Well. That was lucky

Last night I was knitting merrily along on Siren Song, and I was thinking about what I’d write today about it.  I was having the hardest time thinking of anything even remotely interesting.  Projects like this aren’t exactly scintillating Blog Fodder. What am I supposed to say about it? Big knitting. Still green. Going well. Still at it. There’s nothing to say about the thing, and I’m thinking about that, and watching a movie and all of a sudden, I feel something funny in my hands. The rhythm of the knitting has gotten a little wonky. I look down, and sure enough, there’s a mistake and it’s a pretty big one. The first thing I think is “crap, I’ll have to fix that, it’s super noticeable” and the second thing I think is “Oh! Now I have something to blog.”  I went to bed then (because mistakes in lace are a good way to tell it’s bedtime) and this morning I set about fixing it.

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As obvious as I think the mistake is, I bet that it’s not really jumping out at you.  It’s in the middle of the shot, starting about 15 stitches from the right. Things get weird for about 30 stitches, and then sort themselves out again.  I poke around for a few minutes, diagnosing what’s happened, and I work out that three rows ago, I made a tiny but important mistake. The pattern’s a repeat of four stitches at this point, and apparently I failed to count that high correctly.  (Crushing, but true.) Somehow I didn’t notice, and there’s three long rows piled on top of the error. The rows, I’m sure I have mentioned, are really long – more than 350 stitches per row, and the mistake is just about three rows back. There’s no way I’m tinking back more than a thousand stitches. It’s just not going to happen.  Here’s what I do instead.

I knit over to the place where the incorrect section starts, and then – using a spare circular, I slip all of the stitches involved in the mistake onto the new needle.  Correct stitches stay on the original needle.  See what I mean?

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Then, working end to end on the new needle, I tink just those stitches -the ones involved in the mistake.  The good stitches wait on the original needle.

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When I’m done, I’ve got a big loop of yarn free…

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and because this is fine yarn and I’ll be pulling multiple rows out, I take a second to label that strand of yarn with its row number.  This one is/was row #4 on the chart, so I write that on it. The stitches on the needle are still wrong, so I tink another row out.

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I label that too. Things are still not right, so back I go, one more row.  When I’ve got three rows pulled back, I go get the chart, and figure out where I am. I’ve pulled out what was a row four, and a three, and a two… so I need to knit across these stitches with row two of the chart.  I know where I am in the repeat by checking the stitches still on the old needle above, so I just pick up the strand of yarn labeled “two” and knit row two of the chart, using the loop as my yarn source.

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It’s a little bit awkward, and it gets a tiny bit tricky as the loop gets shorter and shorter, but it beats the snot out of tinking back a thousand stitches, so I’m cool. When I’m done, I pull the circular through to the right, go back to the beginning of that section of stitches, and knit across row three of the chart with the yarn labelled “three”.

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At the end, I repeat it with the yarn for row four, and bingo. Everything is fixed and tidy, and correct, and it only took about 15 minutes, and wasn’t scary at all, and is so much better than going back three rows would have been.

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Ta dah! You’d never know it had surgery, and I got a not-too-shabby post out of it while I was at it.


334 thoughts on “Well. That was lucky

  1. I love that you would deliberately make a mistake so you would have something to write to us about and use bit as a a teachable moment too…..

    actually that was pretty cool

  2. I was knitting the pi shawl when I noticed I made a mistake about 4 inches below where I currently was. I did the same thing as you, ripping down to the mistake correcting it and knitting back up – my thought was that if it did not work I would have ripped it out anyways to correct and if it did work I saved myself a boatload of stitches and time – and did I ever feel chuffed with my mad skills when I fixed it without ripping the whole thing out!

  3. That was amazing! I’ve done similar repairs, but was never brave enough to try it with the combination of fine yarn and lacy pattern! Gorgeous! Loved the idea of labeling the strands… ewe rock!

  4. I have a question. Where were you the last time I messed up a section of lace several rows back and ended up fixing it a column of stitches at a time with a crochet hook? Believe me, it took a lot longer than 15 minutes and put me right off knitting lace.

    • I wish I’d been there! Crochet hooks are handy for vertical errors, or spots where you’ve got just one or two stitches put wrong, but tinking back a section and then knitting it correctly is way easier for larger errors.

  5. I taught myself this techniques a few years ago, purely out of stubborn refusal to red it the perfectly good parts.

    But the LABELS!!! How many times have I knitted the loops in the wrong order? Putting some sticky notes in my basket today!

    This is why you are a professional! You figured out a fix AND figured out how to refine the fix. Making it as valuable (maybe more so) than just knitting correctly in the first place! Thank you!

  6. This might be a bone head question, but I am not seeing how you could tink just a little bit…. on the first row, yes, but after that, how do you “release” the yarn directly below, without the yarn wanting to go with the rest of the row (the part you’ve left on the original needles?) I can see dropping those stitches, like any other dropped stitch, but I’m not visualizing how you’d do that with a needle…. maybe I need to actually do it, to understand….

    • I’m having the same problem. Obviously it does work, because Stephanie did it, but I can’t picture it, either.
      But then I frequently can’t figure out how a section of a pattern works until I get there, so perhaps this is another such case!

