June 20, 2006

All is not lost

Yesterday I got a letter from Sue. Sue wrote:

I'm knitting Teva Durham's Cabled Riding Jacket. Everything was zipping along until I noticed that six rows back I crossed one cable out of many in the wrong direction... I could unravel those six rows back to that cable, but I'm wondering if there is a way to just drop those 5 stitches back to that point, recross the cable in the right direction, and fix things.

Even as I write, I feel that it's hopeless, but some niggling little sprite tells me not to give up yet.

That sprite would be me, though I've never been called niggling before, at least not to my face. Indeed, all is not lost, and I can think of two ways to get yourself out of this dilemma. I'm not usually the sort of blogger who goes around getting other knitters out of trouble, (you know, on account of not being able to get myself out of trouble most of the time, that and having such a real knack for getting other knitters INTO trouble) but this time, having mis-crossed many a cable in my day, this time...I'm going to show you how to fix it. My apologies to the dial-up folks. This is a picture heavy post.
There are two ways (other than ripping back the whole she-bang a wrenching 6 rows) that I use.

The Proper way.

1. I have prepared a swatch for you. (Sue, do you feel the love?) In the event that you have never mis-crossed a cable in your life, only knit scarves, or are a non-knitter who only comes here because you are interested in string....I have indicated the boo-boo with the arrow.

All cables leaning right, and there, six rows back, a six stitch cable deliberately leaning left with shameless disregard for order or The Way That Things Should Be.

2. Isolate the stitches so that they may feel the full measure of shame.

Begin frogging back, being sure to leave uninvolved stitches on the needles. You need not be delicate, only the stitches you have removed from the needle will unravel, no matter what you pull on.

3. Pull back row by row until the stitches that were miss-crossed are released. In this case, that would be six rows. (If you are the nervous sort, a little lie down or drinkie-poo can help at this point.)


4. Go get yourself three dpns. If you are fussy, you can make them the same size as what you're using for the rest of the work, but I find it easier to do this with needles slightly smaller. Put the first three stitches on one needle, and the second three onto another. Now cross the two dpns in the correct cross for the cable....


and slide them onto the third dpn in their new, spiritually gratifying, correct order. Breathe.


5. The worst is over. The stitches are held safely and none of them can go running all over the place like an 16 year old with a new drivers license and a tank full of gas their mum bought.
See the strands that you pulled free to get back to the mistake?
Find the BOTTOM one. The one that is closest to the live stitches.


6. Pick up that strand of yarn, and using another dpn, knit across the six stitches, imagining that the strand of wool is a little tiny ball of yarn.

This will be a fiddly pain in the arse. If you started with the drinks when you got flipped out in step 3, now would be a good time to quit. You're going to need a certain measure of hand-eye co-ordination.

7. When you have knit all six stitches with the pretend ball of yarn...
slide the dpn through the stitches to the left, sort through your strands for the lowest one, and repeat knitting across the row. (Relaxing your shoulders at this point is probably a good idea too. Clearly, everything is going to be alright.)

Keep at it, working across the rows until all of the strands have been used up.

There are likely (unless you are a very gifted knitter indeed) going to be some issues with the gauge of the new stitches. This is as inevitable as that sad day right after you watched the Thorn Birds and fell in love with Richard Chamberlain and was talking about it at school and then that skanky chick told you that he was gay and you told your mum that and she said "Guess what Honey."
Smoosh the stitches around, pick at them with the needle to even them out and know that most of it will be corrected in blocking.

When you're done, return all of the stitches to the needle that they were on in the first place, pour yourself a very large glass of the celebratory beverage of your choice, and before drinking it, check to make sure that's the only cable you miss-crossed.


Desperate measures.

Now that I've shown you the proper way....I'm going to show you a cheat. A dirty, nasty, down in the weeds, don't tell anybody it was me cheat. This fix is for miss-crosses very far down. Too far down. Too far down with other cables stacked on top of them creating complications. It's for when you have knit a whole stinking back of an aran for a 7 foot tall 500 pound man and you find a miss-crossed cable on row 9.

It is for when you know that you will not be able to live with the mistake, but you know that you can't live with ripping back either.
It is a last resort. It is voodoo.

Fetch a darning needle, locate the miss-cross, and imagine where you would like the new stitches of the cable to go. (Note that I am sending this cable in the other direction to avoid knitting another swatch. There are limits to my love.)


Now backstitch along those new lines with tight stitches.

This stitching helps pull the old lines down out of the way and give the right "lay of the land" to the new cable. It make the fabric low in the right places and high in the right places.

Now, take a deep breath and begin to embroider the new cable on where you would like it to go. Think like duplicate stitch, and simply
"draw on" the cable you would like to have.


Here's one completed row. Do one row for each stitch that would be crossing.


See that? Voodoo.


Total voodoo. It's imperfect, and I wouldn't expect it to meet with the exacting standards of a master knitter, but in an emergency when all other possibilities are exhausted? Dude. It's an exit door.

The only drawback (and there is always a price to dabbling with the dark arts) is that it can't be frogged. It must be unpicked if you don't like it, and for that...you're going to need the liquor back.

(Ps. Am I the only one laughing at the irony that I've just performed two complicated knitting maneuvers to end up with a swatch that looks just like the one I started this post with?)

Posted by Stephanie at June 20, 2006 1:19 PM