A lifeline is a thread that is added to a row of knitting which acts as a safety net in case you need to unravel it back. 

You can add as many lifelines as you want to your project. They are especially helpful when it comes to a complicated lace pattern or brioche knitting. To remove a lifeline, simply pull it out.

How to Add a Lifeline to your Knitting

You will need:

  • A large, blunt tapestry needle
  • A thin yarn or thread in a contrast colour

Thread the needle and insert into the stitches on the knitting needle (or the cable if you are working on a circular needle). Run the yarn needle through each stitch, pulling the lifeline along the row. Bypass any stitch markers - don't thread the lifeline through these as you will still need to be able to move these on the following rows. 

When you get to the end, leave a long tail of lifeline before cutting. Make sure you leave a long tail at the other end too.

Double check that all stitches have been caught by the lifeline. Carry on knitting!

Unravelling Back to a Lifeline

Hopefully you won't need to do this, but should you make a mistake and need to unravel back to your lifeline, this is how it's done.

Slide all of your stitches off the needle and remove any stitch markers. Unravel your work to the point of the lifeline.

Once you get to it you will see how it acts as a barrier to stop you unravelling any further. All of the stitches on the lifeline row are held in place.

To add the stitches back to the needle, insert the needle into each live stitch on the lifeline, following its path along the row.

Double check that all stitches have been put back on the needle and there are none still sat on the lifeline. Otherwise, when you pull the lifeline out, and stitches not secured on the needle will become dropped stitches.

Carry on knitting!