So you want to knit 8 – Fixing Mistakes and Life Lines

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Welcome back! It has been a busy few weeks for me, but I am finally sitting down to continue with this series. I debated on what to do next, but I decided that before I move on to other techniques, that I should take time to look at how to fix mistakes in your knitting. I will go through a couple techniques. First up will be the simple, but very time consuming option, which is ripping out your work. Most people will refer to this as frogging because rip it sounds an awful lot like ribbit. hehe A fun word for a pain in the behind task. lol This is very time consuming, but it is also the easiest way to get back to your mistake. I will use this if I find I made a huge mistake, like I completely missed a row in a chart, or there is a larger section of error. Technique two is the scary one, and will require an understanding of the make up of the stitch. However, it is the method I use the most. If I find that I purled a stitch instead of knit, for example, and it’s 3 or 4 rows back, it’s a lot easier to fix that one stitch than it is to rip back those 3 or 4 rows. Now, while this can be a difficult technique that will require some thought on your part, it’s not impossible. And after a few attempts, you will find it gets much much easier. It also gives you a great understand of the structure of your piece. I would not consider this a beginner technique, if I were to rate it on difficulty, but it’s absolutely something a beginner can learn, and it’s something that can really benefit them, skill wise. I will try to take the best pictures possible to explain everything that I am talking about.

Before we get into the fixing of the mistakes, there is a get out of jail free card, so to speak. When you are knitting lace or have a particularly complicated pattern, it can be scary to contemplate frogging all those rows or dropping your stitch down to fix a mistake. My preferred method when knitting lace is to put in a life line. This method uses a spare piece of yarn (waste yarn) to thread through each stitch on your needles, so that if you find a mistake, you can just pull out your needles and pull out the yarn, until you are stopped by that waste yarn. Once you get to that, you have a piece of yarn in each stitch, holding it in place for you to simply slip your needle back into, to begin knitting once again. Also, when you put in a life line, it’s important to mark what row of the chart or written directions you were on, so you can pick up with little thought. To insert the waste yarn, thread the yarn onto a tapestry needle, and then thread the needle through each stitch on your needles. Pull the yarn through all those stitches, but leave them on your needle. Those stitches are now secure in case you need to go back to that spot.




Now what if you want to just go back a couple stitches in your work. Perhaps you made a mistake on the row you are on, or you don’t have a lifeline and need to keep frogging back to fix a larger mistake? Knowing the construction of your knitting will help you know where to insert the left needle to get the old stitch back. First, we’ll look at knit stitches, since they are easier to see. Looking at the right needle, where your new stitches are, you want the loop that is below the needle.


Insert your left needle into that loop, so that your new stitch falls off the right needle, and you can pull the yarn out from the stitch. You will now how the old stitch back on your left needle.


If you are purling, you will be looking for the bump under the needle.


Insert your left needle into that bump to pick it up, and then let it drop off the right needle and pull your yarn free. You now have the old stitch on your left needle.


One of the more difficult fixes is when you have one stitch that is wrong, but it’s a few rows down. You don’t want to spend hours frogging stitch after stitch to fix just that one stitch. The fastest way, but for many the scariest, is to drop the stitch down to where the mistake is and pick up all the little threads of yarn to get back to where you were. In the picture you can see a little purl bump where a knit stitch should be. A crochet hook will make this much easier to do. The first step is to use your crochet hook to catch the stitch that you need to fix, so you don’t pull down too many stitches. In this case, you slip the hook under the purl bump to hold it in place. If you don’t have a crochet hook, many places sell small hooks that are made for fixing stitches. Amazon even has a set of three little hooks to give you a range of sizes to match the yarn you are using.


Next, pull that stitch off your needle, and gently pull the yarn out of each loop until you get to your crochet hook.



In this case, the last thread of yarn is sitting in front of your stitch. You will want to adjust it so it sits behind it, like all the other threads.


Once everything is where you need it to be, and is neat and tidy, you can begin recreating your stitches. All of these stitches need to be knit stitches. Grab the lowest strand of yarn, and pull it through your loop to make a new stitch. Do this for every strand of yarn, working from the lowest to the highest.



Once you have worked every strand, place the loop back on to your needle.


If you are trying to fix purled stitches, you will want to have all your strands in front of your loop.


Just like the knit stitches, you will grab the lowest strand of yarn first, and pull it through the loop, working from lowest to highest until they are all used.



As you are fixing your stitches like this, you may find that you get a line of stitches that is looser than the stitches around it. You can fix this a bit, by pulling on your knitting both lengthwise and knitwise. This will pull the yarn a bit to even it out among some of the stitches. The other thing to be careful of, is that when you are pulling the yarn out of the stitches to get to the one needing to be fixed, make sure you don’t pull too hard on that yarn. Same as when you are pulling it back through the loop. If you pull on it too much, it will tighten the stitches beside it, and give you too much slack when making your new stitch.

I hope these tips help you as you increase your knitting skills. Fixing a mistake can be daunting, but it can be done easily. If you are knitting lace and want to use the lifeline method, don’t be afraid to put a lifeline after every 10 rows, or every repeat of the chart, or however often you want to put in a new one. You want to be able to rip back a few rows, and not have to redo too much of your work. I prefer to go no more than 10 rows between lifelines, but that is just my personal preference.

Thanks for reading and happy knitting!!

1 thought on “So you want to knit 8 – Fixing Mistakes and Life Lines

  1. […] Just know that this can happen to even the best of us. If you find a spot like this, check out my post on fixing errors. You can either rip back to fix the stitch, or you can drop down to it to fix it. That post will […]

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