      • I think you have to just do it to see how it goes. It’s not any different than dropping a couple of stitches & letting them run down, except that it’s a bit more controlled in that you’re catching the live stitch on the row below as you’re tinking each stitch. Steph, correct me if I’m wrong.

        • Stitches run vertically, not horizontally. So you just find the edge stitches that are not involved in the problem at all, and tink the ones in between. The other stitches stay magically OK. It’s like a miracle.

          • i end up twisting the stitches when I frog back a couple of rows. Have never gotten it right. Sigh.

          • true, but they’re connected horizontally…..i can see how it would be easy to drop them, not sure how easy to pick them up with a needle beyond the first row… maybe i need to knit a swatch and practice…

          • Denise, something that may help is to remember that the stitch’s right leg goes in front. when the stitch is free from a needle, it looks like a loop, and if you stab your needle through it so that the leg on the right goes to the /front/ of your needle (left in back) it will (probably) help with the twisted-ness!

    • I had the same thought as you so I went back and had another look at the photos. The yarn that was labelled had separate yarn loops not one big loop marked at intervals as I had first thought. I assume that looking at the back of the work the yarn loops would have had a ladder like effect (only with really long, floppy rungs…)

    • Denise- years ago Annie Modesitt talked about getting all the loops on the needle by any means neseccary and then fixing them as you go along on that first row, because it’s more important to pick them all up than to worry about if they are turned. Ever since I read that it freed something in my mind and I don’t worry about twisting them any more as long as they are all there. Hope this helps. 🙂

  7. I did something like that when I discovered that I’d mis-crossed a 12-stitch-wide multi-cord cable about 8 rows back on an aran sweater. Very proud of myself.

  8. That was GREAT!!! I always frogged the whole thing back if it was more than 1 row because I could never keep the loops of yarn (from the frogged rows) in order. I bow to your genius and I will shameless use this the next time (oh and for sure there will be a next time).

  9. And pinned. This is such a useful trick! Glad you were able to save yourself from the massive tink and teach us something in the process.

      • The labelling of strands is brilliant. Having done yarn gymnastics to fix quite a few projects and mixing up the strands I have never clued into labelling them. What did you use? It looks like tape and I can see that leading to a pile of trouble…. or felt.

        • I am inclined to think of the narrow post-its we use to mark sections of documents or books. Just fold the sticky end on to the other end and you have a loop. But a word of advice: I would only trust 3M post-its here, because of the risks. None of the knock-off post-its I have used (Staples, Avery, etc) have glue that’s as good as 3Ms.

          • Of course! Why did that not occur to me? I have a serious tendency to overthink things. Thank you for simplifying my life.

  10. Fabulous! Last time I tried to do something similar, it was laceweight silk on a loose gauge (and I was on vacation in Costa Rica, as it happens). Somehow in the knitting back, my gauge was off and I was never able to wiggle the stitches back into a semblance of neat and tidy (even though silk thread). The whole thing sits in time out, still, 4 years later. But I also had great spinning fun on that trip so all is not lost.

    • Go ahead and finish it and then give it a good blocking. The tension problem will even out in the blocking. Ask me how I know…
      Julie in San Diego

  11. I have dropped down like this to fix a mistake before, but I’ve never thought to label the strands of yarns — it’s genius! The biggest problem I always have with this method is grabbing the correct strand of yarn to knit each row I’m fixing. It’s a problem no more. Thanks for the tip!

  12. I’ve dropped stitches to fix a mis-cross cable, but I’ve never thought to tink like this. Totally freakin’ brilliant & not so scary when you show it your way. I love the labeling rows thing. I’ve screwed up my pickup order a couple of times because I couldn’t easily tell where I was.

  13. I’ve done this before, but I’ve never thought of labelling the yarn. That would certainly simplify it. I just tried to find the right one visually, which was do-able but fussy.

  14. “Because mistakes in lace are a good way to tell it’s bedtime” — (or in knitting generally or other tricky tasks) — I need to post this somewhere. Usually when I start making those mistakes I’m too tired to remember they mean it’s bedtime!

    Now I must touch the clock (bedtime?) to post!

    • I sew at night more than knit (which is more my on the go hobby), and my husband doesn’t even bat an eye anymore when I say “that’s one screw up too many, goodnight.”

  15. I think you are bloody brilliant. I almost want to make a mistake just to see if I could fix it … but I’m not going to. I’m going to have a glass of wine instead.

    • You make me laugh. I am assuming you and the Harlot are friends which makes your comments hilarious. This post of hers made me feel totally inadequate as a knitter though!

      • I was reading through her archives (again) and realized she started it in 2004. 2004! That was 12 YEARS AGO. That poor gansey is going to be in college before it’s finished (at this rate)

  16. This is the point where I would have put the thing away and never picked it up again. I have a number of these going….. 😉

  17. That. Is. Awesome. You just saved me so much future aggravation when I (inevitably) make a tiny mistake in a project with hundreds of stitches! Thank you!

  18. You are so smart. And I am totally going to steal that trick when the time comes (which I know it will). I especially like the labelling of free yarn strands. Wouldn’t have thought of that bit.

