7 ways to fix a knitting mistake
No knitter ever gets beyond making the odd error, but the more you knit, the more ways you discover to fix a tangle. Drawing on her own extensive experience, Elizabeth Bagwell describes some common and unusual ways to fix knitting mistakes.
In my last post, I wrote about how to fix a dropped stitch, and this week I’m once again drawing on my years of experience in screwing up my knitting. Most of the knitters and non-knitters I know think I’m pretty good at the craft, as I eventually turn out works that look pleasing and complex. That’s because they don’t get to see all the times I unravel something, or the projects left lying in a dark drawer. Here are a few of the tricks I use to get a project back on the go.
‘Tink’ is ‘knit’ spelled backwards and that’s what this is. Undo each stitch, one at a time as carefully as you knit it. It’s a painstaking method that’s best for recent screw ups.
2. Unravelling or frogging
Pull the needles out and take advantage of the fact that most yarn comes undone easily. There’s an odd, vicious satisfaction to reducing a problematic project to yarn. You can either rip back (unravel) to a certain row, then pick up the stitches with the needles again, or go right back to the start. Don’t try this with mohair or other really sticky yarns – you’ll wind up with a knot.
This video shows you a way to frog a row (or seven or seventy) without letting the yarn off the needles.
3. Ignore it
Seriously. Take the project to your knitting group, and if they can’t spot the mistake, ignore it. It’s fine. This is particularly sensible if you’re giving the item to a non-knitter and you’ve got a deadline coming.
4. Deliberately drop stitches
This is a good technique for fixing a mistake in a rib or a miss-crossed cable. It doesn’t work so well for colourwork, bobbles or lace as they’re more complex, and you can wind up with extra yarn or not enough (if you turn a black stitch white, or add an increase or decrease) which can be as unsatisfying as the mistake itself.
5. Duplicate stitch or Swiss darn over it
It’s easy to do the odd stitch in the wrong colour. If you notice it too late to easily tink back (1) then ignore it (3) until you’ve cast off. Go back with a bit of extra yarn in the right colour, and duplicate stitch over it. This is a perfectly reputable technique, and some designers use it for the entire colourwork portion of projects. The Yarn Harlot even shows you how you can use this to fix a miss-crossed cable.
6. Cut it out
Knitting unravels if a single stitch is cut, and you can take advantage of that to fix a mistake. If you don’t spot a miss-crossed cable or a misplaced bobble until you’ve cast off, then cutting may be the easiest choice. Cut a single stitch on each row you need to alter, and carefully unravel the work to either side of the mistake. You want to leave a tail long enough that you can weave the ends in securely. Using fresh yarn (more ends to weave in, I’m afraid) fix the mistake. Close the gap using Kitchener stitch. There’s a good description of fixing a miss-crossed cable this way at I Need Orange.
7. Sew it up
Occasionally, you’ll get a mysterious hole in your knitting In this case, sewing it shut is a good solution as it not only closes the hole but also strengthens the knitting. Typically, these holes occur when there’s a join (such as when you’re picking up stitches along a heel flap), if you turned the work accidentally (and then you’ll see an incomplete row as well) or if you added an accidental yarn over (and then you’ll have an extra stitch). To sew it shut, simply use a thread of matching yarn, follow the shape of the stitch, and pull it tight shut. Secure the ends and you’re done.
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Last updated: March 6th, 2015.