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Fixing Our Own Knitting Mistakes

Alexis Hoy

Our March meeting was a talk all about fixing your own knitting mistakes, or starting down the path to understanding what's going on with your knitting oopsies. This discussion cannot happen without some knowledge of how to read your knitting. Alexis covered this topic nicely last year, and summarized her notes in a handy blog post - check it out here. This post references another great resource which I used when creating my talk this month, a great series of blog posts from Telana Winters:

Reading Your Knitting Part 1

Reading Your Knitting Part 2

Reading Your Knitting Part 3

Seriously, read them. If you're at all unsure about what your knitting is telling you, and you find yourself unable to spot what went wrong in your knitting, give them a read.

With some of the basics of understanding what your knitting is telling you covered, we can move on to actually fixing our mistakes. Let's start with some of the tools you need:

These are great things to keep handy in your knitting bag. I'm guilty of never having a crochet hook around when I need one, and I'd like to point out that all of the techniques mentioned below can be done with a knitting needle (and sometimes a helpful set of fingers to assist). A crochet hook makes it a heck of a lot easier, so it might be worth it to keep one in your bag, or get one of those handy keychain ones.

Our first fixing option is unknitting, literally undoing a stitch in the exact opposite way it was made. One. Stitch. At. A. Time. As you can probably guess, this is great for a mistake a few stitches back, MAYBE even a few rows back, but not for one that you realized you made at the very beginning of the project.

Not at all tricky, and gets the job done. But what about mistakes that are farther back? Well, we can drop a stitch on purpose to travel back to the mistake vertically, and then work our way back up to the current row. If you're newer to knitting, dropping a stitch is likely your number one fear, but it's really nothing to worry about. You're in control here, and your friendly neighbourhood crochet hook gets you back to where you were quickly.

The particulars about working back up to your current row depend on whether you're recreating knit or purl stitches:

YouTube will help you a lot here if you want a visual guide. Here are the videos I showed during the talk:

Creating Knit Stitches

Creating Purl Stitches

If the level of your mistake calls for something more drastic, you're looking at ripping out the whole thing. Steps can be taken to make this a little less awful, including picking up the stitches below your error BEFORE you rip out the stitches.

Don't fret if you just ripped your needle out before thinking about how you would get those stitches back on the needle. You can fix any wonky stitch orientation after you get the stitches on the needle. Here's a lovely video that shows the mechanics of doing this.

Alexis shared a great technique for unknitting a few rows at a time, rather than having to rip out your work. This technique involves putting your needle into the stitch two or three stitches below the current row, and following the same process described above for unknitting the stitch. The trickiest part to deal with is the "ladder" of yarn that starts to appear as you work your way through the round/row. But once you're back to the beginning of the round, all the ladders let go and are simply your working yarn again.

A few particular situations were focused on when it comes to fixing errors; miscrossed cables, placing a lifeline (great for lacework!), and mistakes in colourwork.

This one follows the same methods as ladder down to fix a stitch, except recreating the stitches as you ladder back up involves re-cabling the stitches to correct the error. Keep in mind that if your cable has travelled away from the original set of 4 or 6 (or more) stitches in the cable, you need to ladder down from where the stitches have traveled.

Placing a lifeline can be done as you knit a round, or placed in after the fact. Cheryl shared a great tip she's used, she attaches a sewing thread to the small hole in her interchangeable needles and knits the next round of knitting. The thread comes along for the ride and adds the needed lifeline without the bulk of a strand of yarn and without the extra effort of threading it through each stitch by hand.

This final section was my favourite one of the talk, where it started out being about using duplicate stitch to create faux stitches to cover your mistakes, and turned into a nice little segue on mending and darning your knitting.


Duplicate stitch is a legitimate way to fix your mistakes. Mistake in your colourwork pattern? Duplicate stitch the correct colour later! Miscrossed cable? Duplicate stitch some faux stitches going the correct way!

And my favourite thing from this talk - darning! I love darning, and I didn't realize there were different ways to darn. I tested out all these techniques on some mittens that needed a patch job.

For more detailed instructions on all of these techniques, check out the resources below.

Cubley, K. (ed.) Free Guide to Fixing Knitting Mistakes for All Knitters. Knitting Daily.

Happy knitting,


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