Sunday, February 8, 2009

Unknitting, Ripping back, Redoing and Fixing Mistakes

The Agony of Repair

As I was thinking, while knitting, about the value of unknitting, ripping back and/or fixing mistakes, a mistake happened. I kept knitting, oblivious to the error. Typically, I've never regretted starting over after using the wrong size needles, or unknitting after missing a decrease, or ripping back after messing up a whole section.

Should I just re-knit it?
The first big knitting problem I encountered was the time I used 8mm needles instead of US 8 needles. I had the whole ribbing section completed on the bottom of a sweater, ready to change needle size before I realized I had used the wrong size needles. I thought about just going with it and continuing with this size needle. I pondered the dilemma for a really long time. Who would know? I think I'm inherently lazy - a failed perfectionist. I'm really glad I did re-cast on and started fresh. The sweater turned out pretty good. Currently, I'm dealing with a sweater-eating dog who ate the sleeve cuff of that sweater - but that's a whole different story.

Bella, a sweater-eating dog! She looks innocent, n'est-ce pas?

While knitting a pair of gloves for a Christmas gift for my mother this year, I added an extra row in a 4 row pattern repeat - twice! I considered not redoing the cuff and relying on miraculous blocking techniques to match the gloves perfectly. My daughter said I was crazy to even think of re-knitting! The Christmas gathering was less than 4 days away. I re-did the one glove anyway. It was easier to re-start the glove than to rip back or unknit to the point of the extra rows. I don't know what I was thinking - relying on blocking! I don't even like to block and shape and don't usually do it with small projects.

This is the matching pair of gloves!

Ripping back ribbing is a nightmare.
I can never situate the stitches on the needles correctly. I tried teaching myself to knit socks on two circular needles at the same time. I think I have directional dyslexia and couldn't keep it straight which way I was going. Those uneven cuffs are lying in the bottom of a basket somewhere. I'm saving the yarn for another pair of socks. I don't mind ripping back stockinette with wool yarn. The stitches seem to stay just fine.

Generally, I rip back instead of unknit so I can go really fast.
I tried to use a smaller needle threaded through the stitches and unravelled to some point, but I couldn't seem to follow the row. I ended up with lots of loops hanging behind the row and had to unknit anyway until all the loops were gone. I probably would have been better off starting over or taking the time to unknit 30 or more rows. I made huge errors with this sweater. I forgot to decrease at the neckline and had to go back about 5 or 6 inches. This was not fun yarn to work with in reverse. I tried to insert a smaller cable needle about where I would want to begin knitting. I could not do it right.

It's finished and I need only to create a belt. I'm glad I did the tedious repair. Actually, I didn't have much of a choice.

The tedious task of unknitting
I'll unknit for a few rows, but beyond that, re-doing or unraveling is how I handle most situations.

I don't fix everything
At times I've not fixed what is clearly a mistake and made it a design element. Without reading the pattern on the toe-up socks I've made plenty of times, I increased for the gusset on the wrong half of the socks and was putting the rib pattern into the gusset area. It turned out fine. An expert might look down upon my socks, but they worked out okay and are unique.

There are funny triangular sections at the gusset, but it works just fine.

Perfection, or not

When I noticed my mistake on the project I was knitting while thinking about this post, I really didn't want to fix it. It was noticeable only on the back of the work. Apparently, I picked up a strand when I inserted the cable needle. There was a strand pulled across the back of the cable area and I noticed it when I reached the next cable crossing 6 rows of 115 stitches later. I wanted to cry. I didn't think I could repair it because, not only did I have to release the cable area, I had to re-do the border stitch, too. It's not perfect and that bugs me, but it's good enough. I think I placed one of the stitches the wrong way, but it's mostly hidden by the cable twist. I hope I don't point it out to people when they compliment me on the sweater.

The repaired cables aren't all that noticeable.

With this light blue center cable v-neck sweater I've crossed one of the cables the wrong way - twice! I've learned how to fix that mistake by now. I'm learning as I go. I thought this would be a simple pattern with enough of a challenge to keep me interested. When I get tired or distracted I really should put away the knitting, but it's an addiction. I think, "Just one more row," or "Just until the decrease," or "Just until the next cable crossing."

The next big fix

I plan to repair/redo/reknit the gnawed sweater cuff. That's a big mistake and I don't know exactly how to tackle the problem. Fortunately, I was able to find the exact yarn - color and dyelot - from a ravelry knitter.

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