Knitting Surgery - It is not as hard as you think!

I recently put up an Instagram post that got a lot of attention. While watching the Olympics I messed up a cable cross on my Amelia Sweater. (I did it twice, but who is counting?)

I make a habit of putting my work down every 20 rows or so to look at the overall piece. You can catch a lot of mistakes before you get too far along. Unfortunately, I did not take a photo of the mistake itself, but trust me it was there.

If a mistake is huge I will rip back the necessary number of rows. But if it is just a cable cross a few rows back? Nope. It is time for some knitting surgery and here is how I do it.

Necessary tools:

  • One Cocoknits blocking board or something you can pin into
  • Pins 
  • Double pointed needles in the size you are knitting with
  • A crochet hook in case the last stitch is hard to knit
  • Stitch markers, you will see why later
  • Your pattern.
  • Patience! Do not do this late at night or if you are exasperated.

1.) The first and, most important step is to know where you are in you pattern. What row have you just completed? Make a note of it! (I circle it.)

2.) Knit to where the mistake is, but do not knit across the section to be fixed.

3.) Put your knitting on the board and pull your needles out so your knitting is on the cord of the circular needle. I pin the needles back, so they do not get in my way.

4.) Then, one at a time, I pull the rows out. With each row I do the following:

  • As you pull the row out, mark it off in your pattern. I was using a chart, so I ticked off each row as I pulled it out.
  • Pin the strand to the left side of your work and then the next strand a bit to the right of the previous one. (As you can see in the photo, I fan out the rows.)
  • Mark the wrong side rows with a stitch marker. This truly helps you keep track as you re-knit the section.
  • Pull out to the row above the mistake.
  • Mistake row - get out the DPN and pull the row out stitch by stitch, putting the stitches, as you think back, on the DPN. (I put a star next to it.)
  • Count to make sure all stitches are on the needle. In my case, I have 14 stitches to knit.

Now unpin the first strand of yarn (the one on the far right) and correctly knit the offending row. If you get to the last stitch and and it is difficult to knit, because you can’t get a hold of the yarn, use your crochet hook to “knit” the stitch on your needle. Tick off that row on your pattern!

This photo is from my other mistake but it shows the stitch on the DPN’s

Then the next row is probably a wrong side row, so slip your stitches to the right side of the needle, pick up the next strand on the right, and knit that row.

Continue in this fashion, pick up strands right to left, until you have knit all the strands.

If you have a few loose or too tight stitches, you can give them a little tug with a tapestry needle. Also don't forget, blocking will help ease everything!

All fixed!
Excuse Basher’s destroyed toy in the background.
He has pulled part of the cover off and the squeaker out but continues to carry it around like a prized possession!

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  • JB on

    This is so helpful. I made the same mistake – twice – on the same sweater. I used essentially the same technique to pull out and reknit the “column” with the error, but didn’t think to secure needle ends and strands so it was like working in a plate of spaghetti! I’m almost looking forward to the next time I need to correct a cable mistake to try this. 😊 Thank you!

  • Maneesha Tikku on

    It is an awesome technique
    I wish someone thought of it earlier

  • Sarah Hawthorne on

    This is awesome! Thank you so much for sharing and for the detailed photos. I’m working on a sweater with cables for the first time (another Rosenthal pattern, actually), and I’m a bit nervous. Reading your blog post is giving me courage that I can do it!

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