How to Unknit – Tinking, Frogging and Safe Frogging

It might seem counterproductive, but we do occasionally need to unravel our knitting. The reason for that is simple – we unknit when we make a mistake and want to fix it. 

It takes a while to finish a handknit project (if you want to get some estimates, check out the Knitting Time Calculator), and it is only natural to try and make it look great. Big visible mistakes can ruin the look of our great projects, so fixing the mistakes is worth sacrificing a few rows of the work and a few minutes of our time.

Depending on where your mistake is and how fast you caught it, there are two main ways to unknit your work. 


If you read the word “knit” backwards, you will understand what “tinking” means. That’s right – it’s backwards knitting. When tinking, we undo the work stitch by stitch.

It’s a safe way to unknit because all your stitches are sitting on a needle at any given moment. There is no risk of dropped stitches or any other accidental unravellings.

The not so good thing about tinking – it’s a slow process. That’s why it works best when the mistake happened in the same or previous row. Or if you work in a complicated stitch pattern like brioche. 

It is possible to tink stitches from left to right and from right to left, depending on whether you start tinking from the middle of the row, or from the beginning of the row after you already turned your work. Generally, you will start tinking as soon as you spot a mistake


If the mistake happened more than four rows down, tinking can take quite some time. In this case, your best bet is to “frog” your work. Frogging is a fancy word that camouflages a much scarier truth – you need to rip out a few rows.

In fact, if you say “rip it” a few times, you will somewhat sound like a frog. That’s how the word “frogging” came to mean “ripping out”.

Etymology aside, this process is not a pleasant one, no matter how we call it. You should treat it like a knitting surgery. That means sitting in a well-lit place, putting your work on a table (or any other flat surface), and focusing on the task at hand.


There is a way to pick up stitches before you take the needle out and unravel those few rows. All you need to do is to go to one row below the mistake, and pick up the right leg of every stitch in that row. Then unravel everything up to the row with the picked up stitches.

Let’s see how this method works.

One warning though – this little trick is helpful if you work in a simple stitch pattern that has purl rows in it – stockinette, stockinette-based cables or a plain eyelet pattern.

It’s not so good for ribbing, seed stitch, brioche and other more complicated stitch patterns. For those stitch patterns, I usually use a lifeline.

There are a few ways to add it to the work, a number of little things to consider and several events when this method lives up to its name. I cover it all in another tutorial. Click here to read it.

The full step-by-step photo tutorial about this method, is a part of the Knitting Collection #1Once you order your copy of this collection, you will instantly receive a “big PDF” (190 pages!) with this and 22 other tutorials included in the collection.

You will also receive two e-books and six knitting patterns as a special bonus, so go ahead and get it all right now before you forget 😊

If you enjoyed this tutorial,
here’s something else you might find helpful:

“Matching Cast Ons and Bind Offs” Book

Discover six pairs of cast on and bind off methods that form identical edges on projects worked flat and in the round.

“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.

Happy knitting!

Maryna Shevchenko -