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How to Fix Mistakes In Knitting

Klara Nilsson | Updated on May 1, 2023

Here you’ll learn how to fix the most common mistakes in knitting, from dropped stitches to accidental holes and uneven tension. We’ll explain how to knit backwards to undo mistakes, how to unravel your knitting, and how to prevent mistakes in the first place.
How to Fix Knitting Mistakes

Learning to fix your mistakes is one of the most important steps you can take in your knitting journey.

When you’re just starting out, even the simplest problems can seem too difficult or overwhelming to solve. One mistake can make you want to give up your project altogether.

Whether you’ve dropped a stitch, found a hole, or added some extra stitches by accident, mistakes are an inevitable part of knitting. Fortunately, all of these issues can be fixed easily. You’re in the right place!

In this article, we’ll explain exactly how to fix your knitting mistakes. You’ll learn about the most common mistakes in knitting, how to correct them, and how to prevent them from happening in the first place.

Let’s get started!

What’s In This Guide?

How to Fix Knitting Mistakes (3 Easiest Methods)

The best way to fix your mistake will depend on the nature of the mistake and where it is in your project.

Although every knitting mistake will have its own ideal solution, the following three methods are the most common ways to fix mistakes in knitting, and the methods you should learn first.

In most cases, you’ll choose from one of these methods to correct a mistake in your knitting:

1. Undo Your Knitting or “Knit Backwards” (Tinking)

If you’ve noticed a mistake that’s fairly recent — a few stitches back, or in the row you’ve just knitted, for example — then the best way to fix it is to “unknit” back to the problem. This technique is also known as “tinking”, because “tink” is “knit” spelt backwards.

By knitting backwards until the location of the issue, you can fix the mistake without taking your knitting off the needles or worrying about your work unraveling.

For example, say you’ve accidentally knitted a purl stitch instead of a knit stitch. To fix it, simply unknit one stitch at a time all the way back to the problem, undo the stitch with the mistake, and then knit it again correctly.

Here’s how to undo your knitting or “knit backwards” to fix a mistake:

  1. Insert your left-hand needle into the stitch below the live stitch on the right-hand needle.
  2. Slip the stitch off the right-hand needle and then pull the working yarn up and away from you.
  3. The stitch above it will unravel, while the stitch from the row underneath will stay on your needle.
  4. Continue doing this throughout your knitting until you reach the mistake.

The video below demonstrates exactly how to fix your mistakes by knitting backwards:

YouTube video

2. Drop Your Stitches and Pick Them Back Up

If you need to fix a knitting mistake that’s several rows down, you can deliberately drop your stitches to correct it without unraveling your project.

To do this, you first need to identify the vertical column of stitches the mistake is in, then knit (or unknit) to the stitch at the top of that column. At this point, the stitch on your left needle should belong to that same column of stitches, directly above the mistake.

How to Fix Knitting Mistakes by Dropping a Stitch 1
Here, the stitch on our left needle is directly above the problem stitch.

Now you’re here, slip the stitch from your left needle and let it unravel down to the mistake. It should look like a ladder in your work.

Dropped Stitch Ladder
When your dropped stitch unravels, it should look like a ladder with “rungs” of yarn.

Once the stitch has unraveled to the mistake, you can reknit the problem stitch and then pick up your stitches along the ladder to your needle. The simplest way to do this is with a crochet hook.

This is the easiest way to fix a mistake that’s several rows down, and the easiest way to correct mistakes vertically.

You can also use this method if you accidentally slip a stitch and it unravels to the row below — simply pick up that dropped stitch using a crochet hook.

Here’s a summary of how to fix mistakes vertically using a drop stitch:

  1. Identify the mistake and which column of stitches it is in.
  2. On your current row, knit (or unknit) until you arrive at the stitch that belongs to that column. It should be directly above the mistake.
  3. Slip your stitch and let it unravel down to the mistake. It should look like a ladder.
  4. Reknit the faulty stitch.
  5. Work the stitch back up the ladder to your needle.

Here’s a video demonstrating exactly how to pick up your stitch once it’s dropped:

YouTube video

3. Unravel Your Knitting (Frogging)

If you can’t fix the mistake using the methods above, it’s sometimes easiest to simply unravel your work back to the problem and start re-knitting from there. This process is also known as frogging.

