Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Fixing errors at the sides edges of your knitting

includes 12 illustrations

Have you ever had a terrifying mess like this at the side edge of your knitting?

A mess like this occurs when stitches come loose at the edge and run out. Perhaps a stitch slipped off the needle, perhaps you dropped a stitch near the edge to correct an error and things got out of control. Whichever way it happened, the mess looks scary. A run at the side edge of your knitting creates loops --giant loops--that look nothing like the ladder of an ordinary run.

Most knitters (including, for many years, me) would rather rip back a mess like this than try to fix this on the needles. However, from now on, the situation is altered. No longer do you need to rip back: you can go your way rejoicing. In the same way as you can use a crochet hook to efficiently correct an ordinary run, so you can use a crochet hook to correct a run which occurs at the edge...if you keep your wits about you.

In person, the problem looks worse than it actually is: the curl at the edge of most knitted fabrics contributes to the confusion, and the loose loops overlay one another. If you could take away all the curl in the fabric and organize the overlapping loops--if you could lay the mess out neatly--the problem would look like the illustration below. (In this illustration, the three edge stitches have become unmoored, and have run out 6 rows down.)

Below are two different ways to fix this problem, depending on how you created the very edge stitch--the selvedge stitch--when you first created the fabric. Many knitters (myself among them) always run a chain selvedge in the fabric--created by slipping the first (or last) stitch on every row. (For complete instructions on how to create a chain selvedge, click here.) One reason to run a chain selvedge is that it makes correcting errors in the side edges easier. The first set of illustrations below (numbered with pink circles) show how to correct a run when the fabric was originally knitted with such a chain selvedge.

However, not every knitter runs a chain selvedge in their work. If you are a knitter who knits every stitch on every row, it will be slightly more complicated to fix runs at the side edges--it requires you pin the the fabric to a board in order to fix it. However, although more complicated, it is by no means impossible, and the second set of illustrations (numbered with green circles) shows how.


1 (below) In this illustration, three edge stitches have run down 6 rows. The 3 edge stitches of the last row NOT to run out are called the "foundation row" and are labeled by color. The very edge stitch is red, the two interior stitches are green and blue.

Due to the chain selvedge, the red stitches will be hooked up in a 1-for-2 pattern--1 edge stitch for every 2 rows. Because 6 rows raveled out, there will be a total of 3 edge stitches to be recreated. The two interior stitches, the green and the blue, will be hooked up in an ordinary 1-for-1 pattern--1 stitch per row. Because 6 rows ran out, 6 total stitches in each column need to be recreated.

2. (below) Begin by hooking up the red edge stitch as shown. Remember that for a chain selvedge, the outer edge of each loop need only be drawn through once.

3. (below) Continue hooking up the red stitches along the outside edge of the loops. As you can see, this process begins to turn the loops into something more closely resembling ordinary ladders in the area above the green and blue stitches.

4. (below) Once the red stitches have all been hooked up and deposited on the needle, begin with the green stitches. Unlike the red stitches, which are chain selvedge stitches--hooked up 1 stitch per 2 rows--the green stitches are ordinary stitches, and are hooked up one stitch per row, as shown.

5. (below) Once the green stitches have been hooked up and deposited on the right knitting needle, hook up the blue stitches in the same manner, as shown.

6. (below) The finished product. Of course, it will not look all neat like this--it will be wonky because the tension has been much disturbed. However, some careful picking at the stitch arms with your knitting needle will adjust the tension better. Wearing and blocking will smooth things out further until, over time, you won't be able to tell there was ever a problem.


1. (below) When you are running an ordinary selvedge, the work of correcting an error at the edge is a little more complex. The trouble arises because the outer edge of each loop must be turned into two stitches--one above the other, to match the fact that every stitch of every row was knitted. Stated otherwise, because the edge stitch was not slipped, you must have the same number of stitches along the edge of the work as in the interior columns. This takes a little hocus-pocus to create, but, with the help of pins and a board, a run on this sort of edge can also be corrected. Begin by pinning out the loops, as shown. Next, draw the "bottom" part of the outermost portion of the loop into the foundation stitch (red) with a crochet hook as shown.

2. (below) Once you have drawn up the part of the loop below the pin, you next draw up the outermost part of the loop above the pin. In other words, the red stitches are hooked up once below the pin and then again another time above the pin. This creates 2 stitches at the outer edge of every red loop.

3 (below) Once the edge stitches have been created, the pins can come out, and the two interior columns (green and blue) are hooked up in the same manner as shown in illustrations 4 and 5 of first series (with pink circles, above). (However, if you find it easier, you need not remove the pins until you have hooked up all the columns.)