  19. This is brilliant. You are brilliant. That is all.

    (Okay, that’s not all. This is seriously life-changing. What a fantastic technique! Holy mackerel! Other superlatives! &c!)

  20. Coincidentally, my big knitting project yesterday was to redo a cable 21 rows down in a pair of socks. I was able to get away with only dropping the stitches from half the cable (4 stitches), thread the wayward section to the correct side, and then proceeded to redo the 4 stitches (which included 4 2×2 cable crosses in the remaining 20 rows). Rather fiddly in the small diameter of a sock — I found the use of a small crochet hook extremely useful in the repair. I think it was much faster than ripping back and reknitting those entire 21 rows.

  21. That was brilliant! Would it work on any project? I’m doing a striped scarf in ribbing and I’ve tried to ignore the one little stitch that got purled instead of knit, because I don’t want to undo a bunch of inches of a project for one lousy stitch! But it bugs me every time I look at it…

    • It would definitely work with a scarf. If it’s only one stitch that got messed up, then you only need to drop the stitches in the rows above it.

    • This is one you can do with a crochet hook. Just follow the vertical line of stitches up from the mistake, drop the single stitch when you get to the top, and run it down past the mistake. Then work the stitches back up correctly. Maybe practise on a swatch first?

  22. Labeling the yarn strands is brilliant. Actually, knitting lace is brilliant, but that’s beyond my ken. I will think of you when I’m in near paralysis over picking up single stitches when I make socks (after they’ve fallen off the dpns). As always, Thank you! for showing me/us the possibilities of this wonderful art/craft/science.

  23. This whole idea is brilliant. The labels are so obvious we’re all wondering why we didn’t think of those. The other genius part no one has mentioned yet is separating the good parts from the parts needing fixed. Am I the only one who would have tried (and likely failed) to do this on the original needles?

  24. I have successfully done exactly that without labeling the rows, but I wouldn’t have had a headache at the end if I had labeled them. 🙂

  25. I have just recently put the Aurinko shawl I’m knitting into time out. I apparently dropped a stitch, but it didn’t run and I didn’t notice, and I merrily knit another 10 rows before I did notice. My rows are about 550 stitches each at this point. I tried to pick up the dropped stitch with a crochet hook, but just couldn’t figure it out. I couldn’t put in an afterthought lifeline because, being a very novice knitter, I don’t know how to put a lifeline through kfb stitches. I thought I was going to have to pull all the stitches off, rip out 11 rows, cross my fingers, and pray I could pick up all 550 stitches again. Hence why the shawl was in time out for now.

    Stephanie … you might just have saved my shawl and my sanity. Thank you!!

  26. Yeah, I would have painfully tinked back the three rows (1000+ sts, by Shire Reckoning)……but I don’t do surgery of that magnitude all that well. I can drop a couple down to fix a mixed up knit or purl stitch a few rows back…but not like that.

    You’re magic, aren’t you?

  27. Thanks for the suggestion to label the strands. I’ve done this a few times, and find that it is easier if I move from the sofa (chesterfield to you) to a table with good lighting and no distractions or cats.

  28. Label the yarn as it’s undone! duh! Always such a pain getting those straight & I never thought about doing that. Thanks for being so much more clever in your mistakes than me!

  29. I’ve done this lace surgery before (read, everytime I knit lace) but have never thought to use another set of needles or labels. I’ve gotten used to doing it the hard way (because I can’t count) but this will definitely shorten my time in lace-correcting purgatory.

  30. Because lace looks wonky, especially in variegated yarn, until it’s blocked, I probably wouldn’t have noticed the mistake until casting off and blocking. By then, even if I’d known of your clever method, I’d be so discouraged by the thought of tinking back so many rows, though partial ones. Most likely, I’d have put the shawl in time out, hoping the knitting gnomes would fix it for me. Those gnomes have never visited my home, but I keep hoping!

  31. I’ve done this by pinning the loose strands to a piece of cardboard, and as I recall, I worked each stitch back up with a crochet hook. I never thought to use a seperate circular and labels. I’ll echo all the other “brilliant”s because it really is.

    You have been quite the inspiration to really look at my knitting and not be afraid. I hear many new knitters say, “I was scared to start,” or “I’m scared to try to fix it.” Thank you for demonstrating so many mistakes and how to fix them over the years – it’s empowering because it not only teaches us how to fix it, but that even someone who’s been knitting their whole life can screw up. 😉

  32. The first time I tried that was on a section of a blanket with tons of cables. It felt impossible, but it worked and made me ridiculously proud of myself. The only problem…it probably took me longer to figure out what I was doing than if I had ripped the whole thing back, BUT I learned so much from the experience and have never been afraid of yarn since.

  33. O.K., I think my brain exploded about halfway through that explanation! Makes perfect sense…… I think…. The results do speak for themselves though:-)

  34. This was definitely a master class in fixing mistakes. Makes me ashamed of the little tiny one I’m trying to ignore in my Amiga sweater, and I think I’ll do the decent thing tonight and just fix it. Thanks for the boot in the backside.

