Well, the baby cardigan isn't finished yet! I have done the back and the right front, and started the left front yesterday. For the third time! Why? Well, I am making lots of mistakes!
It is easy to make mistakes with knitting - and not so easy to unmake them!
Common causes for making mistakes are ...
- Not looking at what you are doing! I find this a problem when I am sitting with Papa Bear and the cubs in the evening and we are all talking together. I pay attention to them, and not to the knitting - which is of course how it should be, but it means that the knitting goes wrong, and I don't notice until I get to the end of a row and find I can't finish my pattern repeat!
- Not doing regular stitch counts. If you do this, you'll pick up mistakes even if you can't see them. I try to remember to do one at the end of every pattern block (say, every 4 rows, if the pattern takes that many rows to complete). If I'm wrong, then I only have a few rows to take back before I get to the last time I did a count, when everything was right.
- Dropping stitches - especially when you are doing reductions and increases within a row. I often forget to put the yarn over the needle (yfw) when I am doing a lace pattern - and I don't notice until I get to the end of the row, or the next pattern row, because the pattern repeat for the rest of the row isn't affected.
- Not reading the pattern properly! This is my usual reason for making mistakes. I get over-enthusiastic, and stop checking the pattern. Or I find I am looking at the wrong instructions! If there are instructions for several sizes on the pattern you are using, you can go through the instructions and put a ring round the numbers that correspond to the size you are working. I tend not to do this, as I re-use my patterns and may not always want to use the same size each time. So I must learn to concentrate a little harder - and remember to wear my reading glasses, too!
- Being overambitious, and trying to do a pattern I'm really not capable of. I have done this several times! I struggle with patterns that have many rows for each block - say over 10. It's so easy to lose track of which row I am on. Unless I can concentrate completely, then I'll make mistakes - and if I have to concentrate that hard not to make mistakes, I'm not really enjoying my knitting.
There are ways of course to undo mistakes - some easier than others. The easiest way of course, but the one that makes me feel most disappointed, is to just unravel the whole entire piece of knitting and start over. If you are working a really complicated lace pattern, or a design with several colours of yarn, and you are not too far into the knitting, then I would advise doing this, especially if like me you are not super-brilliant at remedying your mistakes with the more complicated methods. It is just easier than trying to find where the mistake actually is, and then rectifying it without unravelling.
If you can see the mistake easily, and you only have a few rows to unravel, then you can do this, but be careful. Pull the yarn very gently so you don't lose any stitches on the rows you want to keep (it is all too easy to do this - and you will see your hard work literally slipping away from you if you do go too fast!). I would always take the knitting back to a row where there is no pattern to knit (usually a purl row) if you are knitting a pattern, rather than trying to pick up a row with lots of reductions and increases, as it is easy to get these stitches confused and still not have the knitting right after you are done. Be sure you know which row you are on, when you resume your work!
If you have dropped a stitch, and you are a confident knitter, you can pick that one stitch up even when it is several rows back. This only works on garter or stocking stitch, unless you are very experienced and can re-work a pattern confidently. Take the row you are knitting on back to the stitch on the needle which corresponds with the dropped stitch on the row below (may be several rows before the one you are on). Now for the scary bit! You will need to slip off the needle the stitch above the dropped stitch, and then undo each stitch beneath it until you get to the dropped stitch. Hold the knitting very carefully as you do this, and try not to pull, incase you undo more stitches. Using a spare needle, now begin to "re-knit" the dropped stitch by picking it up and then looping it through the stitch above (which you have dropped off the needle). Pull it either in front of the stitch above, or behind, depending on whether it is a purl or knit row). Repeat until you get to the row you are working on (this makes more sense, when you are actually doing it, than it does to try to describe it in writing). When you get to the final stitch, return it to the needle, and now reknit the row as usual.
Sometimes you will just have a stitch that looks a little loose when you come to look at your work, and I tend not to worry too much about these. I just work them into the garment with a draning needle, by drawing the loop to the back (wrong side) of the work, and then adjusting the stitches on either side to accommodate it. If it is really loose, or it is making it seem as if there is a hole, you can very carefully put a couple of tiny stitches using ordinary sewing floss into it, to tighten it up. Generally however, once a garment has been worn and laundered a couple of times, these loose stitches seem to disappear.
As I've said before, everyone makes mistakes with their knitting from time to time! It is part of the charm of hand-crafted garments that their small flaws and imperfections make them so unique and precious. After all, we aren't perfect, are we? But we still love each other - and the wonderful Creator that made us!