’ve inserted your lifeline and continued working, there’s no need to panic! Simply remove your needle from the live stitches and gently pull on your yarn to undo all (yes all) of the stitches after the lifeline. Once you reach where you inserted your lifeline it will prevent you from pulling any further. This is when you carefully begin picking up stitches from the spare yarn or thread.

Insert your needle from the side that doesn’t have the working yarn attached, this way you will end up with the point of the needle at the right end. Some stitches might need a little wiggle to get back on the needle, but once they’re all back on you can continue working from where you inserted your lifeline.