  35. I am sending this post to my knitterly friends. You are brilliant, and this is awesome – especially the part about the stickies!

  36. Wow. I’m not going to wait until I need to do this– I’m going to get a Goodwill sweater or scarf and practice the technique for when the problem really arises. And I’m going to print out this blog entry to add to my knitting excerpts I’ve collected and put in a binder… along with your fabulous 6/24/09 blog about the difference between “pick up” and “pick up and knit,” all clearly illustrated with your photos. What a brilliant teacher you are, besides being just generally brilliant!

    • That ‘pick up’ vs. ‘pick up and knit’ post was a lightening bolt for me. No one had ever explained it to me and I struggled EVERY. TIME. This post is lightening bolt number two. Wow. Thank you Stephanie.

  37. Genius! I have a lace shawl in time-out because it has a mistake and the thought of ripping out all my work brings me to tears!

  38. Hi. I liked a post you did about slipped stitches and was looking for it. Perhaps you could do a post because my skills at color knitting are not great but I think I can slip a stitch. I imagine flocks of people knitting this maybe in same color & yarn like the Oprah effect. It’s lovely. I live in middle of nowhere so there are no classes, just internet. If I could I’d be at Webs quicker than you can say yarnover!

  39. I remember when you showed us something similar some years back … and the posted about the reader who used the same process on her lace shawl with numerous rows dropped down on the offending section. I figured then that I could give this a try the next time I had a similar issue — it certainly couldn’t be worse than that fiddly lace. And if it didn’t work out, I could always just rip back the entire rows. I LOVE that I have this type of fix in my knitter’s toolbox now!

  40. OK. I’ll pay devil’s advocate here. You weren’t paying attention to the yarn’s desires. It is already green and phoning Miss Piggy. . .so, why didn’t you FROG it?

  41. That was so cool! Having the spare needle of the correct size and labeling the unraveled yarn per row that it came from is brilliant.

  42. I have done this for both cables and lace (the lace was epic, I didn’t notice the goof until 20 rows later). What I haven’t done is label the yarn loops, that’s brilliant!

  43. Ditto, ditto, +1. I feel dumb, having never figured any of this out…but am nonetheless inspired and empowered for the inevitable coming mishaps.
    Muchas gracias!

  44. My head is spinning! I have a couple of lacy shawl patterns that are now on the top of my “to-do” stack! Thank you for showing us how to make a fix like this!

  45. What insanity is this? Makes me wish I could have figured out how to do this the last time I did a lace shawl. I had to rip out three rows of lace knitting! 🙁

  46. I’m struggling a bit with the visualizing the unraveling into loops without loosing it and ending up with two pieces. I’d like to put in a plea for a video clip or the link, if you’ve already done one. You really are a genius problem solver. Thank you for sharing and teaching!

  47. Freaking Genius! I have tinkled back my birch shawl so many times that it should have been finished ages ago.
    If I had known then what I know now…

  48. While I regret the amount of time lost to your error (we all have counting failures, better than accounting failures), you have just solved my usual problem of which string goes where. Brilliant! My future knitting self thanks you.

  49. I’ve been making repairs this way for years and I can’t believe I never thought to label the strands! Too many times I’ve had to redo the fix, thanks for the tip.

  50. I’ve done a similar thing, a time or two. But nothing that long. Almost every time I do it in the company of other knitters, im
    My activity is accompanied by running commentary about the state of my mental health and/or the sloth of not just ripping back.

    What you did that’s brilliant is to number the strands. Coulda, woulda, shoulda. That’s the timesaver in this fear!

  51. Truly brilliant. Honestly, I would’ve just left it. I take the Navajo approach to crafting – the imperfections make it “hand made”.

  52. I have used that technique… minus the labels. Oh how I wish I had known about the labels when I think of a few times that I have done this. I feel like a huge light bulb went off! So glad that you showed us this.

  53. Extra needle? Awesome!
    Labels? Genius!
    But what I think is absolutely the gold in the pan? That you are still working on it and you are almost done!! That deserves a huge, huge: Congratulations!!
    I have a baby blanket/afghan that is all stockinette and I’m sorry to say that I have been very unfaithful to it. Multiple times.

  54. Wowie! This deserves its own page in Wikipedia. (Is there a similar resource for knitting? If not, maybe we should organize one!) This is gonna resurrect at least two projects I have in storage due to injury on the battlefield. I bow to thee and thank thee…

  55. I don’t even know what to say, as I couldn’t see the mistake in the first place. Very impressive. I think you’ve got your game back!

  56. I admit I took one look at the photo (I look at the photos before I read the text – always have always will) and thought, “there’s something not quite right there – the pattern shifts part way along.”
    LOVE that you labeled the strands.
    I’ve done that kind of repair before and it always involves a lot of “which strand should I be using now??”. This is brilliant.

  57. I must admit, this is one of the things I like about knitting — you can go back and reknit only the relevant stitches when you find a mistake.

    Hah! Click or touch THE WORLD!!! If you felt a jolt or anything rattled off your bookshelf, sorry. My bad.

