Fix It or Forget It?

Fixing a miscrossed cable

There seem to be two schools of knitting (with a half of a school in the middle): those who rip out rows to fix mistakes and those who keep on truckin'. I'm in the "middle school," with occasional side trips to the school of keep on truckin'.

Wherever you fall on the spectrum, there's a crucial element involved—evaluating the mistake and deciding whether or not to fix it. Here's some advice that I hope will help you make a decision you're satisfied with.

To Rip or Not to Rip?

First of all, there are no knitting police. You are the boss of your knitting, so you need to make the decision about whether to fix a mistake. We want to love our knitting, both during the knitting process and while wearing it for years afterward, and knowing whether or not to fix a mistake or not is something that will affect our affection for our handknits.

Using a lifeline

Here are three guidelines that I use when I find a mistake in my knitting.

Is the mistake going to make the finished piece too big/small/short/long, etc.?

Fix it! I recently started the back of a sweater, and I knit along mindlessly for five inches. One evening when I set down my knitting, I thought, "That looks awfully wide." Yeah. It was 10 inches too wide. You read that right—10 inches! I ripped it out and started over.

Is the mistake something small, like a skipped stitch, a join that might show a tiny bit, or a dropped stitch that you can weave into the wrong side of the piece?

Forget it! And forget any other mistake that aren't going to bother you. And be honest with yourself about this—see the next item.

Is the mistake going to bother you forever or make you not use your handknit item?

Fix it! It doesn't make sense to leave a mistake in your knitting if it's going to drive you crazy. Just rip it out and do it right. (And if your piece is a gift, you should probably fix the mistake.)

Is the mistake going to cause a domino effect in the rest of your pattern?

Fixing a mistake in lace

Fix it! If you have the incorrect stitch count and you're working an cable or lace pattern-or any pattern that's based on a certain number of stitches—you'll probably need to restart the project with the correct number of stitches. I have, on occasion, tried to increase or decrease stitches to get to the correct stitch count, and this can work out, but I find it's a better fix for cable patterns than for lace patterns. I've spent hours trying to finagle an added stitch into a lace pattern, only to have to rip it out in the end.

If you want to fix a mistake and you're not sure how to do it, check out Kate Atherley's wonderful video Fixing Knitting Mistakes. She'll show you more than 50 ways to fix just about any mistake that you might make.

Here's to loving our knitting!


P.S. How do you decide whether to fix a mistake? Leave a comment and tell us!

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