4 Common Knitting Mistakes—and How to Quickly Fix Them
Are you a new knitter? If so, congratulations—this hobby is all but guaranteed to bring you lifelong joy. We also understand how daunting it can be to begin this often-complex craft. Dropping a stitch, adding extra stitches, getting your stitches twisted, and not providing enough slack as you knit are all common mistakes first-timers run into. But don't let these fears stop you from honing your craft. The best part about all of these pitfalls is that they are preventable and fixable.
Don't panic: This happens all the time. A stitch will fall off in your bag, slip when you set your knitting down, or pop off the end of your needle when you aren't paying close attention. Sometimes it will work its way deep down into the fabric, but there's still good news. It's fixable!
How to Prevent a Dropped Stitch
Here are a few tips that will prevent this from happening in the first place.
- Look at your fabric regularly to spot any unusual nubs of stitches hanging out or a gaping row of ladders.
- Count your stitches regularly to make sure your stitch count is not going down.
- Always stop knitting when you get to the end of a row. Stuffing your knitting in your project bag mid-row is a surefire way to lose some stitches.
How to Fix a Dropped Stitch
It's actually easier than you might think to correct this issue. When you look at your work, the dropped stitch will be hanging out morosely at the bottom of what looks like a series of ladder rungs. These ladder rungs are the working yarn from each row that came out of that dropped stitch. We're going to pull that lost stitch back up the ladder rungs, recreating a stitch at each rung, or each row. Here's how to do it.
1. Start by using your left-hand needle to pick up the last stitch you see. The right-hand side ("leg") of the stitch should be in front of the needle. The ladder rungs of working yarn from the rows the stitch fell out of will be hanging out above it.
2. Next, insert your left-hand needle underneath the lowest ladder rung.
3. You should now have the old stitch and the working yarn (ladder rung) from the row above the dropped stitch on your needle.
4. Insert your right-hand needle into the dropped stitch and pull it over that first ladder rung that's on your needle. Just like that, you've picked up a stitch for one row! Now repeat. Put your left-hand needle under the next available ladder rung and repeat the steps above to remake the stitch for that row.
5. Keep going. Continue to pull that stitch up each row, reforming the stitch as above until you get to the top. That line of stitches may look a little looser, but this will decrease in visibility as you keep working and when you block your work.
Extra stitches occur due to either accidental yarn overs or inadvertent knitting into space between stitches. An "accidental yarn over" occurs when you bring your yarn to the front of the work (as opposed to keeping it in the back). Then, when you go to knit the next stitch, the working yarn goes up and over your needle, creating an extra loop on your needle as it makes that next stitch.
Below, discover some common extra-stitch situations—and how to extract yourself from each scenario.
Knitting in Space Between Stitches
Sometimes you accidentally knit in the space between two stitches. Above, the needle isn't going through an existing stitch, it is going underneath the working yarn from the prior row. This will also create an extra stitch.
Catching Extra Stitches
The best way to catch extra stitches is to look at your fabric regularly to spot any unusual-looking holes or places where the stitch doesn't look quite right. Above is an accidental yarn over as it looks from the purl side. Also, count your stitches regularly. If you are adding extra stitches, your count will go up.
Fixing Extra Stitches in Last 2 Rows
The best way to fix an extra stitch depends on where it is located. If the extra stitch was added within the last one to two rows, the easiest fix is simply to pull the extra stitches off your needle. The working yarn in the one to two rows will be a little loose, and you might have a bigger-looking stitch there, but it will be better than a giant hole.
Fixing Recent and Past Extra Stitches
If you're a perfectionist and the offending extra stitch was recent, you can knit backward stitch by stitch (this is called "tinking") to reach the offending stitch. You do this by inserting your left-hand needle underneath the last completed stitch (see above) and pulling out the working yarn as you transfer the stitch from the right-hand needle back onto your left.
And if the offending extra stitch happened long ago? You may just want to rip out your knitting until you remove the offending stitch. Take your work off the needles and lay it down somewhere flat. Slowly pull the working yarn out of the stitches until you undo the extra stitch.
Picking Up Stitches
After ripping out knitting comes picking up the stitches. You want the right half of the stitch or "leg" to be in front of the needle. If one of the stitches has ripped down another row, don't worry—just put the last visible stitch on the needle, note its location, and keep going. After you pick up the whole row of stitches, return to the location of the dropped stitch. Simply use your new technique of picking up dropped stitches from above.
Knitting 2 Stitches Together
If you just want to keep rolling with this lovely new craft, then a great option is to knit two stitches together into one stitch, which will bring your stitch count down to the correct number.
With two stitches knit together over an extra stitch below, you will end up with a hole in your fabric. But it's your first project, after all, and mistakes show that your work is lovingly handmade.
The biggest cause of twisted stitches (see above) is that a picked-up stitch gets put on the needle the wrong way (left leg in front) or you knit through the back of a stitch. The best way to catch this is to look at your knitting often. Every row or two, take the opportunity to look at the fabric and see how the stitches are falling.
How to Fix a Twisted Stitch
Fix a twisted stitch by returning to the offending stitch by "tinking" or ripping out what you've knitted. You can also stop right above the twisted stitch. Pull out any stitches above it and pull out the offending stitch (see photo above). Then, pick up the dropped stitch.
Tension Is Too Tight
New knitters tend to hold their yarn tightly, and they knit at the tips of their needles for the same reason (see above). If you knit on the tips, you basically are making your new stitches smaller than the size of your needles, because you are knitting at the narrowest part. Then, when you push your new itty-bitty stitch onto the rest of the needle, it's extra tight.
When your knitting stitches are super snug to the needle and you have a hard time moving them back and forth, this is the best indicator that you are knitting too tightly.
How to Prevent Too-Tight Tension
To prevent this, the first step is to relax—drop your shoulders and take deep breaths. Try starting on bigger needles in the beginning, as they are easier to work with. Size 10 needles are great for beginners. Choose bamboo or wood iterations, which hold the yarn a bit better than slipperier metal needles.
Finally, make sure as you knit that each stitch is going fully onto the fat part of the needle before you begin your next stitch. This practice will result in more even stitches and a more relaxed tension.