  58. LABELS! That’s what really elevates this from mere brilliance to elegance.

    The two extra needles holding the good stitches are an awesome innovation, too. That had at least occurred to me, although I have always been either too deep into it or too lazy to implement the idea.

  59. And this is why you are held in such high esteem.
    I’ve done similar fixes on easy stitch patterns that I still manage to futz up but I would need a good part of an hour to find the mistake in lace and then fix a strong drink to console myself as I frog back to the offense….and probably to the beginning of the repeat because I would not have any idea where I was at in the pattern (and not because of the drink). This is a challenge reading my lace knitting especially if there are intentional yo’s.
    You’ve explained this fix well, thank you. Once my pattern GPS kicks in with a blinking “you are here”, I’m all set.

  60. I have actually wondered about and pondered on this very fix. But, have never known how to go about attempting it. Thank you, Wise YarnHarlot, for sharing your knowledge with us.

  61. Wow! Thank you so much for the tip – I may have just lost some of my lace knitting fears. This may have just rescued a few projects I have had in timeout for ages and made some more possible to do!

  62. Brilliant to flag the rows!! Definitely beats the snot out of ripping back! I remember waaaaaaay back you ripped out some black lace and had pix of many many rows pinned to keep loops still. Stopped my heart 🙂 I’m going to remember the loop-flag thing.

  63. Well, seeing that I still manage to get the loops mixed up when picking up a single stitch in crochet over several rows in garter stitch, labeling the strands sounds like a life saver to me !

  64. That’s amazing! I would never have thought of doing that, I’d have reluctantly ripped all of those rows back instead. Thanks for helping me potentially one day dashing myself loads of time! 🙂

  65. This sort of thing is what makes lace knitting possible. Otherwise the pain of the long tear-out is just too much and you give up lace. I have done this sort of thing many times. And always feel like I’ve won the lottery when I’m done. Good on ya, gal!
    Julie in San Diego

  66. That is a truly excellent tip about labelling each strand of deknitted yarn. I’ve used this technique myself but it’s never occurred to me to label the strands – I always have to spend time figuring out which one came from which row. Will be doing this in the future!

  67. Brilliant! Sounds like your process works way better than bursting into tears and throwing the wretched project across the room.
    I’m going to have to add this to all the other Tips from Steph I’ve accumulated.

  68. I did this a while back when I screwed up some cables several rows back. Such a feeling of accomplishment. That was the moment I truly owned the thought that I am an “experienced” knitter. No longer, beginner or even an intermediate knitter. I rocked it!!

  69. This is so fantastic and so scary! I would never have thougt of that myself! Unfortunately, your idea comes too late for my current project, but I’m sure there’ll be an opportunity to try it out soon (there’s too much late-night knitting, you see).

  70. Brilliant! Thank you. I have just learnt a valuable piece of knitting advice to use.
    Of course I have to go to the shop that sells brave pants so I can put them on and knit lace!

  71. I have done the same thing but without labeling the strands. I then spend a crazy amount of time figuring out (and re-figuring out) which strand is which. Labeling the strands never occurred to me. So simple, but so brilliant. This must be why you make the big bucks! 🙂

  72. The difference between a Pro and an ordinary knitter: I have had the same idea in similar situations but never the nerve and patience to try it. Hats off to the Pro.

  73. Thank you so much for the tips-seperate needle and labeling each row! makes it less scary. And then of course, I had to go look at the pattern, which led to the cowl that the pattern is based on…thinking I will have to do the cowl-not a shawl type girl.

  74. One of my favourite techniques. I often use a crochet hook for those last few tight stitches. I have dropped a section three inches and recovered it!

  75. That makes so much sense!! I heard on a podcast once about how to fix a section of stitches like that, but I just couldn’t visualize it. I’ve tried figuring it out on my own, but could never get it. Now thanks to your post I’ve finally got it, and I can already tell it’s going to be an invaluable trick to have up my sleeve! Thanks so much. 🙂

  76. I would probably just yank the needle out, frog three rows, then swear in a rather unladylike way, while trying to get the stitcjes back on the needle.
    However, one I got a tear on my sild Aeiolian shawl, that was repaired much like this.

  77. Awesome – just one of the many reasons I read your blog religiously! Mostly I read it because of your wonderful humor, generosity, and the fact that you completely understand my obsession, but then I get a tip like this and I learn something brilliant!

  78. Amazingly clever!!! I wish I had a fraction of your patience! (I’m tickled about the chain of infinite inspirational comments all leading back to the core… Your mistake… Love it!)
    You have a terrific audience. I commend you!

  79. Labeling the rows is pure genius, as is the use of another circular needle instead of DPs. A refinement of the method you posted probably more than ten years ago which gave me the courage to try it and which taught me how to read my lace. It would have been a complete fiasco to tink back at least a dozen rows of 344 sts. each.

  80. I am panicked and doing deep-breathing exercises just reading this post! So glad you got it worked out — and so glad it wasn’t me. I would have cried. haha!

  81. Wow1 I have always been afraid of doing this very thing! However, you have explained it so clearly that the next time this happens (and it will happen) I am going to pull this blog post (date etc, duly noted in my ‘Knit Solutions’ notebook) and dive into knitting surgery instead!

