I’ve been postponing this tutorial for quite some time. I thought that this technique is so simple that it is not even worth mentioning. Then I’ve got a question from Nichole in a comment on YouTube. She asked whether I have a tutorial on how to fix big stitches. That’s when I realized that even though this little technique is quite straightforward, it might not be obvious to everyone.
So, with big thanks to Nichole for bringing up this issue, let’s take a look at one of the easiest knitting techniques out there 🙂
If you prefer to learn from a video, click here.
Just to be clear – when I say “big stitches” I don’t mean holes that result from knitting mistakes. If you have issues with those, click here to read a tutorial that should help you prevent and fix unwanted holes.
In this tutorial, we’ll deal with stitches that somehow got enlarged – either because something caught on the knitted fabric creating a snag, or because our knitting tension was uneven while we worked on the project.
To better understand how to fix these big stitches, let’s remind ourselves that every row of knitting represents a wave, just like the one you see in the middle of this swatch:
We discussed this concept when we were figuring out how the knitted fabric is formed.
What happens when a stitch gets enlarged? One segment of the wave that forms a row becomes bigger than other segments (i.e. stitches).
Because all stitches are linked (it is a wave after all, right? 🙂 we can easily even them out by redistributing the yarn.
How do we do it? By pulling the stitches that are connected to the enlarged stitch.
To test this simple technique, take a wool needle and a piece of fabric made in stockinette stitch.
Of course, this technique is the same for fabric worked in any stitch pattern, but we’ll see the results better on a flat surface formed by stockinette stitch.
Now pull one or a few stitches with the wool needle to make those stitches bigger. It is better to use the blunt tip of a wool needle to make sure we don’t split the yarn.
The swatch looks quite messy by don’t worry – we’ll fix it in a moment after we perform two simple steps.
With the right side of the work facing to you, insert the wool needle under the left leg of a stitch that is at the right side of the big stitch.
Pull this strand a bit to make the big stitch smaller.
Now, insert the wool needle under the right leg of a stitch that is at the left side of the big stitch.
Pull this strand to make the big stitch the same size as the rest of the stitches.
In the photo, the wool needle points at the stitch that used to be enlarged. If not for that marker, it would be hard to tell this stitch from the rest of the stitches.
These one-off giants are often fixed by readjusting just two stitches – one at each side of the big stitch.
But when we deal with a cluster of enlarged stitches, it takes a bit longer to properly redistribute the yarn.
The process is the same. Start with the stitch at the centre of the cluster and pull the strands next to it to make this stitch as big as any average stitch in the fabric.
Then adjust the size of the stitches at each side of the central stitch. Then go on resizing the stitches that are at each side of those stitches until all stitches are evened out.
This same “strand pulling” technique can easily fix loose stitches that often accompany slip stitch selvedges (edge stitches formed by slipping the first and purling the last stitches of every row).
To adjust these loose stitches pull the right leg of the selvedge stitch that is adjacent to the loose stitch.
Here’s how to do it at the right edge of the fabric:
And here’s how to it at the left edge:
No matter how grave is the situation you are dealing with, don’t worry if the work doesn’t look perfect after we redistributed the yarn in Step 1. We’ll improve the look of the fabric in the next step.
Now that the stitches are more or less even, pull the fabric sideways.
Then pull it again between the cast on and the bind off edges, just as we do when we block our knits.
This simple action will fix any unevenness in the fabric and completely conceal the spot that had enlarged stitches.
As you see, our swatch looks exactly like it did before we tampered with it. There is no sign of enlarged stitches.
If you look closely at the swatch, you will notice that stitches of every other row are a bit bigger and they form subtle horizontal lines.
It is another common issue with loose stitches, but it is hard to fix it by redistributing the yarn. It will take forever to pull every stitch of every other row in a sweater, for example.
Thankfully, there are other ways to deal with this imperfection. Some of them are described in this tutorial.
Now you are well-armed to tackle all kinds of loose stitches in your knitting. That means that from now on your projects will look impeccable even though they did have a few uneven stitches at some point. No one will ever know about that. It will be our little secret 🙂
If you enjoyed this tutorial,
here’s something else you might find helpful:
“Neat Side Edges” Book
Learn twelve ways to make side edges of a knitted project nice and tidy. Plus, ways to fix side edges, and a way to improve edges of finished projects.