To do this, simply slip your knitting off the needles and carefully pull the yarn to unravel your stitches, row by row. Once you reach the problem area, carefully pick up your live stitches and put them back on the needle.

Here’s a video explaining how to unravel your knitting to fix a mistake:

YouTube video

TIP: If you’re worried about picking up your stitches after unraveling, it can be easier to use a smaller needle size at first and then transfer the stitches back onto your working needles.

How to Prevent Mistakes In Your Knitting

Obviously, it’s better to avoid making mistakes than it is to fix them. That’s time that could be spent finishing your project!

Unfortunately, mistakes are an inevitable part of the knitting process. You shouldn’t feel bad for making them — everybody does.

However, there are some small steps you can take to make sure they happen a little bit less often:

Pick the Right Yarn

It might seem trivial, but choosing the right yarn can have a huge impact on the outcome of your project. Even if you knit flawlessly, the wrong yarn can make the knitting process more difficult, more prone to mistakes, and the outcome underwhelming.

If you’re following a pattern, make sure to follow the designer’s recommendations closely if you want similar results. If you’re substituting yarns, make sure you knit a swatch to check your gauge is correct.

Avoid Bad Lighting

You can make your life a lot less stressful by knitting under good lighting. It makes it much easier to avoid mistakes, much less strenuous on your eyes, and much easier to notice mistakes if you do make them.

Check Your Knitting Regularly

The earlier you identify a mistake in your knitting, the easier it will be to fix. That’s why it’s so important to check your work regularly.

Try to stop every few rows and take a good look at your knitting. If you find an issue, it’ll be much easier to correct it without unraveling your work or wasting too much time.

If you’re a beginner, make sure you learn to count your knitting rows and “read” your knitting manually. The more familiar you are with how your work should look, the easier it will be to spot when something’s wrong.

When checking your knitting, look out for:

  • Stitches that seem “twisted” or out of line
  • Holes, stitches, or loops that shouldn’t be there
  • Sections that are knitted too tightly or too loose
  • Stitches that look otherwise unusual

Common Knitting Mistakes & How to Fix Them

In this section, we’ve outlined the most common knitting mistakes and exactly how to fix them, even if you’re a beginner.

If you’ve identified a mistake and read the methods above, but you’re still not sure how to correct it, this section is for you.

Dropped Stitch

Dropped stitches happen all the time, so it’s important you learn how to fix them.

A stitch might fall off the end of your needle when you’re not paying attention, or slip off when you’re traveling. It’s something you’ll have to get used to!

Fortunately, dropped stitches are nothing to worry about. Even if the stitch has fallen off and unraveled a few rows, it’s easily fixable with a crochet hook.

How to Fix a Dropped Stitch

The easiest way to fix a dropped stitch is with a crochet hook. This method is super simple and works for both knit and purl stitches. If you’re fixing a purl stitch, it’s a bit easier if you do it on the wrong side of your knitting.

If you have just dropped the stitch, you don’t even need to use a crochet hook to fix it. Simply pinch just below the stitch to keep it from unraveling, then pick the dropped stitch back up by inserting your left-hand needle into it from the front.

If the dropped stitch has already unraveled, the solution is a little more involved. You’ll see the stitch hanging at the bottom of what looks like a ladder with a series of rungs. These rungs are the working yarn from each row that came out of that dropped stitch.

Dropped Stitch Unraveled
Once the dropped stitch has unraveled, you’ll see it hanging at the bottom of a ladder with a series of rungs.

To fix it, you’ll need to pull the lost stitch back up the ladder rungs, recreating the stitches for each row. When you reach the top, you can then place the dropped stitch back on the needle.

Here’s how to fix a dropped stitch with a crochet hook:

  1. Insert the crochet hook into the dropped stitch. If it’s a knit stitch, insert the hook from the front of your work. If it’s a purl stitch, insert it from the back.
  2. If you’re fixing a dropped knit stitch, make sure the yarn from the row is behind the stitch. If you’re fixing a dropped purl stitch, make sure the yarn from the row is in front of the stitch.
  3. Grab the first rung of the ladder with the crochet hook and pull it back through the stitch to the front. You have now reformed the stitch for that row.
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 until all the ladder strands have been re-knit.
  5. Finally, place the dropped stitch back on the left-hand needle.