    Always a joy and I always learn something.

    Thank you,

    • I think the main extra work here was taking the photos and uploading the tutorial. Ripping back to a lifeline would have meant reknitting the whole 3 long rows which I suspect would have taken far longer than fifteen minutes

  82. I make a lot of mistakes, so I’ve done a lot of this. But something as elegant and obvious as labeling the strands? Never thought of a simple way to do it.

    My problem often is, even on something as simple as a 4-row Irish Mesh, as I rip down, my stitch radar goes all kerflooey – especially if PSSO’s are involved. Next thing ya know, I’m 30 stitches out and 12 rows down, looking for a spot to recover the pattern. So 15 minutes is nowhere near my time frame, even if I could knit as fast as you do. Still, I guess it builds character, or something.

  83. I’ve done this but it never ever occurred to me to label the yarn as to what row it belongs to. That is sheer genius. (I just hope you haven’t had to go through too much experience doing that that created that geniusorosity.) Thank you!

  84. That’s pretty cool and I read every word and blew up the pictures, but not being a knitter, I have no idea what you just said. Carry on.

  85. I absutely LOVE these blog posts about fixing mistakes. I ended up not chewing apart a sweater I goofed up on and managed to salvage it by doing surgery on the cables after getting the idea from you blog. LOVE IT!!!!!!

  86. Wow! that is incredible. I wish you were around the day I had to take my sweater out because I forgot to pick up stitches on one arm. But probably that fix wouldn’t have worked with that problem. I am so impressed!

  87. As they say, experts don’t make less mistakes, they make bigger ones faster. The good thing is that you have the wisdom of experience to help you fix them. I’ve used a few of your tutorials, and I can’t help but remember when S. Kate did her own shawl surgery.

  88. What a great fix! Thanks for the tutorial. While I am HOPING that I will never need to use i,t I am nevertheless filing it away in my mind and pray I will remember where I saw this should the need arise. LOL Congratulations. Looks like your project end is very close.

  89. Thank you! I really appreciate that you take the time to show how to fix errors. You’ve saved me a couple of times before with posts like this. Not to mention the fact that early on in my knitting learning curve, I was able to realize that the problem I was having with a project was the pattern, not me. As a new knitter, that probably wouldn’t have occurred to me if I hadn’t read one of your VERY entertaining letters to the designer. So, many, many thanks!

  90. Ingenious! This one is definitely going into my “bag of tricks.” Thanks in advance for saving me a lot of heartache sometime in the (hopefully not so near) future….

  91. So smart and clever! Wow…
    Lace-knitting and I: we aren’t good friends! Because of this stupid and hard to fix mistakes I do all the time!
    So thank you for this Heureka-Moment!

  92. I just don’t have enough fingers & toes to count how many times I have done this. In a way, its a pain and can be discouraging, but in completely another way, it proves that you have mastery over your knitting. That’s the part I love. I prefer to think about it that way.

  93. I’ve done this before, quite a few times. However, I don’t remember to label my strands and that can make a mess at times. I also more often than not end up with a big loop at the end of surgery rows. I have a fear of not having enough yarn and pull way too tight. If only I could get my hands to realize that there is enough yarn for the correct way since there was enough for the wrong way. I’ll have to remember the labeling idea. Save some time.

  94. I’ve done lace surgery, but keeping the good and bad on separate needles is so much more civilized plus labeling the strands. So simple but brilliant. Saved this so I can refer to it in the future.

  95. Thank you so much for the ‘tutorial’ on how to fix your lace knitting – I shall definitely remember it for the next time I wreck my shawl! Wish I had thought of that, instead of tinking an awful lot of stitches.

  96. Okay I do have a question: what about the SSK or K2T that are so prevalent in lace -since 2 sets become one (and similar sts), doesn’t that complicate your tinking technique? How do you get around it?

    • If you’re working the kind of lace pattern that alternates the lace rows with rows of plain knit, always rip back to a knit row. I find it much easier to orient myself within the pattern that way.

      But as long as you know where you are in the pattern, you should be able to pick it up from there. Using the safety pin type stitch markers, (or actual safety pins, if that’s what you have) to mark off the pattern repeats will help a lot.

  97. Holy shawls Yarn Harlot!

    1. I can hardly believe that what would have or could have been a boring post turned into a knock out.

    2. I am surprised by the number of comments.

    3. I have a project, in lace, that has a similar problem and I have been terrified of ripping back. I had never thought of this method for a fix. My project has been on hold, in the corner, under other projects for about 4 years now. I am pulling it out tomorrow, with coffee, post it notes, tape, pencil, extra circular and the pattern and getting this work of art back in action.

    4. You saved my sanity again.

    Thank you, you are my hero.

  98. Thank you so much! The extra needle and labels are so brilliant.
    Like one of the other commenters, I just saw your post about pick up and knit. It explained things so clearly. Thanks

  99. Like others, I have used this technique and agree that the use of labels is the sheer genius part. What confuses me is when you said you pulled the circ back to the right to knit row 3 of the pattern. Seems like this is a back-and-forth knit so some of the rows would have to be knit on the wrong side. That’s the only part that was unclear for me.

