When things go wrong

The success of a project really depends on a little planning before you get started. Working your tension square, noting your stitch and row count and the needle/hook size you used to make them and being honest about the size that needs to be made, especially when the style of the garment is close fitting. Also be realistic about where and when you are likely to be working on it, have different projects to hand for different locations, something straightforward for travel, knitting groups or whilst watching those European TV programmes with subtitles and leave those requiring your full concentration to times when you have least interruptions.

However from time to time we all come up against a problem which we didn't envisage whilst the work was in progress.

The amount of time and effort you'll want to spend on trying to resolve the problem will very much depend on the ultimate destination of your project. If this is a "high status" item where you've already invested a great deal of time and money you'll want to try to resolve the issue. If the problem is minor why not wear a brooch, scarf or a necklace that will distract the eye from the mistake.

Here are some tips, and suggestions for the resolution to some common problems provided by Hilary Grundy. if you have any queries, questions or other ways to crack a problem do get in touch with her by email or why not share on the Yahoo members forum.

Too LargeUndo back and front neck cast off edges and part of the welt. Pick up stitches and gradually reduce needle size.
Too SmallMark out the size of neckline needed with different coloured wool. Get out the sewing machine. Stitch round the marked lines, twice. Pick up stitches from underneath the sewn lines and re-knit the neck. Blanket stitch or over-sew to finish.
Wrong ShapeSimilar to above. Machine stitch the shape you desire and follow instructions above.
Too Large/WideTurn sleeve inside out and machine stitch to required size. If you want to cut away excess, then make a double line of stitching. Tailor the seam away to nothing at the armhole.
Too Small/Narrow
  • Knit a fillet - undo seam and insert fillet, using mattress stitch to blend the seam invisibly with its neighbours or
  • Cut the sleeve off just above the elbow, pick up the stitches and knit a short welt or crochet and edge using the live stitches and leave it as a short sleeved garment or
  • Make the garment sleeveless.
Too Long
  • Accept that you will wear the jumper with the cuffs turned back - if you want to neaten the exposed seam, unpick the cuff seam and mattress stitch from reverse side or
  • Cut the ribbing off an inch or so above where you want the wrist edge to be. Pick up the stitches and replace the welt.
Too ShortCut across above ribbing, pick up stitches and work extra rows needed, then kitchener stitch to the rows above. It helps to do this between increase rows.
Too Large/WideAs for too wide sleeves above. Turn garment inside out and machine stitch to the required size.
Too Small/NarrowIf you've knitted in the round, there is little to be done, except sell or give away the garment to a good home - or undo and start again; or if front and back knitted separately, you can add a fillet on either side, you will need to tailor the fillet to correspond with the style of the garment.
Too LongCut across above the ribbing, however much you want to lose in length. Take it back to the ribbing, pick up the stitches and kitchener stitch the ribbing to the body.
Too ShortCut across above the ribbing, pick up stitches at the top of the ribbing and set aside. Pick up stitches from the rest of the garment and work downwards, shaping as necessary, kitchener stitch the ribbing to the body.
Other ProblemsPrevention
Lace Knitting/Knitting LaceWorking a strand of smooth thread at the same time as your yarn through the work at intervals where you are sure the pattern is correct, this means you can take back any mistakes to a row where you know the pattern was right and work forward again from there.
Running out of yarn!Weigh your remaining yarn during work in progress, if you've only 40gms left of a 100gm skein of yarn after finishing the first sock then there will be a problem. Likewise if you've knitted the front and back of a garment and have long sleeves to knit and have less than a third of the total quantity of yarn left then there is likely to be an issue so:-
  • Consider changing the style of the garment, shorter sleeves, shorter leg on a sock or
  • Consider adding stripes of a different colour or
  • Ask on Ravelry if someone has some of the same yarn shade and dyelot in their stash and willing to sell or
  • Look on ebay and similar sites.
Differences in the same dyelot?Having carefully purchased the correct dyelot for your project you sometimes find that different areas of your work shows up inconsistencies. After you have complained to the seller/manufacturer (sending a photo is a good idea if you can't actually send the garment) and hopefully received a refund, you could consider....
  • Tie a strand of cotton tightly around the offending join. Take the work back to that point and start by knitting alternate rows of the different shades or
  • If appropriate, felt the item and make a bag with "feature" shading variations or
  • Take the whole thing back and make a different item or
  • Send to charity shop!
You've followed the pattern but something's wrong?Published patterns aren't always 100% correct. Mistakes do slip through even the most rigorous pattern checking.
  • If in a magazine or publication, look for errata on-line or in the next edition or
  • Ask on Ravelry, many others may be following the same pattern and the designer may have posted a solution, or a work around has been found.
Keeping pattern correct when increasing or decreasing!This can lead to heartache especially where the stitch/colour/lace pattern is complicated. Best to plan on knitters' graph paper, so you can see what you need to do at each stage. Alternatively when working your tension square, you can continue including a part of the side or armhole shaping so you can see how things work.