4. (below) The finished work. As stated above, the tension will be wonky when the error is first fixed. However, judicious tension readjustment of the stitch arms with a knitting needle, coupled with blocking and wear, will all act together to smooth out the area until no trace of the correction shows.

One last thing: The run-out loops in these illustrations are not to scale. A loop resulting from 5 or 6 raveled out stitches is relatively longer than the illustrations. Paradoxically, once you start hooking up, the ladders are relatively shorter than they appear in these illustrations. If you need to use a very small hook indeed for the interior (green and blue) stitches, no fears--you're not doing it wrong.

((You have been reading TECHknitting on: "Correcting errors at the side edges of your knitting")


Blogger jennsquared said...

I think I know what you are talking about. I think I do the row thing without knowing that it is a technique, just like magic loop! ah-hem, my gf just corrected me that anything is a technique because there is no wrong way of knitting. :)

Thanks for sharing.

October 17, 2007 at 7:24 AM  
Blogger Gale said...

Very nice tutorial. Thank you.

October 17, 2007 at 9:22 AM  
Blogger maitai said...

thank you! i can fix mistakes within a row just fine, but i always wondered how to fix the edge row! i would just always wing it since that edge wouldn't be visible after seaming anyway. but it's nice to know what it's SUPPOSED to look like!

October 17, 2007 at 9:23 AM  
Anonymous Kim said...

I swear, you're in my brain! As I'm working on a stitch pattern and lamenting about how my k2tog's and my ssk's don't look at all alike...BAM! left leaning decrease tutorials! As I panic about losing rows and rows of edge stitches in a tangled mess...BAM! edge stitch saving tutorial!


October 17, 2007 at 9:34 AM  
Blogger errs said...

This was just what I needed! I'm working on a scarf that has a reverse stockinette edge, that I decided was actually garter stitch for three rows. I fixed everythign but the outside stitch. Thanks for making something so scary, so easy!

October 17, 2007 at 9:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you. Thank you. thank you. You just saved my first sweater.

October 17, 2007 at 11:01 AM  
Blogger BeadKnitter said...

Thank you thank you thank you!! This is one of those problems that has had me baffled for years! The pins are a brilliant idea!

October 17, 2007 at 12:33 PM  
Blogger HennHouse said...

Thank you for today's post, as well as, for providing all the wonderful information on your site. I confess I have been one who would frog to fix an error on the side edge, but next time I'm ready to tackle it--thanks to you!

I also focused in on your link to the tutorial for the chain side selvage. I've been trying to figure out how to do that and find that I have been "twisting" my chain because I had not been knitting into the back loop of the end knit stitch. So I did a swatch your recommended way through the back loop and find that my through the front loop twisted way gives a little bit firmer edge that looks sort of braided--pretty I think--and might still be a good option for a piece that is not going to be seamed.

A question: are there any other ways to do a side selvage other than the chaini selvage?

Many thanks for the wealth of info on your site.

October 17, 2007 at 1:42 PM  
Blogger --TECHknitter said...

Hi Henhouse: A "plain" (untwisted) chained selvedge is less likely to pull up the fabric, and is far easier to seam up. However, for a scarf or other project which will not be seamed, but which will have exposed edges, you can certainly twist the chain selvedge if you think it looks prettier. The big thing is consistency. An edge of mixed twisted and untwisted chains would be unattractive. As far as other selvedges go, yes, there are others, and someday, I will post about them...

October 17, 2007 at 1:54 PM  
Blogger Mary-Lou said...

Lovely illustrations as always! - and I do the along the row thing too, which is probably much more fiddly :)

October 17, 2007 at 3:31 PM  
Blogger HennHouse said...

I'll keep watching for your future postings about selvages. Thank you for taking the time to reply to my question.

October 17, 2007 at 3:32 PM  
Blogger Micki said...

This is the most useful thing I've read all day--thanks!

October 17, 2007 at 4:35 PM  
Blogger alt.ayu said...

wow! you know i'm always afraid of something like this happening? and then I won't ever know what to do? Now I know where to look! :) Thanks for this tutorial!

October 17, 2007 at 9:59 PM  
Blogger Digital Leaf said...

ahh, my hero!!!

October 19, 2007 at 3:45 PM  
Blogger wideblueyarn said...

I've just come accross your site and I LOVE IT!! I was looking for help with laddering down to fix a stitch but found so much more. Thanks! :)

October 22, 2007 at 4:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't thank you enough for this post. Never figured out how to begin to fix these. Now I know.

December 12, 2007 at 9:02 AM  
Anonymous songdeva said...

Thanks for responding so fast on Ravelry with the link to your incredible tutorial. I'm a fan!