    • This is how I think about it – a separate strand of yarn is waiting to be knit for each row, and each row can be worked from either the wrong side or the right side, your choice.

      **I start each row by holding my knitted fabric with the side I want to work for that row (right or wrong) facing me. Then I
      slide the circular needle so that the first stitch I want to knit is at the tip of the needle in my left hand. Now I’m ready to work that row. Repeat from ** for each row.

  100. So clever! A knitting rocket scientist indeed. Thanks for the new knowledge, and for reminding me to think outside the box a bit when my knitting lands in the mire.

  101. I laughed out lout at the pattern is a repeat of four stitches and I cant count that high. i am working on a fiar isle scarf with alternating rows of knit 3 green, knit one pink. next row knit every other stitch pink green. third row knit one green, knit 3 pink. we wont discuss how many times I have reknit this to get the pattern correct. the scarf is in time out while I gather myself to rip it once again. wish I could count to four, too.

  102. wow! That is brilliant! When I’d try to fix things they would look worse then the original mistake so I switched to ignoring & hoping no one would notice the mistake!

  103. Thank you for that great lesson. So let me get this straight: you knit lace without looking?? Also, I totally do not see the mistake, at all.

  104. I am in awe of your prowess. Sincerely. I’m blown away. I would’ve tinked or, more likely, left it alone as no one but me would have noticed it. You are amazing!

  105. thank you!!!! your blog is better than a knitting class. you made the fix look pretty straightforward – like something even I could do, thank you for sharing

  106. I haven’t done this on as grand a scale, though I have done it for 5-6 stitches some rows back. It’s a fine use for 0000 dpn’s.

    But .. I do like seeing how to use a second circular–and the idea of labelling the strands of the tinked out rows is genius–and well worth the time.

    Not only did you get a blog post, but you may also have part of a chapter for your next book!

  107. I use this process too…except for the part about labeling the loops with the chart row number. And it’s bitten me in the bum a few times. LOVE the labeling idea! Totally gonna use that next time!

  108. When I was younger, my words to live by were, “If I’m not learning something, I’m wasting my time.” As I got older and knew more, this was less and less true. However, today I certainly learned something. I’ve done this sort of complicated surgery in lace before, but never thought to use a spare circular, or to label the strands (this is brilliant!). Thanks for teaching this old dog a few new tricks!

  109. Any suggestions for fixing errors that involve the edge stitches? I’ve found it much more difficult (actually, impossible) to keep the loops straight when they go from one row to another.

    • 1.Make sure your loops are in the correct order.
      2. Count down, 2 rows per loop, to find your place in the pattern.
      3. Bottom of loop, you’re knitting out towards the edge. Top of loop, you’re knitting the next row, in towards the center. This is the same, no matter which side you’re working, because knitting is always traveling upwards.

      Sorry, that’s the clearest that l can explain it.

  110. Thank you for your timely error. I am working on Multiplicity and had the same problem. Pretty big error 4 rows back on a 400 + stitch row. I put it on a time out and now I can do just this and more forward. After I fix the error, only 24 more rows. Thanks again!!

  111. This is completely, absolutely a brilliant solution! The explanation is great and the pictures help a lot too–thank you!! Not that I’m in any hurry to discover a mistake three or four rows behind me on a real project…but I’m awfully tempted to knit up a big swatch with a mistake just to try this out myself. 🙂

  112. oooh! oooh! i have a question, Mr. Kotter! any tips for helping control tension when you knit from the loop of yarn? i always end up with loose stitches at the end of the row due to too much yarn left over from the loop.

    • I always knit tightly, deliberately, when I do this fix, in order not to run out of yarn before the last stitch. Then I ease the extra back along the row of stitches, before I start the next row.

  113. Wish I had known about the labeling the strands thing when I had the same situation on a giant sweater for Handsome Hubby…. This is brilliant, and I will most certainly shamelessly copy! Thank you!

  114. I learned the trick of pulling out and reknitting just the “broken” stitches from your blog a few years back, and I use it all the time. Adding labels onto the unraveled yarn is just piling brilliance on top of brilliance. Thank you!

    And also, watching you work on this shawl is making me wish I’d waited instead of knitting the infinity scarf/cowl version. It’s a GREAT pattern, but the cowl version is simply too floppy to really look good. Every time I put it on, I’m disappointed. So if anyone is debating between the shawl version and the other, do the shawl! I may frog my entire cowl and do this, instead!

  115. because mistakes in lace are a good way to tell it’s bedtime) LOL! Totally agree. And, labeling each strand as you tinked—brilliant! Thanks for another great post.

  116. I did the same thing on a semi-complicated cable and lace pattern. Thankfully I documented it in photographs. It was quite the journey!

  117. I have absolutely done this…back about 7 rows into the incredibly complex lace edging that is the Aeolian shawl. Hoo boy. I staked out each piece with pins and slowly knitted it back into place. It took less time than it would have to rip back all the rows, but FAR more than 15 minutes. I think about 3 hours?