To see this method in action, watch the video in our section on fixing mistakes by dropping a stitch.

Too Many Stitches

If your knitting is expanding, growing holes, or getting wider unexpectedly, you might be accidentally knitting too many stitches.

There are a few common reasons for additional stitches:

  • You may accidentally knit in the space between two stitches. In this case, your needle isn’t going through an existing stitch, it’s going underneath the working yarn from the previous row.
  • You may have accidentally knit into the first stitch twice, essentially making an accidental increase at the beginning of the row.
  • You may have split a stitch while knitting into it, creating what looks like two stitches.
  • You may have accidentally wrapped the working yarn purl-wise around your needle while knitting, creating a yarn over. This is one of the most common reasons for an additional stitch, so we’ve explained how to fix it specifically in a dedicated section below.

As with most mistakes, the best way to spot unwanted additional stitches is to look at your knitting regularly and check for holes or abnormal-looking stitches.

Make sure to count your stitches regularly, too. If you’re adding accidental stitches, your stitch count will go up.

Below, we explain how to fix unwanted additional stitches in different situations:

Fixing Additional Stitches in the Last Two Rows

If your unwanted stitch was created in the last one or two rows, the easiest way to fix it is to simply pull the extra stitches off your needle.

The working yarn in your most recently-knitted rows will be somewhat looser than usual, but it’s better than having a big hole in your project.

If the stitch was relatively recent, you can also fix an extra stitch by knitting backwards or “tinking”. To do this, insert your left needle into the most recent stitch and pull out the working yarn as you transfer it from the right-hand needle to the left.

We’ve explained how to fix mistakes by knitting backwards in more detail in the section above.

Fixing Additional Stitches Several Rows Down

If the additional stitch happened a long time ago, the simplest solution may be to simply unravel your knitting until you can fix the problem. It might be frustrating, but it’s better than starting from scratch.

Remove your needles from the work and lay it down flat. Using your fingers, slowly pull the working yarn out of the stitches until you undo the unwanted stitch.

Knitting Two Stitches Together

If you count an additional stitch and you just want to keep knitting, you can simply knit two stitches together to bring your total stitch count down to the correct number.

This will typically create a small hole in your fabric, but maybe that’s worth it to avoid unraveling your hard work!

Accidental Yarn Overs

“Yarn overs” are a type of increase commonly used in lace knitting patterns to create small holes. They’re commonly made accidentally by beginner knitters, which results in an unwanted stitch.

An accidental yarn over occurs when you unintentionally wrap the working yarn purl-wise (counter-clockwise) around your needle as you knit. This creates an additional loop on your needle which becomes an extra stitch.

Essentially, whenever your yarn is at the front of the work and your needles unintentionally catch it, you run the risk of an accidental yarn over.

To fix an accidental yarn over, you can simply slip the extra stitch off the needle when you knit the next row. However, this can create a large or loose stitch that might look unsightly.

Alternatively, you can unknit to the location of the additional stitch and unwrap the yarn from the needle.

To prevent this knitting mistake in the future, make sure you always keep the working yarn below the needle (at the back of the work) whenever you’re moving your knitting around.

Twisted Stitches

Twisted stitches can happen for lots of reasons. They most commonly occur when you accidentally knit through the back of a stitch, or when you pick up a dropped stitch and it gets put on the needle in the wrong way.

When you pick up a stitch normally, the left “leg” of the loop should be in the back, and the right “leg” should be in the front.

To fix a twisted stitch, you’ll need to return to the mistake by “tinking” or unraveling the work you’ve already knitted.

You can also stop on the row above the twisted stitch in order to correct it. Once you’re directly above the problem, pull out the stitches above it along with the twisted stitch itself. Then, pick up the dropped stitch.

Your Tension Is Too Tight

Another very common beginner mistake is knitting too tightly, ruining the gauge of the knitting.

If you’re new to knitting, it’s easy to hold the yarn too tightly or to knit at the very tips of your needles.

