Dropped edge stitches are scary. They make the edge of the fabric look so messy that it seems that the only way to fix it is to undo everything and start from scratch.
Fortunately, the hopelessness of this situation is just an illusion. Dropped edge stitches are fairly easy to fix when we understand what’s going on at that scary messy part of our project.
We’ve already discussed a simple way to fix a dropped edge stitch in a project worked in stockinette stitch or the one that has slip-stitch selvedges (you’ll find that tutorial right here).
Now, let’s see how we can fix the edge of a project worked in garter stitch, or the one decorated with garter stitch selvedges.
If you prefer to learn from a video, click here, or scroll to the bottom of this page to watch an embedded version of the video tutorial.
Before we get started, let’s understand that if we examine one side of a garter stitch fabric, we’ll see that the texture is formed by knit stitches in one row and purl stitches in the next row. That means that when we pick up a dropped stitch, we should alternate knitting and purling the unravelled strands through that runaway stitch.
The tricky part here is to decide whether we should start the fixing process with a knit or with a purl, but we’ll get to solve that mystery a bit later.
First, we should stop the edge stitch from unravelling any further. As soon as you notice a mischievous stitch sticking out at the bottom of a messy part at the side edge of your project, put a safety pin, a locking stitch marker, a paper clip, a toothpick or anything else you have on hand into that stitch to make sure it doesn’t do any more damage.
Do it even if you notice this stitch while you are in the middle of a row. The sooner we secure the stitch, the less mess we’ll have to fix.
Now, let’s sort out the mess at the edge of the project.
Turn the work so that the unravelled edge is at the right side of the work. Hold the messy part with your right hand and carefully pull it away from the project.
As you do that, you will notice that what looked like a scary mess is, in fact, a set of loops. Not that scary any more, right? 🙂
You can also untangle the loops one by one starting with the loop at the very top of the messy part of the edge. If a loop managed to loosen the neighbouring stitches, tug on it to tighten those loose stitches.
Make sure all loops at the edge of your project are of the same size.
If you have a half-loop right next to the runaway stitch (as it is shown in the photo below), take the safety pin out of the stitch, carefully unravel one more stitch to release the loop and secure the open stitch again.
Each loop represents two stitches – the edge stitch of one row and the edge stitch of the row above.
We already know that the garter stitch is built by knit stitches in one row and purl stitches in the next row (when we look at one side of a garter stitch fabric), so to fix the edge, we’ll make a knit and a purl stitch out of each loop we’ve just recovered.
Now place the work on a flat surface, remove the pin from the runaway stitch (keep an eye on that little guy, don’t let it run away from you again!) and take an empty knitting needle in your right hand.
FIXING THE EDGE OF A GARTER STITCH FORMED BY KNIT STITCHES
If you formed the garter stitch in your project by knitting all stitches in each row, the open stitch at the very bottom of the messy part of the edge is a knit stitch. That means that we’ll start fixing the yarn loops by making a purl stitch.
Here’s how we do it step by step. You can also watch these steps in this part of the video tutorial.
1. MAKING A PURL STITCH
1.1. Insert the tip of the left needle from front to back into a loop that is the closest to the open stitch, and from back to front into the stitch itself.
1.2. Use the tip of the right needle or your fingers to move the loop to the front of the runaway stitch.
1.3. Insert the right needle from right to left into the mischievous stitch.
1.4. Pass this stitch over the yarn strand and off the left needle.
1.5. Slip the resulting stitch from the left needle to the right needle. Do it purlwise, meaning that you insert the tip of the right needle into the stitch from right to left, and then take the left needle out leaving the stitch on the right needle.
As you see, we still have half of the yarn loop hanging behind the fixed stitch. We’ll use that loop to make one more stitch – this time it will be a knit.
2. MAKING A KNIT STITCH
2.1. With the stitch still on the right needle, insert the tip of the right needle under the other half of the same yarn loop.
2.2. Then insert the tip of the left needle from left to right into the stitch.
2.3. And pass the stitch over the strand on the right needle and off the needle.
We’ve just turned one of the loops into two stitches – a purl and a knit.
Repeat steps 1 and 2 again until you fix all yarn loops at the edge of the fabric.
FIXING THE EDGE OF A GARTER STITCH FORMED BY PURL STITCHES
If the garter edge in your project is formed by purling stitches in every row, then the open stitch at the bottom of the messy part is a purl stitch. We are still going to convert each yarn loop into two stitches, but this time, we’ll start with a knit stitch followed by a purl.
Here’s how we do it. These steps are also shown in this part of the video tutorial.
1A. MAKING A KNIT STITCH
1.1. Insert the tip of the right needle from front to back into the open stitch and from back to front into the yarn loop that is the closest to the open stitch.
1.2. Then insert the tip of the left needle from left to right into the stitch sitting on the right needle.
1.3. Pass the stitch over the strand and off the right needle.
We’ve just turned one half of the yarn loop into a knit stitch. Now let’s turn the other half into a purl.
2A. MAKING A PURL STITCH
2.1. Insert the tip of the left needle from back to front under the other half of the same yarn loop and from left to right into a stitch sitting on the right needle. Take the right needle out leaving the stitch on the left needle.
2.2. With the tip of the right needle, move the yarn strand to the front of the stitch.
2.3. Insert the tip of the right needle from right to left into the first stitch on the left needle.
2.4. And pass this stitch over the yarn strand and off the left needle.
Repeat steps 1A and 2A until you turn each unravelled yarn loop into a knit + purl stitch combo.
When all yarn loops at the edge of the fabric are fixed, resume working on your project as if nothing has ever happened. The section of the edge that we’ve just repaired might be a bit loose, but you will easily fix this imperfection when you block your project. Or, use the dry blocking technique to neaten the edge right away.