On a circular sock machine, a pickup tool is very hand for picking up a chain of dropped stitches. Once a stitch fails to knit, because the knitting is under tension, a run happens in the blink of an eye.
In hand knitting, if you leave your knitting mid-row and the unthinkable happens, usually only a few rows come undone, not too bad. The pick-up tool is still useful for latching up the knit stitches in a jiffy, without trying to re-use your knitting needles (or find another pair mid-project while ensconsed in your comfy chair as I am in this video!)
As you can see in the video, I insert the pickup tool through the front of the knit stitch, latch on to the yarn behind it for the next row up, and pull it through the knit stitch to create the next row's knit stitch. I repeat this up the dropped column until I reach the top, and then I place the last stitch on my knitting needle to continue knitting.
The pickup tool is a sock machine needle (shown in the center of the photo below) embedded in a sculpey handle that is cooked and then coated with a satin finish. My kids and I had a great time making this set for the Ring Your Bells club!
posted 26 December 2008 at http://askthebellwether.blogspot.com/