This makes your stitches smaller than the actual diameter of your needles, because you’re knitting at their most narrow part. That means when you push the stitch onto the needle, it’ll be much tighter than it should be.

If you find it difficult to move your stitches back and forth on your needle, or you’re knitting too many stitches per inch, you’re almost certainly knitting too tightly.

How to Prevent Tight Knitting

To stop yourself from knitting too tightly, try to actively relax your grip as you knit. Hold the yarn more loosely in your palm, and let the needles rest lightly in your hands.

As you knit, make sure you push each stitch back onto the wide part of the needle before you begin knitting the next one. This should result in more even stitches and a much looser tension.

If you find yourself tightening your stitches by tugging on the yarn as you knit, try gently lifting up the right needle after you create each stitch to make it slightly bigger.

It’s worth remembering that the texture of the yarn you’re using will also impact the tightness of your knitting. Fuzzier yarns will generate more friction, so you should try to knit more loosely.

The most important thing you can do to prevent yourself from knitting too tightly is to knit a gauge swatch first. This will help you determine how your tension, needles, and yarn interact, and how many stitches per inch you can expect to knit.

How to Fix Tight Knitting

If you’re in the middle of your project and you realize that large sections have been knitted too tightly, there’s no quick fix. In most cases, you’ll have to unknit or unravel your work and start again.

However, if you’ve finished knitting and you notice that just one or two stitches are too tight, there is a way to even it out. To fix it, use your fingers to pull the yarn from the surrounding stitches and bring it towards the tight stitch.

Casting On Too Tightly

If your knitting seems to get wider as you progress, you may be using a cast-on technique that is too tight for your particular pattern.

Most beginners start out with only one method for casting on, which is completely normal. However, different patterns and projects sometimes require a cast-on that’s more or less stretchy.

If you’re working on a ribbing pattern or a tubular project that requires some flexibility, you might need to adjust your cast-on accordingly.

If you’re not ready to learn a new technique for casting on, you can also adjust the stretchiness or your cast-on by using bigger needles, or by doing it around two needles simultaneously.

Your Knitting Has Holes In It

There are lots of different reasons why your knitting might have holes in it. The most common is an accidental yarn over, which we’ve explained how to fix in the section above.

You may also unintentionally create a hole by accidentally knitting into the front of the stitch when making an m1 increase. To fix this, knit backwards to the mistake and redo the increase, making sure you’re knitting into the back loop rather than the front.

Finally, if you start working on your knitting in the middle of a row, you may accidentally create a hole by knitting in the wrong direction.

We recommend finishing each row completely for the neatest results. If you have to put your work down mid-row, make sure that the working yarn is attached to the last stitch on your right-hand needle when you start knitting again.

Your Knitting Is Uneven or Messy

Messy or uneven knitting is a common problem for new knitters. In most cases, it’ll improve with practice as you find a comfortable and consistent way to hold your yarn and maintain your tension.

Often, blocking your knitting will also help to even out any issues and hide any small mistakes.

Aside from uneven tension, there are some other common mistakes that result in messy knitting too.

For example, if you notice that some of your stitches are crossing over other stitches, you may not be finishing your stitches properly. This can happen when you insert your needle into the stitch and wrap your yarn around the needle, but you slip the old stitch off the left needle without pulling the new loop through it.

The easiest way to fix this is to unknit the stitches that are crossing over each other and redo them, making sure you complete the stitch fully.

You may also produce messy-looking knitting if you’re inserting or exiting your needle incorrectly. If that’s the case, try to slow down and avoid catching the wrong stitch as you insert your needle, or picking up the wrong stitch from the row below.

Mistakes Are Inevitable In Knitting

If you’ve spotted one of these common knitting mistakes in your own work, don’t worry. Even the most experienced knitters make mistakes.

Spend time with your stitchwork and try to identify exactly where you went wrong. Once you’ve figured it out, you can use the instructions in this article to fix the problem.

Learning to fix your mistakes will teach you a lot about the knitting process. Once you’ve dealt with one issue, you’ll be much more likely to avoid the same mistake in the future. Just don’t give up!

In the image below, we’ve summarized the three most important ways to fix mistakes in knitting:

How to Fix Knitting Mistakes

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