Knit, knit, knit. do you see the connection. Tink is knit spelled backwards. For knitters it means unraveling your work – usually to fix a mistake, although sometimes you just don’t like the way it looks. Another way of saying this is to frog your work. It’s called “frogging” because you simply “rip it” out – seriously. As you may have guessed, today’s topic is about fixing mistakes. There are a few ways to fix mistakes and the way you choose usually depends on three things:
- How big is the mistake – one stitch or 100?
- How far have you gone before realizing the mistake?
- Your experience level.
For beginner knitters, tinking is usually the way to go fr small mistakes on the same row or the row below. Once the mistake is more than a couple of rows below where you are, you’ll usually want to frog it. Experienced knitters won’t frog until it’s a big mistake more than a few rows below. Let’s look at some of these techniques then see how we can prevent having to use them.
The easiest mistake to fix is one in the row you’re working on. If you catch it in the same row, you simply tink back to the mistake, fix it, and continue on with your knitting. To tink, stick the left-hand needle into the loop of the stitch from the previous row and pull gently on the yarn attached to the ball so that the loop from the row you were just working comes out. Repeat this process until you get to the stitch you need. When you tink you need to follow the same rules as when knitting. If you’re tinking a purl stitch make sure the yarn is in front of your work and in the back for a knit stitch. If you don’t, the yarn will get caught between the loops on your needle.
The second easiest mistake to fix is a mis-worked stitch. If you look at your work and realize that you purled where you should have knit or vica versa, find a crochet hook similar in size to the needles you’re working with. I usually go one size smaller with the crochet hook as I find they match better that way. Go to the column where the mistake stitch is and drop it from your needle. You should have a little loop where the stitch from the row below is just hanging in mid-air. Lightly tug on the bar below this loop to drop this stitch as well. Continue doing this until you reach the stitch you want to change. Using your crochet hook, go through the loop and grab the bar just above it. Pull the bar through the loop and voila – you’ve recreated your knit stitch. Continue doing this until you get to the top row again and place the last stitch on your needle. If you need to re-create a purl stitch, make sure the bar is front of the loop and go through the loop from the back – just as if you were purling. If you don’t like this you can turn your work around and re-make a knit stitch, which will be a purl stitch on the other side. This is also the way you would pick up a dropped stitch.
The third and last method we’re going to look at today is frogging. Now as I said before, you’re just going to “rip it” back to your mistake. If you’re a beginner and you don’t want to risk dropped stitches and complicating this procedure, frog your work back to the row before your mistake and then tink the last row. For everybody else, proceed as follows. Take a safety-pin or strand of yarn and pass it through the last stitch on the row after your mistake. This is a way of stopping your frogging. Now simply take the work off your needles and rip it back. You can go quite quickly when ripping it back, but slow down as you approach the safety-pin. When you get to it, simply remove it and then carefully place the live stitches back on your needle. You should now be ready to knit again and hopefully you won’t make the same mistake twice!
So how can we prevent mistakes? Well, truthfully, we can’t. Everybody makes them. I actually find that by learning how to fix mistakes, I make fewer of them because I’m not worried about it and can relax more when I’m knitting. You can try to reduce your mistakes in the following ways:
- Work carefully – not fast. Speed in knitting develops over time and through muscle memory. Once your finger know what they’re supposed to be doing, you’ll find that you don’t have to look at your work as often and you pace will quicken. Rushing this process however leads to dropped stitches and other mistakes that actually slow you down in the end.
- Use lifeline. See the post I put up a few days ago about improving your knitting for a full description of lifelines.
- Check your work regularly. When doing more complicated patterns,check your work on a regular basis to make sure you haven’t crisscrossed your cables, dropped stitches, or added or reduced your stitch numbers.
- Use stitch markers. When necessary, use stitch markers to mark areas in your knitting where you need to increase or decrease.
- Count your rows. Whether you use a row counter or pencil and paper. keeping track of your rows is essential – especially when working increases on a sleeve.
- Pace yourself. Knowing how long you can go before needing a break is vital to keeping your work as error free as possible. It also reduces boredom and allows you to go longer overall as you can stretch your fingers and body on a regular basis.
- Concentrate. I know it sounds silly, but until you get used to a particular pattern, try not to knit where you will be easily distracted. Only you will be able to decide this.
Those are some common mistakes in knitting and how to fix them. You can Google “fixing knitting mistakes” to get video demonstrations of what I’ve described here. As I said before there are more and we’ll cover some of them in a future posting.