Fixing a Backwards Stitch in your Knits

I hope you all had a fabulous weekend!  I ended up taking care of my sick husband for the better part of it; luckily he took a lot of naps so I was able to get good, long chunks of sewing time in.  Just wait though… in a few days time I bet I’ll be sick.  *knocks on wood*

Last week, I happened to be knitting right before bed (aka in bed) on my Basque Cardigan and I decided to stop and admire my handiwork.  To my surprise I had failed to notice some 20 rows down that I had a stitch that was supposed to be a Knit stitch, but instead it was a Purl stitch. Eeeep!

Can you see it?!  My knitting needle is pointing to a bump, which is a purl stitch that should be a knit stitch.

Here’s the full, front of my Basque Cardigan:

I know no one will able to see such a small mistake as this except for myself, but imagine if you’re working in a chunky knit where each stitch is very visible.  The mistake there would be very obvious…

I was going to fix it right then and there, instead I thought that it would make for a perfect blog post for the newbie knitters.  So I decided to ignore the error till I got around to take photos for you all and show how I go about fixing the mistake.  Initially the mistake was only 20 rows down while now it’s more like 30 or 40.  heh  As you can imagine, the further down the mistake is, the longer it will take to fix my backwards stitch.

The best time to catch mistakes is right away, and hopefully on the same row that you happened to make the mistake.  But sometimes you don’t see these things until much later like me, when I assumed that I was doing perfect knitting and wasn’t….  :)

How To Fix a Backwards Stitch:

Supplies Needed:
1 Crochet Hook (comparable size to your knitting needles)
1 Stitch Marker or Safety Pin

What has to happen is that we need to release the one column of stitches (where the error occurred) and turn the purl stitch into a knit stitch.  Basically you drop one stitch on purpose, let it run all the way down to the error and work your way back up.

The first thing you’re going to want to do is stick your stitch marker (or safety pin) into the stitch that is right below the mistake.

Doing so will ensure that we don’t pull out our knitting too far; the stitch marker physically won’t allow us to pull our work further than we want to.  (Can you see the little purl stitch right by the stitch marker now?)

To Drop A Stitch:

To drop your stitch, you’re going to first assess which column of stitches in which your backwards stitch occurred in.  Work the next row, until you get to within 1 column of the ‘error column’.

You’re going to end up having two knitting needles with live stitches on it.  Be sure to take extra care that you don’t drop stitches off your needles while we’re doing this surgery.  (Another option would be to use a stitch holder instead of having live stitches on your needles, but either way works just fine.)

Pull off the single stitch on your knitting needles in the same column in which the error happened.

I’ve circled the live stitch in white, above, that I just dropped off my knitting needle.

Slide the two sides of your work to the ends of the knitting needles so your stitches have no chance of falling off.  This would be a great time to put on your needle protectors if you have them.

Doesn’t this feel wrong?! We’re doing the single one thing we’re not supposed to do in knitting, dropping stitches.

Create a Run:

Carefully pull your knitting apart to force the one column of stitches to run all the way down, just past the error.

Scary??  What’s great is that you’ll notice that no other stitches are being affected by this one column.  I find that in learning how to correct mistakes with knitting, gives one a wonderful insight into how each stitch is interconnected to the rest, it’s a wonderful anatomy lesson of knitting.

Keep pulling your two sections apart:

Keep unraveling:

Aaand I’ve finally reached the stitch counter with the live stitch on it:

Not too bad right?!

Just remember to be gentle but you may have to coax your stitches apart.  Once you’re done, you’ll see a bunch of bars where you used to have stitches.

Here’s how much I had to pull out… Craziness!

To me that was the hardest part….

Since we just pulled out our stitches 1 row below the error stitch, we technically already fixed the problem of the backwards stitch!

All we have to do now is work our way back up to the top, creating one knit stitch for every bar we come across (1 per row).  This is where the crochet hook becomes a handy tool to have.

Insert your crochet hook into the live stitch that your stitch marker (or safety-pin) is holding on to:

And remove the stitch marker:

How you work a knit stitch upwards with your crochet hook:

1.) Keeping the live stitch on the hook, insert your hook into the 1st bar (uppermost of your live stitch) from underneath.

2.) Pull the ‘bar’ or stitch on the left side of the crochet hook through the stitch on the right .

The act of pulling one bar-stitch through the current live stitch (stitch on the right) creates a knit stitch.

(You’ll find that it’s a matter of how you hold your work whether you think of the bar stitch as the left stitch, or top stitch.)

In crochet this is called a slip stitch: pulling one stitch through another without using any working yarn.  It’s also similar to how one picks up stitches on an edge in order to work a neckband, or button band with knitting.

Want to see it once more?  (This time I worked all the way up before doing more photos.)

On the crochet hook you have your current live stitch:

Insert the hook underneath the next bar up, from the bottom towards the top and then pull the bar stitch through the live stitch on your crochet hook following the white arrow:

Once you get the rhythm of the crochet hook and how to make your knit stitches using the bars, it should be easy as pie to go all the way back up.

I pulled the last bar through and am left with 1 live stitch on the crochet hook.  All that’s left is to transfer this live stitch back onto the knitting needles.

Using the knitting needle, pierce the live stitch that is on the crochet hook:

Pull out the crochet hook and you’re good to go!

At this point, you’ll be in the middle of your work.  So just continue knitting on your merry way as the pattern instructs…

Oh!  Before I forget, be sure to examine your work to make sure you caught all of the bars and to ensure that you don’t have anymore backwards stitches.  And don’t forget to inspect your work every so often for mistakes or dropped stitches.  :)

If you have any questions be sure to leave me a comment and I’ll be happy to answer or clarify any of the steps as needed.

In: Knitting Tutorials

Blogger for 6 years and counting, I am a passionate creator who loves to tinker.

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