One of the most common problems new knitters have is that their knitting doesn't stay the same width as they work because they are inadvertently either adding or subtracting stitches as they go. This can result in unintentional holes appearing in their knitting pattern, which no one wants. Fortunately, there are a few common reasons why this happens and they are easily corrected.
A common way of accidentally adding stitches to a knitting project is by wrapping the yarn over the needle when you aren't forming a stitch.
This is known as a yarn over and is used deliberately in lace patterns and other patterns to make decorative holes and increase the number of stitches in a piece of knitting.
It's not very attractive, however, when you aren't doing it on purpose. Yarn overs will also give you more stitches to work with, which could mess up your pattern and will certainly make your work progressively wider.
The opposite problem can also occur. If you end up with fewer stitches than you started with, you may have accidentally dropped a stitch or you worked two stitches together.
This commonly happens when switching between knits and purls in the same row. Remember to always move the yarn from the front to the back between the stitches, rather than by wrapping it around the needle.
Another way it can happen is if you take the working yarn over the needle as you begin a row of knitting so that it looks like another stitch. Sometimes if you pull up on the working yarn at the end of the row, you'll see the stitch from the row below will begin to look like a stitch you should knit, which will add a stitch without making such a dramatic hole.
How to Pick Up a Dropped Stitch
How to Fix Holes in Knitting
There's only one way to remedy this situation, and that's to unknit (through procedures knitters lovingly refer to as tinking or frogging) beyond the hole and start knitting again from that point. Another option is to work to the stitch you made with the yarn over and drop it on purpose until it no longer exists, but this will cause loose stitches as the work tries to absorb that extra yarn, so ripping out is the best course of action.
If you are practicing and don't mind the holes or don't want to rip out, you can work a knit 2 together at some point in the row to get down to your original stitch count if you want. Or leave it.
If accidental yarn overs are a consistent problem for you, count the number of stitches on your needle every few rows. If you’ve got more than you started with, odds are you slipped in a yarn over at some point.
Making Holes on Purpose
Holes can also be used for decorative purpose in knitting by playing with the gauge of yarn (this could another reason you might have holes because you could be using a larger needle than you should for the pattern). For instance, the yarn can be knit on larger needles than normal to make an open fabric. This is a fun effect, and using yarn on different sized needles is a great way to learn about yarn.
You can also drop stitches on purpose for a decorative effect in your knitting, as we did with the dropped stitch belt and fun dropped-stitch shawl, which is perfect for summer.