February 6, 2008 at 7:55 PM  
OpenID dailythread said...

Hi! I just found this post while googling for how to pick up a dropped edge stitch. I thought I was going to have to rip 9 rows of a sweater, and right when I was about to hit the underarm, too (it's a top-down raglan). But you saved my sanity! Thanks! (And why do none of the great finishing technique books in my personal library address dropped stitches on the edge? They should!)

May 8, 2008 at 10:05 PM  
Blogger *Michelle* said...

OMG! Thank you soooo much! Two from one-- exactly the concept I needed to "get it"! This post saved the day. & I was able to fix a mistake in my seed stitch button band!

August 23, 2008 at 5:48 PM  
Anonymous Colleen Haiber said...

I'm so glad someone documented this particular fix and shared it oneline. Thanks a whole bunch!

September 5, 2008 at 6:03 PM  
Blogger Jenny said...

thank you :)

November 7, 2008 at 4:13 PM  
Anonymous amie said...

seems I'm a little late to see this but that's b/c I've never had to fix this before. Anyway, thanks so much. Lovely technique pics saved me from ripping out and maybe from tears!

April 7, 2009 at 10:51 AM  
Blogger Christine said...

Non-slip stitch edges have always baffled me. Your directions are excellent. But I am wondering, what changes does one make from the above directions if the knitting is in garter stitch? Is it enough to pick up the strand above the pin purl-wise rather than knit-wise, or is there an extra step involved?

June 30, 2009 at 10:19 AM  
Blogger --TECHknitter said...

Hi Christine--sorry for the delay in responding. To fix in garter stitch, it is as you suspect--one ladder gets picked up knitwise, and one purlwise. --TK

August 11, 2009 at 12:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about fixing that edge stitch when doing garter stitch? It has a knot on the edge that I cannot figure out how to reproduce. Any tips?

December 6, 2009 at 5:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you. I was about to start crying and pulling at my hair when I found this.

February 18, 2010 at 4:55 AM  
Blogger sujata said...

I cannot tell you how grateful I am for this! I was about to tear my hair out and frog about 2 hours of knitting until I saw this. Thank you, thank you, thank you

April 2, 2010 at 10:00 AM  
Blogger K said...

Anonymous - I have just used this technique to fix a garter stitch edge, and the little knot just produces itself as you go. I was puzzled by how that would work too, but if you follow the instructions, you get the right result.

Techknitter, thanks so much for this! It works so well. It actually took me longer to unpick the edge down to the mistake than it did to hook it back up again. I used a well-stuffed sofa cushion to pin the knitting to - that worked well.

May 7, 2010 at 8:12 AM  
Anonymous rebecca said...

THANK YOU! I was determined to figure out how to fix my edge (I'm a perfectionist - so knowing that the edge would be seamed anyway wasn't helping) and your tutorial was GREAT.

July 28, 2010 at 8:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't thank you enough for showing me how to correct the edge of my knitting. I tried to figure it out myself since I have gotten good at using a crochet hook to fix errors down a ladder. It was baffling me and I made a terrible mess. Your illustrations were wonderful and your explantion easy to understand. Thank you thank you thank you!

August 25, 2010 at 12:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just did it - it works! Brilliant ... just in time ... and thank you! This technique saved me from having to frog about 10 rows of lace.

September 13, 2010 at 8:37 PM  
Anonymous Susan said...

Thank you so much for this. I was well into my cable swatch for the Master Knitter Level 1 course, when I realized I had split my yarn on an edge stitch several rows below. Your tutorial saved me!

December 10, 2010 at 8:20 PM  
Anonymous Anna said...

This is exactly exactly what I needed, pictures to show me what the heck was going on. Thanks!

January 7, 2011 at 10:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was thrilled to find your blog as a result of the Knitting Daily post, as I am dealing with just such a problem right now with the edges of a scarf. However, I still can't seem to fix it, even with your excellent diagrams. I didn't see any reference to how the stitch was slipped, so wonder if that is my problem. My scarf is a ribbing pattern, beginning and ending each row with K2, P2. The first stitch of each row is slipped purlwise. My "fix" never looks right, and I'm guessing it has something to do with the twist of the slipped stitch. I've been practicing with a swatch, and will continue to do so.

I have already discovered several ways to improve my knitting from your blog. Love it!

February 11, 2011 at 12:32 PM  
Blogger TECHknitter said...

Hi Anon--sometimes, the fix of the side edge doesn't look right until you block the darn thing. The tension (gauge) can get pretty messed up with these tricks and it takes a determined blocking to remind the stitches how they ought to lay!

February 11, 2011 at 2:21 PM  
Anonymous Adrienne said...

