Knitting Blog

Fix-It Friday: How to Tink

It’s a fact of life that if you knit, you’re eventually going to make a mistake. The trick is knowing how to fix it, because all mistakes can be fixed.

The first thing to know about is how to unknit. Say you’ve knitted a few stitches and realized you’re off the pattern. You knitted where you should have purled. To go back a few stitches, the best thing to do is work backward. Look at your right hand needle and notice the most recent stitch. You can see the loop around the base of that stitch. That is what you want to pick up, putting it back on the left hand needle. Then you can let the new stitch slip off the right hand needle. Repeat this process until you get back to where you went astray.

If your mistake goes back to a previous row, you may want to take the more drastic-sounding step of removing your project from the needles. I know, I know. We live in fear of dropping stitches off our needles. But you can do it in a careful, controlled way. Once off the needles, you can actually unravel the project one stitch at a time, so you can control how far back you rip out your work. Once you’ve ripped out the mistake, you slip your needle back through what will be an identifiable row of stitches. Count to be sure you’ve got the right number of stitches. And always be careful.

Both ripping out and unknitting can get tricky if your work includes increases, decreases, or yarn overs, but it can be done. You can even unknit a bind off if necessary, though it requires patience and thought.

Then there is the dreaded dropped stitch. The first step with a dropped stitch is to pick it up on something, a spare needle, stitch holder, something so it doesn’t unravel further. Now that the stitch is secure, slip it onto your right hand needle. Then find the horizontal bar behind the stitch. That’s what your stitch should have been twisted around. Slip that bar onto your right needle, as well. You should slip both yarn loops onto the needle entering from front to back. Then use the left needle to slip the dropped stitch over the bar, just as for a pass slipped stitch over or bind off. If the stitch dropped down more than one row, just repeat this process for each row. Once you’ve picked up your dropped stitch, slip it back onto the left needle and continue with your project.

The best advice I can give if you have a tricky mistake to fix is to put it aside until you are calmer. Do not try to fix a big mistake in the throes of panic as you can easily make the situation worse. The time I royally messed up the complicated blanket I had worked so hard on and immediately tried to correct the problem without thinking, I got so upset, desperate to fix it, I wound up with nothing but an unraveled mass of yarn in my lap. (It all worked out in the end, though, as I restarted the blanket the next day and it came out much better on the second effort.)

As a final thought, you have another option when you make a mistake in your knitting: embrace it. You are making a handmade item. Perfection isn’t the goal. Be willing to let a small mistake be like the lumps in homemade mashed potatoes: proof that it’s not from a box (store).

What’s the biggest knitting mistake you’ve ever made?


Sarah Punderson

I don’t remember how old I was but I was making a sweater with cables. I noticed that I had forgotten to cross one of the cables. My older sister showed me how to take back just those stitches and fix the cable. I was truly amazed.


Just finished re-knitting the front of a beautiful lace-paneled sweater because I knit the first one a size too small! Fortunately I had enough yarn to keep the mistake until I can get more yarn to finish a smaller size for a smaller gal 🙂

Alice Beers

I love Crafty’s classes. I have learned so much even though I have not been able to take advantage of them like I want too. I thank the teachers and technicians that do the videos. What a great idea and I hope the classes are available for a long time to come.


Yes, mistakes are inevitable. I wish I could say that I have made at least one item mistake free. Well, I have items that don’t have mistakes when done (I think) but I get distracted easily and so things happen. Sometimes the fix is easy but I have done a lot of re-dos. When I learned to make socks my first pair had different results for the heel flap. I laugh every time I wear them. But you know – nobody else knows…


I was knitting DH a fair isle vest with a corrugated rib. I was so proud of myself, stitches were even, it looked beautiful, I was even weaving in the ends as I was going along. When I got to the armholes, I decided to see how things were really going and had him try it on. Try is the operative word. I now know that the most important measurement for a middle-aged man is the girth, not the chest! Had to frog the entire thing, and all those ends I wove in, yep, those got in the way. Luckily, the yarn is still good and has been put away in my craft room for two years just waiting to be called out again.


I think every time I decided to work in the ends as I went, I have had to rip back my work and it was a lot harder than if I had just saved the weaving in to the end of the project. Lesson finally learned.


I have learned that Life Lines are Life-Savers… in the process of Tinking right now…….


Very good advice.


I was tucking in ends before felting a bag and I created a hole. This is currently an issue and if anyone can offer support on this I would be very grateful. It’s about 7 rows wide and 6 rows high…


I made a Aran cabled sweater while in graduate school (kept me sane). One of the complicated cable patterns was wrong. I zigged when I should have zagged. That sweater made me smile every time I saw that booboo. Now for the biggest mistake: I washed it and forgot to put it on extra delicate and now I can slip it around my border collie. Which worked out fine, I gave it to someone it fit and am making another in a darker WASHABLE wool.


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