Part II: Choosing how to fix your mistakes

Summer Poetry
This project was riddled with mistakes and took me twice as long as it should have. It was worth it in the end, though.

Last week I talked about how to decide what to do when you’ve made a mistake. This week I want to talk about the different kind of mistakes I make. This post doesn’t describe how to fix your mistakes; there is already a lot of information out there. This post is how I decide what method to use for fixing a mistake. The method you choose could potentially save you a lot of time and effort.

Time to frog

I’m more likely to frog (ripppppit out) a stockinette or garter project than anything else and I always try to frog back to a place that does not have any increases or decreases (wrong side of lace, I’m looking at you). This sometimes mean I frog back past the mistakes, which might take more time but means I am less likely to make a mistake picking up the stitches. Two big mistakes in a row typically send the project to the naughty pile.

Mandatory Frog: I misread the instructions and only increased on one side of each sleeve on this back panel for my newest cardigan. Oops!
Mandatory Frog: I misread the instructions and only increased on one side of each sleeve on this back panel for my newest cardigan. Oops!

This project had a false start. In my excitement I forgot to realize that the back panel you start on also contains the shoulders, so when I misread the instructions and missed the increases, I knew this needed to be frogged. Starting again, I made a couple of alterations and it ended up looking like this:
If you had enough foresight to put in a life line, then frogging is actually a really easy and low risk solution. If the life line is close enough to the mistake, it is a lot faster than tinking back.

The type of yarn also plays a factor. Rougher yarns that have a lot of friction are easier to frog, because the stitches hold together while you try to pick them up again. Slick wools, blends and plant fibers are a little trickier, because the stitches tend to fall through as you are picking up neighboring stitches. Never fear, double count what you pick up and keep a crochet hook handy.

Time to tink

This is my safest method. Tinking is when you knit backwards, which tends to be slower than knitting forwards. This is good when your mistake is only a few rows back or you’re near the end of a complicated project and haven’t put a life line in. This method is doubly good for lace projects. I decide to tink if I think it will take less time and energy to knit backwards to the mistake rather than rip out to the mistake and carefully pick up all of the stitches.

I accidentally started a third row of contrast colour for my zebra. Easy fix!
I accidentally started a third row of contrast colour for my zebra. Time to tink!

Time to get out a stitch marker

(otherwise known as “Catch it on the next pass”)

My weapon of choice for holding onto a stitch. These stitch markers are very handy. I even use them instead of a cable needle! Picture courtesy of

This is reserved for recent mistakes made on your current row. It happens when I’ve accidentally twisted a stitch or (gasp) dropped a stitch or even forgotten a yarn over. I place a stitch marker on the offending stitch and wait until I am back at the same place on the next row. If you are marking a dropped stitch, make sure you put the stitch marker through the dropped loop so it doesn’t pull through. When adding a YO, make sure the tension is loose enough to create the YO. For super tight tension or inflexible yarn, it might pull at your fabric a little too much.

Sometimes, if I’m in a rush and the circumstances are right, I’ll sneak a missed increase or decrease into the next row. For example, in a project like a bottom-up toque, where there are only a handful a decreases every few rows. If I notice that I missed a

Strangely enough, I don’t recommend this method for removing an accidental yarn over. Accidental yarn overs leave a little to much spare yarn for my taste, and this extra yarn is hard to work out while blocking. This is a good time to tink.

Time to get out a crochet hook

I held onto this dropped stitch with a safety pin then wielded my crochet hook as soon as I reached that column.
I held onto this dropped stitch with a safety pin then wielded my crochet hook as soon as I reached that column.

When you are knitting up a storm and look several rows back and notice a single evil stitch that isn’t quite right, this is the method for you. It is probably the fastest option after catching it on the next pass. It could be a purl instead of a knit (or vice versa) or the wrong colour yarn in stranded knitting. If you are a loose knitter, you can even use this method for a dropped stitch. I prefer this method in stockinette stitch projects, but it can easily be applied to garter stitch, ribbing, moss stitch, etc. I don’t usually use it when decreases are involved and won’t even consider it for lace, but if you’re braver than me, it’s still a legitimate option.

I also find it particularly difficult to use this method on the last stitch of a row when knitting flat. The last stitch is typically knit twice (once at the end and then once at the beginning of the row), and I find it challenging to recreate the stitches using a crochet hook. This could just be me, though.

Time to move on

Can you see the mistake? I can barely see it anymore. This hem is supposed to be a broken 1×1 rib, but I accidentally added one row of straight 1×1 ribbing. No harm, no foul.

This goes back to last week, where I ask myself, “Will I be bothered by this once I am wearing the project?”. It’s hard to admit that it will be fine sometimes, because I want to be a perfectionist. I only finished this project a week ago and I had already forgotten about the mistake until I was going through pictures for this post. I guess that answers the question!

These first three posts have been knitting specific. Next time I’m going to tackle one of my kitchen organization projects!


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