“Perfect is the enemy of the good.” -Voltaire
Ripping back knitting can be painful or liberating. Sometimes it is a transition from one perspective to the other. It is usually not easy to make the decision and many things can push you over the edge. Perhaps it is size — I remember a customer that was making a sweater for her husband and it was turning out big enough to fit both her and has husband — at the same time — yet she continued knitting. It will get better, she said. Denial is a powerful opponent.
Then there’s that small error in the lace pattern, “No one will notice.” Sure the scarf will still keep you warm, but will it bother you? My 3D art instructor told us that projects should look as good on the inside as the outside. Then she said, others will not see the inside, but you and God will know the difference. She had a point.
In working on a new hat design that required me to rip the crown off a fully completed hat because the color was “off,” I got to thinking that a few tips for ripping back and fixing errors might be helpful to others.
- Get your head in the right place. Find the learning opportunity. I always try to fix errors if I possibly can. Lace, dropped stitches, forgotten yarn overs, whatever. Even if I don’t succeed in fixing it, I always learn more about how the yarn moves through the row and how the stitches relate to each other. That learning makes future fixes more successful.
Be prepared with the rights tools. I find bamboo needles and locking stitch markers helpful for holding stitches. A Susan Bates Knit Check tool is a must. It has a crochet hook on one end and a pointed end on the other.
- If you must take your stitches fully off the needle, use a needle at least two sizes smaller to pick up the stitches again. The smaller needle will make it easier to orient the stitches and nearly eliminate split stitches. Warning — make sure to resume knitting using the correct needle size.
- Set a pattern in weaving in your ends. In the crown I recently ripped out, I was very grateful that I always weave in ends on my hats in the same way. I was able to find them and tease them out — no scissors needed.
- If you are working with wool or other yarns that respond well to steam, it will help stitches stay where you want them if you steam them before ripping. It will not matter that the yarn is kinked from the steam. Reknit and block and the slight irregularities from steaming will disappear.
Be brave. Learn. Make beautiful work that you will be proud of. Learn to judge for yourself when “good enough” is indeed good enough. Learn when to rip and when to fix. Learn to be kind to yourself and enjoy every part of the knitting process.