Would this work similarly with an attached I-cord edging? I worked a row in purl when I should have knit and was at a bit of a loss on how to fix it. I finally decided it would later be hidden by a button loop but knowing whether laying/pinning it out would work might help if I ever do that again. At the time it made my head hurt to think about it! Lol

February 11, 2011 at 8:16 PM  
Blogger TECHknitter said...

Hi Adrienne: Not quite sure how the I-cord edging resembled this problem? If you like, you can send a photo and e-mail me at
TECHknittingAThotmailDOTcom to better see what the problem is.

February 11, 2011 at 8:51 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

I just had to comment because you saved me! I was starting to rip back when I thought, there MUST be a tutorial that can prevent me having to. It took some figuring out how to search for it, but once I found your post it was a quick fix. Thank you so much!

April 5, 2011 at 10:18 PM  
Blogger Lauria said...

I always breathe a sigh of relief when a google search for a problem leads me to your blog! Thank you! I had tried to fix the problem myself first and did an okay job, but a second look made me realize that I had made a mistake in my fix somewhere

I had resigned myself to ripping back a few hours worth of work when I thought to google it.

I have a chain selvedge (first time I tried!) and I still pinned everything out so that I could see where the key players were. It made it so easy to find each loop was and not loose it as things tightened up.

Thanks again!

September 22, 2011 at 1:43 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

wonderful post - i read it over a year ago and filed it away in my head, and just used it now! so easy and I'd never have figured it out on my own! thanks for the great illustrations - you are a marvel at making knitting simple!

October 22, 2011 at 4:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! I made a mess of my chain selvedge at the beginning of my project but figured that since the edge would be seamed, it wouldn't matter. 50 rows later, the glaring imperfection was bugging me, so I decided to take a shot at fixing it. I dropped the edge stitch down and used your illustrations to chain it back up and I am so shocked at how easy it was! Thank you!!

November 6, 2011 at 6:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You totally saved my ass with this post! I'm knitting a 'Vivian" and messed up the 'sl 3 knitwise' selvedge. I would have had to frog back several very crucial cabled rows where sleeves attached, etc. I probably would've placed this project aside in frustration, if not for this quick fix. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!

December 13, 2011 at 8:09 AM  
Blogger Wendy Moore said...

Dear TechKnitter,

Thank you so much. Your techniques are brilliant and illustrations for teaching them make them possible to actually follow and execute. I just used this solution to take out the selvedge so I could wrap my second color, I am knitting stripes and forgot to wrap and carry for 8 rows on a decreasing arm hole, so not a good place for a break in yarn or long piece carried behind.

Thank you again for sharing your knowledge.

January 16, 2012 at 11:35 AM  
Blogger Keira Kiyoko said...

Thank you so much! A real life saver. The end of the row stitch has always puzzled me. Now I see it clearly.

February 29, 2012 at 7:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG You are a genius.

January 5, 2014 at 7:06 AM  
Blogger Arlene Baron said...

Your method is just what I need, an edge without a chain. Ever row knitted. My question is can I do this when the stitch before the two edge stitches that need to be fixed is a yarn over?

October 3, 2014 at 9:31 PM  
Blogger TECHknitter said...

Hi Arlene--theoretically the answer is yes, but... The thing is, it's pretty easy to lose a YO. So, if I were you, I would consider trying this on a swatch first--make a mini-swatch, maybe 10 rows high and 10 stitches wide, working the edge as your pattern is worked. If it works, wonderful, if it doesn't, you haven't compromised all your hard work--the mini-edge-swatch should take just a few minutes to make up.

October 4, 2014 at 12:40 AM  
Blogger Arlene Baron said...

Thank you for your quick reply. I did try it and it is very difficult to do because of the yarn overs, and way too many rows. Very risky. My shawl is beautiful and I decided to live with the mistake. This technique may come in handy in the future. I'm sure if I did not have the yarn over right next to the two edge stitches I could have done it. Also the yarn is merino wool and mohair and the stitches stick to each other adding to the difficulty. Your idea is very clever😊

October 4, 2014 at 11:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

~*~ My daughter is just learning, and dropped 3 stitches off the end of her first 3 rows. I didn't know how to fix it with my limited experience, and this was perfect help! The tension's a little wonky, but we don't have to make her start over. Thanks! ~Deanna (& Hannah) D.

January 24, 2015 at 7:52 PM  
Blogger keeponsmiling said...

What an incredible tutorial! I was about to unravel 5 inches of knitting, on a 3 foot wide blanket, because the garter stitch edge was pulling up. Now, I have a beautiful edge that took just a few minutes to fix. Thank you SOOOOO much!

January 21, 2016 at 7:10 AM  

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