  118. That is a good idea. But in knitting Estonian lace, with nupps, it doesn’t help always…just sometimes. You can’t repair the missing nupp in the middle of the row, ’cause You do not have enough yarn for this.
    But if it is possible, I always use this method.

  119. I have recently had to do this a couple of times on the textured sweater I’m knitting (Gin & Tonic by babycocktails) and I felt super awesome, especially when I dropped back on the raglan shaping. But I must say the numbering of the rows is the best trick I’ve heard in ages (especially with laceweight) because it was a real hassle-it’s always in low light when this happens, isn’t it?- to make sure I had the right line every time. Thanks for the tip! So looking forward to the big reveal on this. It’s making me contemplate lace again…

    • I had Gin and Tonic lined up for the next knit, but as we don’t seem to be getting a proper Canadian winter this time round, I think I’ll move right on to the early Spring one in the queue, which is Afterlight.
      I still think the smartest thing the Harlot did was to go to bed when she spotted the problem, instead of trying to fix it with a tired brain. How many times have I carried on knitting lace when I knew I should have quit half an hour since, only to end up royally messing up.

  120. Thank you! Such a simple resolution to a major problem. Now what will everyone do when there is no mistake to find in their knitted gifts from me! 🙂

  121. Thanks so much fo rhtis post! I have a shawl in time out for just the same reason and I was convinced I could repair just that one section! Armed with your post, I may attempt it after all!

  122. That, to me, was VERY scary. Me? I would have tinked back the thousand stitches, cursing the entire time, but definitely in my comfort zone… tink tink tink…..

  123. I have done similar repairs, but on a smaller scale. I can’t picture doing this; though I couldn’t have pictured doing those other fixes either, except when faced with tinking back a bunch of work or just ripping it out, which is destruction to the soul. I never would have learned how to fix a contrary cable unless I’d just gone ahead and done it, so I’m sure that one day I’ll be faced with the unthinkable and decide not to run out and stuff the whole thing in the garbage can – or it will be a project for a client and I’ll have no choice – and I’ll remember this post and the awesome idea of labelling the strands. Of course, I can’t guarantee that I won’t need 48 hours’ down-time, and a large snort of Crown Royal, first.

  124. Wow–so smart! When I mess up lace I just drop the wrong hits and ravel back…Which never works, so I have to think back anyways. Next time I might actually get it right!

  125. This post reminds me why it’s not just your wonderful sense of humour that keeps me reading – I also learn stuff. Stuff that I didn’t know that I didn’t know. I’ve seen lace repairs where you pin the yarn in the order they came off the needles when tinking. That doesn’t work for me because I tuck my right needle under my arm so I’ve been tinking entire rows. It never occurred to me that I could use a simple labelling method instead. Thank you so much.

  126. Oh my gosh. Sometimes, in the busy-ness of life, and the hilarity of your self deprecating humor, I forget what a knitting goddess you are.
    And then I am beautifully reminded.

  127. Thank you for showing us this correction. I found myself in a similar situation with my Linen Stitch Scarf this morning. I tracked down your blog post and set to work undoing a portion of my knitting (thankfully only 50 stitches on the previous row). It came together perfectly.

  128. I just did something similar to a cable afghan I’m working on – I forgot to cross the cable about 13 rows back. I unraveled just the cable and reknit on double points. Your suggestion to label each row is a good one.

  129. Brilliant! I always rip out just the section where the mistake is but I have never marked the yarn as to the row. And this has often caused trouble. Love learning something new!
    Thank you!

  130. I have picked back and fixed many a lace “goof” in the same way you did here. But never, ever did I have the brilliance to think to label the strands as I pulled them out. Thank you for saving me a whole host of swearing in the future!

  131. I have just seen this post ~ too late for some of my mistakes unfortunately! I don’t know how many times I have painstakingly ripped back, stitch by stick, several rows of lace knitting to fix a mistake (yes, some of the rows had over 300 stitches!) and now here is the perfect solution.

  132. It is truly a nice and useful piece of information. I’m satisfied that you
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  133. I’ve been using this method of fixing mistakes for a long time. It especially works for fixing cabling mistakes 4″ back. I like to watch tv when I knit and I also meet with friends at a nearby coffee shop to knit. It never fails that if I’m doing something a bit difficult and I haven’t thought to use markers on the rows that I have some ripping out to do later.
    Actually, sometimes I think that it makes the knitting more interesting. It cracks my husband up when he sees me with multiple loops hanging from my work. And you’re right, it beats ripping out 16 rows of 150 stitches…..

  134. Hi Stephanie, I’ve never commented here before, but had to go back and search for this post…because it saved me a great deal of time. I am knitting a lace patterned sweater in the round and made a mistake that I only noticed about 6 rounds later. The thought of ticking back that many rows was almost too much. And then I remembered reading what you did here. I was able to go back on just the one lace panel (12 stitches) to the error and fix it and knit back each row (slipping the freshly knit stitches back to the left needle each time since it was in the round knitting). It worked! Saved me time and a whole lot of sanity!! Thank you!

  135. This is brilliant! I’ve been in this situation so many times and been forced to tink back amidst much cursing and yelling. Thanks so much for providing a better solution! I’ll be sure to use this in future!

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