Friday, 5 May 2017

How To Rip Out Knitting Without Losing Your Project

The Uh-Oh Moment

Spotting a mistake in your work can be a gut-wrenching moment, especially if you've carried on for a couple of inches and it has completely wrecked the pattern you've been working on. After you've settled down from the panic stations you'll realize that it is possible to fix! There are a few options available to you depending on what type of mistake has been made but the two methods I'll be talking about are Tink-ing (backwards knitting), Frogging (ripping that mess out), and The Life Line (similar to Frogging but with a different set up); the other options involve a crochet hook and I'll do a separate article for those.


This is a nice easy method of correcting mistakes if you have spotted it on the same row. Tink-ing is basically un-working your stitches until you reach the problem stitch. All you need to do is to pick up the stitch below on the right needle with your left needle and then pull out the yarn as you position the old stitch on the left needle. Repeat this process until you reach the offending stitch, correct the mistake and then carry on as normal. 

Tink-ing is a very handy process for catching these early mistakes and I find myself doing it quite a lot in complicated patterns, especially with double knitting or color work. A quick tip I would like to share is to also use a stitch marker to mark the wrong stitch and I place it just to the right of the stitch so that I definitely unpick that stitch and don't go too far. 


This method is useful when you need to take out a larger portion of your work and it will take far too long to do it via Tink-ing. The reason this method is called Frogging is because you are "ripping" the work out and the rip, rip, rip, of the yarn sound like a frog.

To start frogging your work you'll first need to find a section of your knitting that you will be happy to pick up your stitches from. You'll then want to select a slightly smaller needle or a tapestry needle so that you can easily pick up the stitches from the fabric. I personally like to pick up my stitches from the knit side (if it's not reversible) so make sure that you pick up from left to right.

Once you have got these stitches picked up then you can take your live stitches off the needle and then start ripping the yarn back until you get to the stitches on the needle. When you are ripping back the stitches I find that keeping a medium tension throughout allows you to wrap up your yarn into a ball, or around the existing one, to keep everything neat. You may find that some stitches get stuck, you may have a "sticky" yarn fiber or accidentally split a stitch while knitting so if this happens use the Tink-ing method above to work out the stitches without having to cut or break the yarn.

After you have Frogged back to the stitches on the needle if you find that you have picked them up from the wrong side then simply transfer them over to the other needle. Another way to pick up is to use a longer double pointed needle that way you can start knitting from either side without having to worry about transferring those stitches.

The Life Line

This is exactly what is sounds like; if you have a difficult or new pattern that you are following and you want a bit of safety if you make a mistake then The Life Line is for you. The whole process is similar to Frogging but you actually put in a piece of spare yarn across your work at a point you would be happy to rip back to if you were to make a mistake.

The beauty about The Life Line is that you can put multiple reference points in or simply take out the previous reference yarn and put it in the new section whenever you need some reassurance; just think of it being your own little knitting insurance policy.

I also use The Life Line as a progress keeper as well. For larger projects such as the Drop-Shoulder Jumper shown in the photo you need to knit for a long time to get the length right and it's often easier to make a note of where you stopped last time (the orange yarn reference) and measure from there. I find this method a lot easier as it's sometimes difficult to lay out your project and measure it when you're on the go (such as commuting) but just doing the top bit of your work is so much easier.

Beginner Knitters

Those who are new to knitting will probably find that they need to use these two methods quite often but don't fret, as you get more practice at knitting different projects, styles and patterns you'll find yourself making fewer mistakes. 

If you don't know how to knit and would like to start then check out my article Learn How To Knit.