Ripping It Out

At some point, most knitters have to rip out work.  Mistakes are not that uncommon even among experienced knitters.  I have often been involved in a discussion with a friend, customer, or colleague about whether she ought to rip out a piece of work.  It is hard to rip out work that we all know took considerable time and effort to knit or crochet.  Consider the following:

  • Will your eye go to the mistake every time you look at the project?
  • Will the error affect the fit (i.e., misplaced decreases or sleeve length)?

If so, then the answer is easy — it must be done. If it is a small mistake in pattern or one too many or few stitches, it depends on whether it will bother you.  Sometimes I find that I can cheat a little by adding a stitch or decreasing one stitch to compensate and only I and a keen observer might notice.

Once, after finishing a garment and blocking it, I discovered a dropped stitch! Well at that point, I was not in the mood to rip out the sleeve.  I determined that I could pick up the dropped stitch and secure it.  It really worked well.  Below is a tutorial, by Michelle Hunter, on how to do this.

What I have learned, however, is that stopping every four or five rows and looking for errors is better than trying to fix a finished garment.  Just taking a few minutes to measure carefully and/or count stitches are well worth the time.

Last week, I finished the Waterrock Vest.  After seaming the shoulders, the pattern called for an Icord edge on the armholes and neck edge.  This is a soft, pretty finish that looks really nice.  It is fun and easy to do, so I was all in.  As directed in the pattern, I started on the armholes and everything went according to plan.

The neck edge was a whole different story.  The pattern stated:  with back facing, beginning at the right shoulder, PU 78 (84, 90, 96, 104, 110) stitches around the neck.  I started by placing stitch markers at each shoulder and the center of the front and back, dividing the neckline into four equal parts.  I divided the number of stitches to be picked up (84) by 4.  Then, I picked up 21 stitches in each of the four sections.  I knitted the full Icord edging.  I didn’t like the way it looked and, more importantly, when I tried it on before blocking, the neck was too tight.  Needless to say, this was an occasion for ripping it out — and it was well worth the effort.  See the first try on the left and the second on the right.  You’ll notice that there was some bunching at the neckline on my first try — an indicator that I did not pick up enough stitches.

First Try at Icord Neckline  Neckline second try

It wasn’t difficult to rip out and start again.  This time, I added a couple of stitches in each section. The second try was a success.  The neckline looked better, and the vest slipped over my head easily. This was a time when ripping out and starting over paid off.

Below is a good slow motion look at picking up stitches by VeryPink Knits.

I know myself.  If I had not fixed the neck, I just wouldn’t have worn it and all of the time and effort knitting it would have been wasted.  So, the next time you are considering whether or not to rip, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Can I fix it ripping it out?
  • Can I live without with the mistake or will I notice it every time see my project?
  • Does the mistake affect the overall fit of the garment? 

I’ve learned that I learn from my mistakes, so ripping out and correcting is an opportunity to learn and practice.  I also know that I tend to retain those lessons longer.  Happy stitching!