How to Fix Common Knitting Mistakes

Eventually, knowing how to fix knitting mistakes becomes relevant to every knitter — here are some tips and tricks to help you handle common mistakes.

| January 2015

  • Fixing a cable
    How to fix a mistake in a cable: 1. Second cable crossing below needle twists the wrong way. 2. Knit to the beginning of the cable. Unravel the cable stitches to mistake. 3. Use double-pointed needles to work back up to the top correctly.
    Photo by John Polak
  • Fixing a row mistake
    Correcting a whole row: 1. Mistake to be corrected: Here, an entire purl row was worked in stockinette fabric. 2. Snip a stitch near the beginning of the row. 3. Use a blunt-tipped needle to pick out the row stitch by stitch. 4. Place the stitches above and below the opening on needles, and work Kitchener stitch to replace the purled row.
    Photo by John Polak
  • The Knowledgeable Knitter
    "The Knowledgeable Knitter" by Margaret Radcliffe is an exploration of the options available to every knitter at every step of knitting a sweater, from choosing or substituting yarn to casting on, modifying patterns, and finishing techniques.
    Cover courtesy Storey Publishing

  • Fixing a cable
  • Fixing a row mistake
  • The Knowledgeable Knitter

The Knowledgeable Knitter (Storey Publishing, 2014) by Margaret Radcliffe offers an in-depth tour of a sweater-knitting project to show the choices and options open to every knitter at every step. Radcliffe demonstrates not only how to execute these techniques but why you might choose one over another, allowing you to make tailored, elegant items that are beautiful reflections of your personal style.

Dealing with Mistakes

Actual mistakes in the knitting are, of course, something you’ll have to cope with. This includes things like dropped stitches, extra stitches created by accident, mistakes in pattern stitches, and variations in gauge.

There are some you’ll absolutely need to address: Changes in gauge, for instance, will affect the ultimate utility of the garment — it may come out too big or too small to be comfortable. Losing or adding stitches inadvertently can also change the size of the garment, making it narrower or wider. Some mistakes impair the integrity of the fabric: Dropped stitches, if not secured, will continue to unravel, creating holes in the garment. A mistake that affects the stitch count will also make things more difficult for you when you get to future shaping in the garment, because you won’t be able to follow the instructions exactly; it may be possible to adjust for this, but it’s frustrating and will slow you down.

On the other hand, there are mistakes that are just aesthetic — they affect the way a garment looks, but don’t affect its fit or function. This would include things like accidentally working the same row of a pattern twice, substituting a knit for a purl in a textured pattern, or working the wrong color in stranded knitting. With these sorts of problems you have three choices: leave it as is, disguise it, or fix it. You’ll need to decide how much time you want to spend on these “nonessentials.” Unfortunately, these are sometimes the mistakes that are most visible and may drive you crazy. If you’re not sure, you can always leave the problem alone for now and plan to disguise or fix it later if it continues to bother you.



In the following sections I offer specific prescriptions for ways to cope with a wide variety of mistakes. Some fixes are easier and take less time than others. Before you jump in and start working on the more complex ones, take a little while to inspect your knitting carefully, diagnose and analyze what’s really wrong, then plan the best way to fix it. You may be very uncomfortable with some of the suggestions (like cutting or unraveling a section in the middle of the work and reknitting it). It can also be difficult to predict how long a specific solution will take; sometimes it’s actually quicker to just rip out and do it over than it is to spend hours correcting one small problem in the middle of the fabric.

In light of the annoyance that even aesthetic mistakes can cause, I have also provided some suggestions for detecting these mistakes as soon as possible, when they’re easier to fix.






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